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L-Acoustics selected for Belfast Empire sound system update

Adlib has fitted The Empire Music Hall in Belfast with an L-Acoustics ARCS WiFo front of house system to deliver excellent audio coverage across the venue’s dancefloor, raised tiers of seating areas and audience vantage points.

The Empire Music Hall is situated in the Botanic Avenue area of Belfast in a converted Victorian church. It is a multi-purpose, adaptable space, hosting a wide variety of events from intimate cabaret to concerts and comedy.

Will Barrett, technical manager at Wine Inns Ltd, which owns the venue, contacted Adlib, and the company recommended an L-Acoustics ARCS WiFo system to cope with both the venue’s challenging configuration and its architectural restrictions.

“The venue operator required an updated sound system that would supplement and support live performances for a wide number of genres from spoken word and comedy, to folk music and rock ’n’ roll at their vibrant and very popular city venue,” said Adlib director, Roger Kirby. “The venue’s ornate interior architecture presented challenges and limitations for any installation, with original wall surface finishes of wood panelling and extensive panelled timber surfaces amplifying and exciting mid-band frequencies. There is also a very large feature mirror in place forming a 10m long back bar, which again had the potential to generate additional unwanted high frequency reflections.”

Adlib arranged an initial on-site meeting with the client to undertake listening tests, SPL measurements and to discuss the pros and cons of the existing rig before finalising the brief for any new system, which would take all these elements into account. The venue was then modelled utilising Soundvision, L-Acoustics’ 3D acoustical simulation software, allowing the Adlib team to determine an optimum loudspeaker system solution for the space.

“A combination of ARCS WiFo and SB18 offered excellent coverage for the multi-tiered room and offered a flown solution with low frequency extension in the form of the SB18m sub,” continued Kirby. “This combination is a very well knitted loudspeaker solution and capable of delivering the required SPLs.”

The final system comprised two hangs, one either side of the stage, of two ARCS Focus with an ARCS wide at the bottom of the array providing fantastic nearfield coverage, topped with an SB18 sub. The system also required a pair of SB28 subs to be installed into a compact space beneath the original ornate stage for additional low frequency support, which required some challenging joinery work. The system is driven, controlled and monitored with a combination of LA8 and LA4X amplified controllers on a new, dedicated network via L-Acoustics’ LA Network Manager. It was installed over just four days, with Adlib extending the length of each working day where necessary to avoid any impact on the venue’s extremely busy event schedule.

“Excluding the SB28s, the entire system is flown, which was essential given the size, format and footprint of the stage,” stated Kirby. “It has had a great response from visiting bands and engineers; the WiFo system has surprising headroom and offers good coverage to all audience areas.”