Nottingham, UK—November 2018… From Wesleyan Chapel to Synagogue and now University Hall, Grade II-listed 48 Shakespeare Street in Nottingham has enjoyed a rich history since its construction in 1854. The building was acquired by Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in 2016 and has since been refurbished to create a facility suitable for ceremonial occasions, including graduation days. The hall will also offer a multi-functional space suitable for a variety of internal and external lectures, talks, and small-scale music performances. A new foyer has been created, and the former chapel has been opened up by the use of glass to replace solid screens. A newly created glass vestibule at the back of the hall will act as a lobby, while the large rear extension added in 1976 has been developed to provide a music center and dance studios.
NTU required a sound system to provide sound reinforcement, signal processing, and lecture capture for the main ceremonial hall, as well as further audio provision for the ancillary spaces. The listed status of the main hall demanded that all work be undertaken with great sensitivity to the Victorian interior. NTU AV team leader Stuart Loughran asked POLAR Integrated Solutions to design and commission a system to meet its requirements, while Roche Audio Visual was appointed to install the systems. The main ceremonial hall is divided between a ground floor and a surrounding first floor mezzanine. The nature of the architecture conspires to produce a highly reverberant space, complicated by low-ceilinged areas beneath the mezzanine. Flexible wireless microphone systems were required to cater for a wide range of uses in both the hall and the music center.
Having worked with POLAR on previous schemes, Stuart Loughran and his team were familiar with the Renkus-Heinz ICONYX series of digitally steerable loudspeakers. Mark Bromfield of POLAR agreed that these sophisticated, compact, powerful, and discreet units would be an ideal fit. Each ICONYX column includes a built-in digital processor and (depending on the model) amplifier, which enables tailored performance for venue and audience that could not be achieved using conventional technology. The ICONYX loudspeaker places sound only where it is required, avoiding reflective surfaces that create problems. Not only does the ICONYX range deliver exceptional performance in challenging spaces where intelligibility is problematic but its profile blends seamlessly into the background, another huge advantage in heritage spaces that are used for contemporary applications.
In the main hall, Roche AV installed two Renkus-Heinz ICONYX IC16-RD (white) arrays in the upstairs mezzanine area and two IC8-RD arrays downstairs. Each self-powered IC16-RD allows up to eight steerable beams to be individually shaped and aimed, while the IC8-RD allows up to four beams. Two Renkus-Heinz CF15S-5 self-powered subwoofers were located downstairs.
Two Biamp TesiraFORTE DAN CI digital audio servers with 12 analog inputs, eight analog outputs, and Dante digital audio networking control all audio processing, including signal routing, mixing, filtering, EQ, and delay. POLAR’s design specified a beyerdynamic TG1000 digital wireless system with Dante interface for seamlessly integration into the network.
In the music center extension, a different Renkus-Heinz system was specified, this time based on two CFX121 loudspeakers and two CFX81 loudspeakers (delays), driven by MC2 Audio T1500 and T1000 power amplifiers, and two self-powered Renkus-Heinz CF12S-5R subwoofers. The Renkus-Heinz CF/CFX two-way, Complex Conic, point-source loudspeaker series is a compact, high-performance, main PA, ideal for music and speech reinforcement in a multi-use space such as this. A further two Biamp TesiraFORTE DAN C1 servers were put in place, along with a Dante-enabled Mackie DL32R rack-mount digital mixer, controlled wirelessly using the Mackie MasterFader iPad app.
The final part of the installation saw the Dance Studio equipped with a pair of Renkus-Heinz CFX121 speakers driven by an MC2 T1500 amplifier. A beyerdynamic TG 534 Headworn microphone set was the perfect choice of wireless microphone for the needs of this single-use space.
Stuart Loughran, AV and media services team leader at NTU, was very pleased with the outcome. “Our principal aim was to enhance the graduation ceremony experience by providing an AV solution that could be streamed to other venues in the university, as well as to our dedicated YouTube channel,” he remarks. “The Renkus-Heinz ICONYX loudspeakers were an easy choice to make, as we’ve had a lot of experience with them, and they provide excellent coverage to a large area of the hall. The audio within the hall across both floors is crystal clear and provides the right amount of voice reinforcement required to make ceremonies enjoyable from a practical and technical point of view. The system inputs in a very straightforward way to our broadcast system, and we’ve already received an excellent response from people all over the world who have been unable to attend ceremonies and have instead enjoyed our YouTube transmissions. The support we received from POLAR has once again been exemplary, from the pre-sales meetings with Stuart, Will, and Mark through to the configuration of the equipment with the POLAR engineers.”
“NTU and Roche have successfully rolled out a number of schemes using Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers, so there was a pre-existing appreciation of just how effectively the Iconyx can handle potentially difficult spaces,” comments POLAR business development manager Mark Bromfield. “The main challenge at 48 Shakespeare Street was the fact that it was on two levels. Very careful consideration had to be given to the speaker placements, not only in terms of achieving the highest standard of intelligibility but also to meet the aesthetic needs of the heritage architecture. The project team has succeeded in both respects, creating a visually discreet system that delivers exceptional audio.”
Text and photos courtesy of POLAR Audio.