The Albany, a multidisciplinary arts centre in the heart of Lewisham in south-east London has replaced its ageing PA with a new Reference Series system from EM Acoustics supplied by Stage Electrics.
In consultation with Kinsella, it was decided at an early stage that a point source solution would be the most appropriate for the space. After a variety of tests it became clear that the Reference Series R10 should be utilised as the main system. The full system comprises four R10s, two S-15 compact reflex subwoofers, two S-215 high power compact subwoofers, four EMS-61 fills and eight M-C12 stage monitors. Power is supplied courtesy of a DQ20, a DQ10 and three DQ6 advanced system amplifiers.
“We looked at a lot of different options, but the Eureka moment came when EM’s Ed Kinsella visited us with the R10s and some EMS Series,” said Ben Stephen, head of production at the Albany. “Being able to talk to the person that actually designed the loudspeakers in the context of what we have to achieve every day was amazing. It was like the most fantastic play date! We looked at all the speaker placements and tried out all sorts of combinations and configurations – the technical team were like kids in a sweet shop!
Stephen used to run six main top boxes but can “do the same job” with just four R10s: “Fewer sources means fewer reflections so we have gained enormously in clarity and punch, not to mention space and weight,” he says. “We have also moved to much physically smaller subs, and have gained an extra 1.5 sq m of stage space as a result. Previously our subs quite often only served as very expensive speaker stands for our top boxes; in fact, they were so obtrusive, we could only put them in one place, which used to result in a lot of sub traps and of course took up space on the stage. Now, we can place the subs wherever we like according to the application – for example, they can go under the seating rake for a theatrical system that might require effects like a rumble of thunder or an explosion.”
According to Stephen, the sound quality with the new system has “improved beyond all measure”, with the sound is “much more consistent” between the balcony and the stalls. There’s also a lot more headroom. “The system is just purring rather than straining so it’s really easy on the ears with such a big, rich sound, loudness has almost become irrelevant,” added Stephen. “Our technical and production team absolutely love the new equipment, especially the R10s – we literally took them out of the box, hung them up, turned them on and they sounded phenomenal. Heading into a really high profile music season for Lewisham, London Borough of Culture we can put on gigs with huge smiles on our faces. Plus the team at EM have been brilliant. We simply couldn’t have asked for more.”