On any given night Hamilton Place Theatre hosts shows ranging from dance performances, through one man standup acts, like Billy Connolly, to the Hamilton Philharmonic and touring artists like Morrissey and Sarah McLachlan. In 2015, owing to changes in the entertainment industry, the 2,200-seat venue’s audio system was upgraded substantially and now boasts a rig driven exclusively by Lab.gruppen amplifiers.
“The previous system was installed roughly 15-years-ago,” said Mike Stewart, Head of Audio at Hamilton Place. “More bands tour without full production now, and while the old system provided decent coverage, we needed something that would provide more output, tighter sound, and make the venue more flexible and competitive.”
The original design called for Kling & Freitag (K&F) loudspeakers and Lab.gruppen amps, but it wasn’t until Lab.gruppen’s D Series amps were released that Stewart and Calvin Roy, Vice President of Product Sales/Integration at Hamilton, Ontario-based Soundbox Pro, realised how good a fit the D Series were for the venue’s needs and for the K&F system specifically. “We worked closely with K&F and Lab.gruppen to develop the design,” Calvin said. “And chose the new D Series amps because they integrated Dante audio networking.”
The Dante protocol allowed the venue to reuse existing cabling infrastructure, keeping the project cost effective and limiting the time taken for the install. “It’s solid, quality cabling and piping. Initially, we were going to use Lab.gruppen amplifiers with an external Dante box, but when the D Series came out and we realised we could do what we needed using a standalone, touring grade amplifier in an install package it was a win win situation.”
In total four D Series D 80’s drive under balcony, L-R house fills and front fills, and eight D 200s power the line array and subs. Additionally, three PLM 12K44 amps drive the monitor system. A digital console located at FOH is used to control both mains and monitors.
All the new system elements were installed by the venue’s in-house IA crew and while the new loudspeaker system is significantly larger and allows Hamilton Place to better serve diverse touring acts, the four-channel D Series’ power, and the integration of Dante and Lake Processing allowed the venue to cut the number of amps needed to run the rig by roughly half. “We went with the version with the Lake processor because Lake is the de facto standard for live performance and touring,” Mike said, “Which saved us having to buy external processing.”
“A lot of companies have four-channel amps, but the Labs being four in and four out gave us more control,” Calvin added, “which allowed us to build the whole network seamlessly and, with the Dante audio networking backbone, send basically unlimited amount of audio signal anywhere we wanted. So, if a touring act does want to hang their own system and tap into the under balconies, main hang, and/or subs, we can. Lab.gruppen is the only company to offer that.”
This project represents one of the first installations of Lab.gruppen D Series in North America and since the install in January 2015 Lab.gruppen’s D Series have become the K&F’s system amplifier resulting in a K&F version of the range. Hamilton place was during the install upgraded to the K&F version with red fronts. “K&F actually rewrote and reevaluated their specs based on what the new Lab amplifiers could do,” Calvin continued. “The presets built for his system are far beyond what we’d get with any other amplifier/processing. Also, the cost savings of having DSP integrated in the amplifier directly was a big advantage.”
“They’re a studio quality amplifier for a live application and they sound great,” Mike summed up, citing the first big show with the rig, The Tea Party, in mid-September 2015. “It was just rocking. Having Lake processing in the amps made the system more compact and it’s really plug and play. Also, Lab.gruppen is one of those companies that takes feedback from end users and constantly evolves their product and pushes the limits.”