Situated in the trendy Botanic Avenue area of Belfast in a converted Victorian church, The Empire Music Hall is an original and adaptable space, hosting a wide variety of events from intimate cabaret to concerts and comedy – the ‘Empire Laughs’ Black Comedy Club is a Belfast institution – and is one of the city’s best loved venues.
Owners, Wine Inns Ltd, required a new, high specification Front of House sound system installed that would deliver excellent audio coverage across the venue’s dancefloor, as well as the raised tiers of seating areas and audience vantage points. The company’s technical manager, Will Barrett, contacted technical production company, Adlib, who 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,” says 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, with extensive panelled timber surfaces amplifying and exciting mid-band frequencies,” Roger explains. “There is also a very large feature mirror feature 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 discuss the pros and cons of the existing rig and to finalise the brief for any new system, which would take all these elements these into account. The venue was then modelled utilising L-Acoustics 3D acoustical simulation software, Soundvision, allowing the Adlib team to determine an optimum loudspeaker system solution for the space.
“A combination of L-Acoustics 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,” continues Roger. “This combination is very a 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,” says Roger. “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.”
“We couldn’t be happier with the results,” says the venue’s resident engineer, Dee Kyle. “Adlib’s management and on-site team took the time to map the room in its entirety and applied their professionalism, expertise and helpful nature to achieve excellent audio quality and coverage.”