The Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith has completed a major restoration project, which included the renovation of the building structurally and also the installation of an L-Acoustics sound system.
“The purpose of installing an in-house PA system in the Apollo was to ensure that our visitors are given the highest possible quality audio reinforcement uniformly throughout the venue, make working in the venue safer and reduce the visual impact of the audio system,” explained Alastair Parley, technical manager for the venue.”
The team analysed the make and supplier of the audio systems for all the events over the previous three years to determine the system used most often, which was from L-Acoustics.
“The next stage was to identify suppliers of the system,” said Alastair. “All were approached, but we chose to work with SSE Audio. They’re an L-Acoustics main UK agent, which allowed us to have the best possible design team, including L-Acoustics’ own engineers and designers.”
Following a period of consultation with L-Acoustics and SSE the decision was made to choose the new K2 line array system.
SSE built a range of customised items from its manufacturing arm in Redditch, all designed to specific parameters to optimise the system performance including custom hanging frames and cabling interfaces. Additionally, the SSE manufacturing department designed and built a motor control system; one for the main PA hangs and a secondary system for the house delays on the balcony, with controls designed so they could plug in to logical positioned control points, on the wall of the balcony, for example to make flying as safe and efficient as possible.
The main PA comprises 12 K2 per side, hung from newly installed points, which are positioned further out from the stage than the previous points to achieve a wider stereo image and less intrusion into the stage space, which has also improved sight lines. Either side of the stage there are six SB28 subs, with four ARCS WiFo cabinets positioned on top of the inner subs, using custom manufactured mounting panels to provide 120° of near field coverage. An additional five 8XT cabinets are sited along the front of the stage as part of the near field coverage.
Under balcony coverage was an area of particular concern, having often been neglected despite it being the location of the front of house mix position. Here, SSE installed five ARCs WiFo cabinets using a custom-built suspension bracket designed by them to assist the horizontal and vertical positioning of the units. “The special bracket made for quick and easy installation, whilst ensuring the WiFo cabinets are fixed as close to the ceiling as possible, which minimises interference with sightlines,” commented SSE managing director, John Penn.
“We chose WiFo because of its physical profile and its acoustic qualities. Since these deliver sound to seats that include the FOH position, it’s important that the mix engineer hears the same tonal quality as from the main PA. The WiFo uses the same 12in driver and HF driver as K2 and the HF driver is mounted on a DOSC waveguide, the same as K2. Tonally it’s as close as it’s possible to get to the main PA.
“We also set up the system network management with a mute button for the centre WiFo cabinet, so the FOH engineer can easily hear and compare the difference between the main PA and the WiFo and check coverage.”
Finally, in the foyer, four 8XT speakers are mounted on the wall, with a further eight 8XT speakers installed in the bar. This can be used simply to relay the main PA.
The system is amplified by L-Acoustics LA8 amplified controller, with a PC running LA Network Manager software and a Wi-Fi link allowing remote operation from anywhere in the auditorium.
The installation took place during January 2015 and was first used for an event at First Aid Kit’s concert on 26th January. Since then it has been used for most events held at the Apollo.
“There are many bespoke and custom designed components, including an expansive data network over optical, digital and analogue formats connecting all elements of the audio system,” explained Alistair. “The network also allows visiting production companies to use the house multicore connections to connect their show control equipment, including light and video control, without having to install their own, which saves time and labour costs.
“The result is a system that delivers an exceptionally high quality of audio reproduction throughout the auditorium over the audio spectrum, with a very high level of intelligibility for the human voice.”