Autograph Prepares Hull Theatre for City of Culture Role

Perhaps better known for its fishing fleet than its theatrical ambitions, the city of Kingston Upon Hull is busily preparing for its role as UK City of Culture in 2017. Hull Truck Theatre played a key role in the bidding team that secured this national accolade and their preparations for what will be a very busy year have included a thorough re-design and re-fit of their installed audio infrastructure.

Project-managed by Autograph’s Euan Mackenzie with commissioning by Technical Sales Manager Chris Austin, the project was complicated by the unusual shape of the performance space. A wide front section coupled with a very deep centre area meant that consistent coverage throughout the audience seating would require some lateral thinking, experimentation and subsequent careful positioning of loudspeaker modules throughout the room. To help control costs the client also wished to retain as much of the existing system as possible and to that end Autograph included and repurposed the installed Cobranet DSP and amplifiers where necessary within the new design. 

Working with EM Acoustics, who assisted greatly with the provision of numerous demonstration loudspeakers, the Autograph team conducted a series of on-site system trials to see what actually worked best within the challenging space. After much deliberation and consultation with the client, Euan recommended a hybrid system comprising both line-source and point-source components, all sourced from EM Acoustics. 

The final design comprises a pair of MSE-159 passive full-range enclosures as the main left and right (mounted on bespoke rigging engineered by Autograph specifically for the venue), plus two EMS-81X modules as out-fills and two EMS-118 subwoofers. A centre cluster of EM Acoustics’ HALO Compact line-source modules provides ideal coverage for the front seats while four compact EMS-61 units are deployed as delays. Despite the scale of the upgrade and attendant improvement in audio performance only one new amplifier was required, a QSC PL380 to drive the new subwoofers.

Euan said, ‘Using HALO Compact as the centre cluster gave us the ability to cover the front seats while minimising spill onto the stage, which is very important when shows are performed in-the-round. It also helps tie the stereo image together, as the wide proscenium dictated the position of the main left and right further off stage than we would normally put them.’

The theatre’s technical Manager Amy Clarey said, ‘We were really pleased with the attention to detail Autograph paid to the project. Our space is in the thrust so it can be very tricky for sound. Euan truly listened to what we wanted to achieve and was also sympathetic to the work we create in the space and came up with a system design that fulfills all of our needs.’

‘The new system has given our audience a better audio experience. It also allows us to be more creative sound wise and to deliver performances we couldn’t do in the past.’

Reproduced by kind permission of Autograph Sales & Installations.

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