West London based sound & lighting specialist Entec’s sound department has completed a specialist d&b sound installation at one of London’s most significant historical landmarks, Stationers Hall, a grade one listed building near to St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
The building, the home of the Worshipful Company of Stationers & Newspaper Makers formed originally in 1559, dates back to 1763 and is now also one of London’s most prestigious corporate event venues. It is owned by The Livery group, which also manages St Paul’s Cathedral.
They wanted to upgrade the existing sound system which had been in service for 10 years, and replace it with a state-of-the-art permanent audio system to facilitate the venue’s busy schedule. This needed to cover the many organisational activities of the Stationers like conferences, seminars and meetings as well as to service the myriad of external events staged there – such as gala dinners, receptions, weddings, conferences and assorted functions in this magnificent venue.
Entec was recommended to design and install the new sound system – which also covers 2 smaller rooms – the Court room and Stock room. Entec’s Peter Codron took on overall sound design and project management of the new system, working closely with another experienced Entec engineer, Liam Halpin, who designed the processing architecture.
“It was a tough brief,” Codron explains, “The audio system had to be completely multi-functional – excellent for speech and equally as good for background music. The Grade 1 listing status meant that at every stage of the design and installation, plans had to be approved and signed off by their surveyor.”
Additional challenges included ensuring that it provided a straightforward solution that could be operated by in-house staff as well as being flexible enough to cater for all the different configurations and events without hanging multiple speakers.
Apart from the demanding technical requirements, with aesthetics to the fore, it was absolutely vital that the installation didn’t intrude on the distinctive interior which includes ornate ceilings and elaborate wood panelled walls.
The initial brief was to replace the existing PA system, provide a record option and 8 channels of radio, but this was then expanded to facilitate routing audio sources into any room, so a BiAMP distribution system was added to the spec with an Audia Solo 8×8 system processor.
This gives the client an option of feeding sources like CD or iPods that can be run in the other rooms simultaneously whatever might be happening in the main hall, all of which can be recorded onto a Tascam solid state recorder.
The loudspeakers in the main hall are 4 x d&b E8s. These were chosen for their incredible smoothness and clarity, their elegant and unobtrusive appearance, and to satisfy the main requirement for speech with the SPL to deal with music when needed.
In the Court Room there are two more E8s and for the Stock Room, two d&b E0s. All the loudspeakers in the venue have been custom painted to match the surround and are driven by d&b D6 amplifiers.
The bespoke control rack casing is one of the most impressive elements of the installation. This was made to measure once the equipment spec had been finalised and was hand crafted from English oak by Stationers’ own specialist cabinet makers from Wales, and stained to match the dark wood colours of the panelling and other features around the hall.
Along with the solid state recorder, processing devices and control, Entec also supplied a Tascam CD player and a pair of Sontronics STC1 mics to replace their original banquet mics, together with the 8 channels of Sennheiser G3 500 radios and a Soundcraft EPM12 mixer.
Codron added “I believe we have succeeded in giving the client a high performance and intelligible system with simple control and flexibility the venue required. They seem very happy with the outcome”.