The Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2014 and is currently implementing a £1.4 million refurbishment programme. An integral part of the venue improvements includes the purchase of a new sound system focused on d&b audiotechnik Q-series loudspeakers, supplied by Orbital Sound.
The Assembly Hall's new sound system comprises sixteen d&b audiotechnik Q1 loudspeakers, two Q7 centre-fills, six E6 units as front fills, plus Q-subs and B2 subs, powered by d&b D12 amplifiers.
Mikey Powell, Assembly Hall Technical Manager:
"We secured funding to upgrade our existing loudspeaker system. The budget was limited, but we needed to ensure value for money whilst not compromising sound quality. Jay (James Christie) evaluated the systems available and recommended Orbital Sound as a provider."
Supporting installations for entertainment establishments forms a major part of Orbital Sound's regular activity, with its expert sales and installation teams establishing a reputation for technical excellence across a wide cross-section of complex projects. The emphasis is on offering a scalable range of options, from design consultancy, application support, product sourcing, installation, training and ongoing technical support.
For The Assembly Hall, the selection process involved a careful consultative approach, as James Christie, Sound Technician at the Assembly Hall, commented:
"Orbital Sound's Lucy Jenkins came to our rescue with the option of including ex-hire sales stock, ensuring that we could implement our plans within the given budget. We started with a careful evaluation of a typical twelve-month schedule, which encompasses mid to largescale touring productions and the national roster of touring shows. We had to make sure that the new system would cater for that spread of production types, so we speed up load-ins and loud-outs, and encourage the use of in-house equipment rather than having to hire-in extra kit for the larger productions.
"We therefore wanted to go for something that offered very good flexibility, while also being a familiar product - the d&b Q1s are well known and deservedly popular. We had the system up for two weeks as an initial trial, configured with two hangs of Q1 – eight per side in a J-pattern array – plus a stack of B2 subs and Q-subs per side, to give us a full stereo system. We also angled the top two Q1s on each hang to give us enough throw up to the balcony area, to avoid the necessity of having a balcony system as such. In fact, the amount of level that we can get out of each eight x Q1 hang is far more than we need in the 985-seat venue, and we will be attenuating the system back to suit the number of subs that we've deployed. We're using two Q7s for central imaging for the in-house musicals, with six E6 loudspeakers filling in the gaps across the front. Once the refurbishment is complete, we're going to experiment with housing two Q-subs – probably as a central pair – within the circle, to extend the low-frequency coverage to the back of the venue, if it proves necessary.
"During the initial two-week trial, in mid summer, we were able to give the system a good test with a couple of smaller productions, and the difference compared to our outgoing system was immense. Probably an unfair comparison, given the two very different technologies involved, but we are certainly very pleased with the results! We had excellent feedback from many quarters, including from the entire sound and lighting team – if the lighting guys like the sound, you must be doing something right!"
For Orbital Sound's director of sales, Andy Simmons, supporting a venue such as the Assembly Hall forms a key part of the company's ongoing remit, explaining:
"We have some 30 years of practical knowledge working in the UK's entertainment venues through our rental division, and as a result we have an unparalleled understanding as to their day-to-day requirements. So when a venue makes the decision to upgrade or even invest for the first time, we fully take on board the fact that it's a big deal for them - and for us. Our mission is to make sure they get the best return for their investment, and that's where our many years' experience at the front-end comes into play. We will look at every avenue to give them what they need – on the basis of ensuring that they will truly benefit for many years to come. It starts with investing in the right kit through to future training and support. We believe that this is what makes Orbital Sound stand apart – we are truly a natural partner for entertainment venues."