The latest acquisition by Academy Music Group (AMG), the 2,300 capacity venue is one of the most popular live music destinations in the capital.
The brief was to future-proof the venue's technical infrastructure, bring it up to date and give incoming productions the flexibility and facilities they need to stage world-class performances with the convenience of using the house system.
Liverpool-based Adlib’s experience in live touring and venue installations, coupled with detailed research of current rider information, drove the specification of an L-Acoustics K2 loudspeaker system, DiGiCo consoles and Adlib’s latest proprietary MP5 wedges and side fills for the monitor system.
Adlib’s MD Andy Dockerty and John Hughes led the initial requirement discussions with Academy Music Group’s divisional managers Helen McGee and Steve Hoyland; representing the venue were general manager Eral Hassan and technical manager John Pinner, who have joined O2 Forum Kentish Town this year from London venues, The Garage and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire respectively.
“We’ve listened to many promoters, sound engineers and production managers and wanted to invest in a first class system. O2 Forum Kentish Town is a stunning Art Deco theatre and a much-loved major touring venue that attracts high-profile, international artists, so we needed to invest in a completely new PA system that really is the best-in-class,” said McGee.
“We’ve enjoyed a great synergy and track record with Adlib over the last decade, with well-respected audio systems at our venues in Bournemouth, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Leicester, so it made perfect sense for us to work together again on this bespoke solution in one of our major London venues.”
The Adlib project team was headed by Roger Kirby, Rob Crossland and senior systems technician Tony Szabo, who studied the room and the audio requirements closely. They then designed and spec’d the system, and fine-tuned once the installation was complete in a close collaboration with the onsite technical team.
L-Acoustics K2 was selected for its size and suitability for the wide variety of featured music and performance genres. “We supply kit to numerous tours playing this size of venue,” commented Kirby, “so from the rental side of our business, this system is extensively proven to deliver the results required by the most demanding artistes. Further to that, L-Acoustics is now on most European touring riders almost by default”.
To ensure the new system was fully optimised, Adlib recommended that the main PA points were upgraded and relocated to a new position. The company worked with Academy Music Group’s appointed structural engineers, MJC Consulting, on this element, so the new K2 PA arrays could be hung in the best positions on each side.
This precision was needed to cover the spacious balcony area and the wide areas offstage at the front. Additional low-frequency support is offered by six SB28s a side, ground-stacked in two three-way wheeled dollies which position them at the ideal height in relation to the audience.
On each side, three L-Acoustics ARCS boxes on the inside edges of the sub stacks cover the nearfield and stalls areas immediately in front of the stage.
All the L-Acoustics speakers are powered by LA8 amplifiers. A pair of Lake LM44 signal processors have been introduced at front of house (FOH) to act as a front-end system input matrix, offering flexibility for house and visiting consoles.
“Again, we considered carefully what might come in and out on a tour and this is an out-the-box ready-to-go system with no dramatic changes needed,” stated Kirby.
Adlib then selected its own MP wedge system for monitors, which are also well-known and respected on touring and festival circuits. The latest MP5 version 15in monitor has improved drivers and output and has been very well received.
Twenty MP5s are available at O2 Forum Kentish Town, all driven by Linea Research 44M20 4-channel amps, of which seven deal with the MP5s and another powers an Adlib AA215DS 2400W drum sub.
A set of full range Adlib sidefills were supplied, comprising an FD3P mid/high box with AA215HL sub woofers. All the Adlib products onstage are driven via the presets on the Linea Research amplifiers.
Two DiGiCo SD10 consoles have been supplied with D2 stage boxes, deployed at FOH and monitors, together with well-specified control options to complete a high spec rider-friendly system, with which most professional sound engineers will be familiar.
A new VDC multicore system with 48 input lines and 16 stage returns is part of the package, with AES signal lines to follow.
Hughes concluded: “It’s been another great experience working with Academy Music Group, and one that’s offered the chance to combine premium products in a powerful, practical and fantastic sounding solution at one of London’s premier venues.”
Photo by Caitlin Mogridge, Copyright Academy Music Group