The Royal Albert Hall is one of Europe’s most historic concert halls. It has housed over 150,000 live performances and has a capacity of up to 6,000. Alongside the main hall itself, the building boasts a series of several other unique spaces including the North Circle Bar. Whereas the Bar was traditionally used as a drinking area prior to performances in the main space, the venue wanted to transform it into a live music environment with a purposely designed audio system. They approached White Light to provide the complete technical solutions.
The decision to renovate the North Circle Bar came as part of a wider development within the Royal Albert Hall. Steph Baldwin, Technical Project Manager at the Royal Albert Hall, comments: “We strive to ensure that all of our spaces are being used to their full potential. The North Circle Bar overlooks the Albert Memorial and is the perfect size for intimate performances. Working alongside the venue’s Project Manager Matt Mann, we wanted to have the capability to use the space as a live music environment on occasion – which was why we contacted WL”.
WL’s Lee Dennison comments: “When we were approached by the venue, they gave us a very specific, clear brief: they wanted the room to have a discrete audio set-up with very simple controls. It was important that the audio could provide the very best support for any live performance yet not be overly complicated”.
Lee made several visits to the Bar in order to fully assess the space and its requirements. This was then followed by a demonstration with some of the venue’s main stakeholders, in which Lee showcased some of the very latest audio equipment taken from WL’s inventory.
Lee adds: “After much discussion between ourselves and the venue, we decided that a K-array system would fulfil the brief due its powerful amplification and clear acoustics”.
The system used was a K-array KK102 Mark I. This is a passive speaker system comprised of sixteen 2” neodymium magnet transducers housed in an elegant and sturdy stainless steel chassis. The system provides specific vertical coverage to keep bounce and reflection to a minimum but greater horizontal dispersion to allow for the coverage required for patrons attending the bar and live events. This is then supplemented by a K-array sub to provide a full range and extremely dynamic system for spoken word through to full live band amplification.
Another one of the factors when deciding the system was the aesthetics. Lee comments: “We had to ensure that the installation was as discrete as possible. The K-array speakers have long, slim features meaning they are naturally unobtrusive and fit into any room. That said, to ensure that they completely blended into the Bar space, we wrapped them in acoustically transparent vinyl which matched the room’s colour scheme”.
Alongside the K-array equipment, WL also drew on the Yamaha TF1 Mixer in order to control all of the live elements within the space coupled with a WiFi access point to allow for iPad operation. An installed Yamaha MRX7D acts as both system management and interface to allow for system use with the mixer as well as EVAC services connection. Shure QLXD radio microphones are also used within the space.
WL installed the audio system over a three-week period and also oversaw the lighting installation within the space. The North Circle Bar is now being used as a live performance venue, with every act assured that they will receive the greatest audio support possible.