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Hexagon Theatre benefits from new PEL PA and VA system without closing its doors

Hexagon Theatre benefits from new PEL PA and VA system without closing its doors

PEL services has completed a major upgrade to the public address (pa) and voice alarm (va) system at Reading’s hexagon theatre, a unique architectural asset of the burgeoning Berkshire town. At the same time, PEL refurbished the security systems in place to provide the premises with greater protection out of hours. All work was carried out by PEL without compromising the theatre’s busy schedule of events.

As the name suggests, The Hexagon Theatre was built in the shape of an elongated hexagon in 1977 and is a multi-purpose theatre and arts venue with a maximum capacity of 1,200 seated. A versatile facility, several different staging configurations in the Auditorium are possible. Outside the performance-space, the many levels and access-ways make for a complex acoustic environment. The particular age and architectural character of the largely solid-concrete structure of the building produced some additional challenges along the way.

PEL’s expert engineers designed, supplied, tested and commissioned a multiple zoned, high-specification Bosch Praesideo PA and VA digital system, designed to take care of the Hexagon Theatre’s visitors, performers and staff, from backstage to front-of-house.

The quality of the system, design and installation enables the Theatre’s many spaces to be comprehensively filled with intelligible sound, notably including useful improvements to the show-relay into dressing rooms and artists’ corridor, as well as comprehensive VA readiness for all corners and levels.

The Bosch Praesideo system was ideally suited to the Hexagon Theatre as its daisy-chain network (topology) means system elements can be connected to virtually any point and any type of equipment to be located wherever most suitable in the building – including the many corners in this unusually shaped building.

The system features 150 discreet low-profile speakers and a number of line column speakers which have replaced some of the previous cabinets to provide more efficient sound-distribution while actually reducing the total number of speakers. Energy savings have also been made with this new system, with the control rack reduced from a power-hungry 6ft tower to an efficient and compact unit less than half the size, even saving on space at the side of stage.

Over 10,000 metres of cable was used in this substantial installation, giving an indication of the size of the overall project. The result is a future-proofed, optimised PA and VA system for this popular theatre.

For The Hexagon, the quality of the sound for safety announcements in particular was a fundamental objective of the new system. However, it was also essential that the theatre remained open for business while the system was installed, so as to maximise revenue.

PEL’s installation quality showed in the works progress, carefully planned according to The Hexagon’s busy performance and rehearsals calendar, with commencement following the pantomime season. Potentially noisy and intrusive passages of work were programmed by PEL on dark (non-performance) days and during gaps in rehearsals. Work was also conducted by PEL out-of-hours, in order to make rapid progress while keeping the theatre operational.

Commenting on PEL’s approach to this project, Fiona Swell, assistant manager of The Hexagon said: “PEL have managed the project professionally and efficiently, considering the complexity of the building and the busy events schedule at The Hexagon. We had concerns initially about the disruption caused by such a large project happening while the building remained open, however this was totally unfounded. PEL communicated with us every step of the way, taking into account the many operational issues involved in the install, and wouldn’t hesitate to use them in the future.”

PEL combined its sound, fire and security systems expertise to also identify and install the next generation of upgrades to the Theatre’s security measures, to keep the building safe when not in use.

3rd August 2015

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