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Compact JBL Line Array for Aston University

Compact JBL Line Array for Aston University

Harman Pro UK has installed an integrated audio solution, incorporating a new JBL VRX 932LA line array, as part of a major refurbishment of Aston University’s Great Hall, in Birmingham. The installation, in partnership with Quadrant Visual Solutions, is the first in the UK of the new compact JBL line array series.

   The Great Hall, within the imposing domed Aston Webb Building, dates back to 1900. A multi-function facility, as well as providing the largest lecture theatre on the campus, the hall is also used for seminars, presentations, examinations, graduation ceremonies, and performances and concerts of all kinds. Last refurbished during the 1960s, the current project was intended to bring it up to fully modern standards for presentation and performance.

   Working with Harman Pro UK as a strategic partner, Quadrant put together a tender to provide a flexible, and aesthetically pleasing audio solution, that addressed the many acoustic issues of the hall, with its high ceiling, expansive windows and other highly reflective surfaces, incorporating the JBL VRX, Crown amplification, dbx processing, AKG microphones, and a Soundcraft mixing console. The client was impressed by the quality and the thoroughness of the specification, of the Harman/ Quadrant proposal. The availability of the new VRX compact line array in particular was key to the solution.

   “The VRX is specifically designed to address the requirement for small to medium professional sound systems, for high performance fixed installations,” comments Tom Williams, Harman Pro UK’s Acoustician, and a key member of the project team, “VRX was an ideal and timely solution for the Great Hall.”

   Providing levels of power and clarity associated with a large, high-end line array system, the VRX shares components and design elements with JBL’s Vertec Series. Hugely flexible, with its expediently sized 12” two-way enclosure, the VRX delivers outstanding coverage and output coherence.

   Four elements of VRX932 per side, in two main arrays, capitalises on the acoustic properties of the line array to achieve even coverage and minimal delay across the hall’s tiered seating. The arrays are augmented with VRX918S sub bass enclosures on the ground.

   “To achieve the best intelligibility,” continues Williams, “they needed to get as much of the sound image as possible emanating from the speaker positions.” As the principal use of the system is for lectures, enabling 500 students to hear the spoken word in many different accents and dictions and styles of delivery projections was a primary concern. Here the positionsing and focussed coverage of the VRX arrays work very effectively in conjunction with AKG 747 shotgun microphones, which feature high quality off-axis rejection properties, along with a dbx 260 DriveRack for speaker processing and microphone feedback suppression; critical elements of the system design, as lecturers stand slightly in front of the arrays.

   Power is provided by four Crown MacroTech AM5002VZs, chosen for their reliability, robust design, and ease of installation. The Soundcraft GB4 console was selected as among the most powerful that could be shoehorned into the available space, and provides FOH and monitoring mixing, when the hall is in use as a performance venue.

   Aston’s Head of Media, Steve Ellis, expresses the university’s satisfaction with the performance hike achieved with the new Harman system. “The system opens up a myriad of new possibilities for everyone using the hall, and takes them into a completely new audio dimension.

   “The sound system had to cover for so many scenarios, but the result is superb and everyone feels that the sound is one of the most successful parts of the whole refurbishment project. Quadrant and Harman paid real attention to the details, listened and understood what we really needed. They came up with an inventive solution, their plans were thorough and incorporated the entire space, and they always looked at ‘the bigger picture’, rather than just treating it like a stack of speakers in an academic hall.”

4th April 2006

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