First opened in 1968 under the catchy moniker of the Central Collegiate Building Auditorium (subsequently the Collegiate Theatre), The Bloomsbury Theatre – thankfully renamed in 1982 – showcases the best of theatre, music, dance, comedy and everything in between. Fiercly proud to be part of University College London (UCL), one of the world’s leading universities, The Bloomsbury Theatre works with students and researchers to bring ground-breaking discoveries to the stage. In 2018, fifty years after its very first performance, the landmark Brutalist building reopened its doors following a major renovation project to update its spectacular main auditorium which now boasts more than 500 luxurious seats. The final part of the renovation was the installation and commissioning of a significant EM Acoustics HALO-C PA system by theatre specialists, Autograph Sound.
Autograph’s Adam Broom explained: “There’s a bit of a back story here given that we in fact supplied the system before the renovation. As it made no sense to replace a system that had only just been replaced, it went into storage. Julian Brooks was appointed Technical Manager of The Bloomsbury in 2019 and he soon realised that the system needed some expertise to realise its full potential.”
Having worked with both Autograph and Broom in the past, it was natural for Brooks to turn to Autograph for help. “The HALO-C system was specified originally for live music and stand-up but the diversity of our programme means we really needed a bit more flexibility,” says Brooks. “Also, post-refurb the room was acoustically different and so I called upon Adam for assistance, to improve the capabilities and tuning of our system to handle musical theatre, commercial productions, student shows (as part of the theatre’s connection with UCL) and pretty much anything else we might be asked to do.”
“It was the perfect opportunity to look at the system design again with fresh eyes based on the programme of events the venue caters for in a season, which had definitely evolved since the original system design,” agrees Broom. “We predicted the space in EASE, re-hung and re-tuned the PA, added a pair of EMS-126s, and upgraded the system processing to Q-SYS as it offers a more flexible and unified control platform that suits the venue’s mixed programme and changing technical staff.”
Brooks concurs: “The HALO-C is a good, crisp system and adding a couple of EMS-126s as a L/R circle system has made the coverage really smooth throughout the house. Autograph also assisted us in updating the system processing to Q-SYS which among much else gives us proper time-alignment and presets for different routing options via a custom interface.”
The L/C/R system comprises 3 x HALO-C per side for the stalls and a centre cluster of 7 x HALO-C supplemented by 1 x EMS-118 sub per side. 4 x EMS-61s serve as front fills. 2 x EMS-126s serve as the circle L/R system with a further 2 x EMS-81X as circle fills.
“The combination of Autograph’s experience and EM’s loudspeakers has allowed us to achieve what we set out to do,” concludes Brooks. “It’s simple and easy to use whilst retaining the flexibility to change things if we need to.”