Housed in a former sheep-trading market, now a grade II listed building, The Fleece is Bristol’s largest independent music venue and has welcomed the likes of Radiohead, Oasis, Muse, Jeff Buckley, Coldplay, Sea Girls, Amy Winehouse, Frank Carter & Rattlesnakes, Queens Of The Stone Age, George Ezra and Ed Sheeran to name but a few.
When the Covid-19 pandemic forced The Fleece into temporary closure, it presented a rare opportunity for a complete refurbishment – one that the management seized with both hands. The Fleece has been offering live music and club nights seven nights a week since 1982 – little wonder then, that the facilities, including the PA system, were due for an upgrade. The ambitious project comprised a full interior redesign including a new, larger stage with new LED screens, new lighting systems and a comprehensive KV2 sound system.
Technical manager Rich Munday explains that the previous PA had been in place and working hard for twenty years, so was well overdue for an upgrade. “The enforced closure induced by the Covid-19 pandemic was the ideal opportunity for us to refurbish from top to bottom,” he says. “I’d first heard the KV2 PA in action at a demo at PLASA 2019. The sound was head and shoulders above everything else I’d heard, and I made a mental note that if the opportunity to get a new PA for the Fleece ever arose, this is what I’d recommend!”
Munday was also keen to differentiate The Fleece from other venues in Bristol. “I felt that if we wanted to be better, we have to be different. Where other venues have opted for line arrays, I actively prefer a point source system – with its well-defined high end, it’s more immediate and packs a lot more punch in my opinion.”
After consultation with the team at KV2, Munday opted for a pair of VHD2.0 3-way mid/hi cabinets supplemented by eight VHD4.18 passive 18’ subwoofers and a pair of EX12 infills.
“I’d already created a digital 3D model of the venue as a blueprint for the refit so, once we had a specific KV2 solution in mind, I was able to add that into the virtual model to check the exact fit and audio coverage requirements,” he explains. “During our onsite testing, the KV2’s sheer power literally shook the dust from the rafters, and its hi-fi quality sound showed up the limitations of mp3 like no system I’ve ever heard.”
“We’ve been using the KV2 PA for seven months now and have no doubts that we made the right decision,” continued Munday. “It’s incredibly detailed at all volumes and hugely powerful, with an extraordinary amount of headroom. It effortlessly handles everything from whisper-quiet spoken word to the most extreme death metal show! The soundstage is also remarkable. The sound is just there across the whole stage, coming from the performers, not the PA. Finally, the feedback rejection and stability are excellent – a major plus for a live system.”
Munday notes that reactions to the system, both from visiting engineers and audiences, have been nothing but positive. “When guest engineers arrive with touring bands, the sound check is usually the first time they’ve used a KV2 system and they’ve universally praised it. There’s an enormous grin that appears as soon as they unleash the KV2’s sheer power and experience the hi-fi quality – at that point, we know they’re sold on it!”
“Any audience coverage issues with our old PA have been resolved by the KV2 system, particularly at the front of the audience. Vocals are clear and legible throughout the auditorium, yet the compact form factor of the loudspeaker systems means that the PA doesn’t dominate the performance space. Feedback from audiences has been very positive – they definitely notice the difference and love the immersive experience. We couldn’t have made a better choice!”