With the disbandment of the University of London Union this year (now rebranded as the ‘Student Central’) the students committee, under student activities and events manager Allan Adams, decided to bring its live space ‘The Venue’ into the 21st century with a complete refurbishment.

This included investing in a Harman Professional sound reinforcement infrastructure designed by Ed Manwaring of EM Communications.

Supporting the EM Communications design were Ben Todd and Hugo Burnard from the special projects team at Sound Technology, the UK and Eire distributors for all Harman Professional brands.

Ed has been servicing The Venue’s technical requirements for the past three years and specified a JBL VRX line array and Soundcraft digital mixing platform for the space. This was all part of Allan’s vision to get the facility back on the touring circuit.

“The work involved specifying rider-friendly equipment and relocating the main FOH mixing position from the seated balcony upstairs to the main dance floor, as acoustically this was wrong,” Ed explains.

With blue seating and a blue linoleum floor replacing the original wooden floor and the balcony now opening up behind a glass barrier, Ed set to work by specifying hangs of four JBL VRX932LAs per side to provide even coverage through the main 600-capacity venue.

This also covers the concertina doors to the annex bar/foyer area at the rear, which creates a combined capacity of 1,200.

Across the front of the stage are eight VRX 918S subs – four ground stacked in the centre and two blocks of two recessed under the apron, stage left and right – all designed in a cardioid pattern.

Two JBL VTX F12 12-inch speakers serve on stage as front fills, which can swivel back and function as a DJ monitor at stage left when taken out of concert mode.

Driven by Crown iTech HD amplifiers containing BSS OmniDrive processing, the system was set up and optimised using a combination of Harman’s HiQnet Audio Architect and Smaart analysis tools.

Ed also replaced the old amp rack position so that the foldback engineer can now see the Soundcraft Vi1 at the FOH position through a newly created hatch.

He then specified a hybrid Soundcraft Si Performer 3, enabling the venue to make use of the desk’s DMX universe to run the 30 channels of LED Fresnel lighting when Conference Mode is required.

When used in this mode the desk will also take over FOH duties. “They can come in without an engineer, recall the scene and control everything from their laptop,’ he says.

“I have been a Soundcraft user for years,” he continues.

“It’s rider friendly and everything is on board. Relocating from front of house to the main auditorium we needed a small footprint desk that was easy to pack away when the room is double turned – with a band playing earlier followed by a DJ. The DJ then simply plugs into the custom panel next to the Mini Stagebox 32.”

The Vi1 itself is supplied with a Madi card and like the Si Performer, the recording interface gives it the ability to manage live multitrack recording and connect to the engineer’s own DAW.

The room is also frequently utilised as a cinema, resulting in Ed designing the environment to be reconfigured in the software, accessible via a simple ‘Recall Cinema’ preset. The perimeter bulkhead house lighting has been incorporated into the Si Performer.


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