Halls fit for a king
Kings Place Music Foundation, a new iconic building around Kings Cross and St Pancras on the Regent's Canal, opened its doors on 1st October 2008. This is the first newly built concert hall in London since the Barbican opened twenty-five years ago in 1982. Occupying three subterranean levels of a £100 million office block development behind Kings Cross railway station, the Foundation, consisting of two performance spaces, several multipurpose satellite rooms, rehearsal rooms and full recording/editing suites, is the brainchild of Peter Millican, director of property developer Parabola Land.
Leading sound designer Scott Myers, who built his reputation with the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, started at the venue in May in the capacity of technical director. As the infrastructural requirements grew organically, so Myers sensed the need to augment Arup Acoustics' original specification. In Hall One, Myers took the radical decision to replace the originally specified sound system with his own concept. Extending his long relationship with London-based Orbital Sound, he sourced loudspeakers from d&b audiotechnik. These he configured into arrays whereby one enclosure is front facing, one side on and the third rear projecting into the void at the back of the hall. Myers calls this the 'Janus' cluster, which he points out, 'Can de-rig in fifteen minutes because whenever there's an acoustic concert I don't want to see any loudspeakers.' These arrays, each comprising a d&b Q7, E8 and E0 loudspeaker are mounted on stainless steel band hoists (like chain hoists) with two shackles on each end, which when not in use can be removed immediately.
All the d&b loudspeakers and amplifiers were supplied by Orbital Sound, with Myers specifying sufficient components to enable him to set up either a 7.1 or 5.1 surround system in any performance space. In consultation with Orbital Sound's installation manager Tom Byrne, Scott Myers utilised ArrayCalc before finalising his decision. In addition to the optional flown rig, a second system at stage level comprises a d&b B2-SUB, a pair of E15X subwoofers and further Q7 loudspeakers, shoehorned in behind the left/right grilles. d&b E12 enclosures were also supplied to provide the performers with stage monitoring or alternatively to be deployed as stand-alone systems. A further ten E8 loudspeakers are used for surrounds. Myers notes, 'The stage system is stacked really tightly; the E15X subwoofers are not designed to operate with the B2s, but on the scheme that I had put together I'd noticed there was a hole in the frequency spectrum for the melodic content. I was missing the clarity on some of the notes from the bass player so I added a pair of E15X-SUBs on each side and it works really well.'
Acoustically optimised by Arup Acoustics and architects Dixon-Jones with variable heavy curtaining, this elegantly oak-veneered four-hundred-and-twenty-capacity Hall One, is equally purpose built for an unamplified orchestra as it is for a rock band, having a variable RT time between 0.8 and 1.4 seconds. Scott Myers knew the venue had to be able to respond to sudden changes, and this is exactly what has been accomplished by all who were involved.
In Hall Two, which is a flat floor space that can accommodate one hundred and sixty-eight seated or three hundred and thirty standing, the sound reinforcement system is again provided by a d&b E15X-SUB and Q7 combination, with B2 subwoofers, and an E8 providing front fill on each side of the stage. 'To date I have spent one million eight hundred pounds on sound, video and lighting and I'm not done yet,' he promises. 'This is the best infrastructure you can buy and I'm just a satellite dish away from being able to broadcast live in HD!'