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Harman Pro solution for new Welsh arts complex

The Soar Project has entailed the restoration and conversion of an 18th century Merthyr Tydfil church into a multi-cultural arts, community, educational and Welsh language centre.

The Soar Project has entailed the restoration and conversion of an 18th century Merthyr Tydfil church into a multi-cultural arts, community, educational and Welsh language centre.

Incorporating a 250-seat amphitheatre, dance studios, recording rooms and much more, the venue has been equipped with an end-to-end Harman Pro sound system. Equipment was supplied by UK/Ireland Harman distributor Sound Technology, and installed by Liverpool-based Adlib.

The sound spec was devised by local musician and pro-audio specialist Tim Gray (pictured), who worked in close conjunction with Nick Bellis at Sound Technology. Having decided upon a line array solution, they enlisted Harman Pro applications engineer Tom Williams, who took EASE measurements of the room to yield several system options.

Ultimately, the technical team voted in favour of a JBL VRX solution. Adlib – which also equipped the building with lighting and video projection equipment – installed the VRX system in two phases. Initially, hangs of two VRX932LA enclosures and single VRX918S 18in sub were flown each side in a left and right configuration. The main hangs were later bolstered by a third flown VRX932LA per side, while a central cluster of two VRX932LA speakers was added during second phase installation works. Along with the flown additions, two pairs of ground-stacked SRX718S subs (for use as necessary) and six SRX712M 12-in speakers were introduced; four of the latter were used as conventional stage monitors and the other two flown as out-fills across the bleachers.

Other audio systems include a Soundcraft Vi1 console at FOH, amplification from Crown (five MA5000i devices, plus one XTi4000) and processing from BSS Soundweb (BLU-160 DSP with BLU3 wall-mount remote). Adlib also added a custom-switch panel to the amplifier rack to control audio signal flow within the Soundweb devices. The configuration uses the Logic features within London Architect software to introduce additional auxiliary feeds from the Vi1 console through to each zone of the FOH loudspeaker system to best suit each engineer’s mixing preference. Soundweb also has the capacity to introduce sources from other areas of the complex on the audio network in the future.

Adlib also made extensive provision for tie lines which will serve the many OB trucks that visit the building, as well as those using the other in-house performance spaces. Stage boxes and patch-bays have been installed in all key areas – as a result of which the dance studio has already been able to double as an orchestral pit.

Microphone signal inputs and returns and comms lines ensure that music from the theatre performance space and dance studio can be captured and recorded in the ground floor studio control room, while separate data lines allow camera and AV feeds signal flow between key points within building.

Roger Kirby, installation director for Adlib, commented: “We are delighted with the results. Being in a Grade II-listed building, speaker positions were critical and having the EASE plots provided a brilliant start; VRX 932 system was chosen because it packs the punch and for the budget it was perfect.

“As for the Vi1, with so many theatre shows, the digital snapshots are very useful. […] On top of everything, The Soundcraft consoles have a superb heritage. We work with the Vi platform a lot in our rental department and for the budget, the Vi1 feature-set is amazing.”

Theatre manager Einir Siôn added: “This level of sound technology is crucial in order to be able to host a vast array of performance and to do it well; you need equipment and space of this calibre to be able to sell any production.”