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Fairfield Hall revamps sound reinforcement solution with d&b Q-Series and Yamaha

The new sound reinforcement installation from London-based Orbital Sound forms part of a £27million, five-year improvement programme to the south London concert hall.

Orbital Sound has just completed a major installation at one of the UK’s premier concert halls, Fairfield Halls, Croydon, south London, comprising d&b Q-Series speakers and a Yamaha M7CL console.

Fairfield Halls’ 1800-seat Concert Hall is ranked as one of the very best orchestral performance spaces in Europe. The investment in the new sound system forms part of a long-term refurbishment and improvement programme, scheduled across some five years and entailing a total budget of around £27 million. A key objective of this current phase is to attract the larger tours and top-line promoters to the venue.

Orbital’s David Bartholomeusz was responsible for the network system design, and was on site throughout the project to oversee the entire installation.

Forming the first part of a technical upgrade, Orbital installed a new sound reinforcement system into the Concert Hall, with the principal components comprising d&b audiotechnik Q1 line arrays, augmented by flown 27A cardioid subs, ground-stacked B2 subs, and a Yamaha M7CL console with DME64 mix engine. The Q1 array is complemented by a T-series centre-fill cluster, using three Ti10L d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers.

Ten Q1 enclosures in each of the left and right hangs were installed for the main stereo system. These are backed up by four 27A Cardioid SUBS (B4 subs with rigging points) per side, with the latter hung behind the left and right arrays, to avoid any additional line-of-sight intrusion.

Given the hard wooden floor of the completely open stage area, with no proscenium, it was important to keep sound off the stage to minimise unwanted reflections, and therefore contribute to the overall intelligibility. This resulted in the choice of the d&b 27A cardioid subs, to achieve a reduction of around 15dB of rear-radiated low frequency energy. A further pair of d&b B2 SUBS was also supplied, and these can be wheeled out to provide additional LF capacity when required.

To address the intelligibility issues of the outgoing system, it was felt imperative to incorporate sufficient fill coverage throughout all parts of the auditorium, and to that end the Choir area was fitted with five d&b E6 speakers, while a further six E6 units were installed to provide Front fills.

The Concert Hall’s Royal Box was equipped with two E6 speakers, while the remaining boxes – four per side above the auditorium – were each installed with one 5S speaker from d&b’s White Range. D12 amplifiers from d&b power the main system and subs, with d&b D6 amps driving the remainder.

Chris Whybrow, technical Manager at Fairfield Halls, commented: “Our ethos with this project was to re-use as much of our existing equipment and technical infrastructure as was feasible. We have managed to retain the analogue infrastructure, for example, re-terminating cables and updating patchbays where necessary, but keeping the analogue cabling itself pretty much intact. It didn’t need replacing, and there’s no point in spending valuable budget where it’s not required. The guys at Orbital took this approach on board from the very start, and have worked hard to help give us the best possible results within our budget, and only recommending new equipment where absolutely necessary.”

With the existing analogue cabling being re-used, the infrastructure aspects of the installation focused on the digital requirements of the Yamaha console and its associated EtherSound network, as well as the d&b Remote network for controlling and monitoring the loudspeaker systems.