Ancienne Belgique updates with d&b
One of the most famous and revered venues in Europe, the Ancienne Belgique otherwise known as AB has always carefully protected its reputation as a groundbreaking venue. From its early beginnings, through acts like Blondie, The Ramones and Lena Lovich, to the present day with Starsailor, Rufus Wainwright or Heather Nova, AB has come to be known as the place to play for up coming bands.
No surprise then when the technical director Marc Vrebos chose to invite all serious pro-audio manufacturers to demonstrate their latest sound systems when the time came for renewal of the house PA. "The previous system had been installed in '96, we knew from our own experiences, and from listening to what touring sound engineers told us, that the time had come for a line array," he said.
AB's Head of Sound Tom Janssen, assisted by Sven Van den Broek, AB's longest serving in-house sound engineer, Tom Lezaire and Cora Oosterlinck organised all the testing over a twelve-month period, using a quantitative assessment that examined several contributing factors towards selecting a preferred system. "The main hall has a mixed capacity, two thousand all standing, six hundred and fifty seated, or mixed multiples between. Controlled coverage in the vertical plane was crucial, we can have a flat floor for a standing audience, or temporary raked seating installed, and there's a small balcony to consider. Keeping the whole system neat was also important;; we wanted a stereo system in two single hangs that did not require infill loudspeakers. It also needed to perform for any band, whatever the style or level required."
The final selection was for a J-Series system, the very latest PA from d&b audiotechnik, supplied by Bart Willems of Amptec Stage and Studio Technology, d&b's sales partner in Belgium. Marc Vrebos was clear in his purchase decision, he even wrote to all contenders to explain the rationale for choosing this system. "I told them all, J was one of the top systems for sound quality, but there were several that fit this criteria. Ergonomics played a crucial role, the system had to be fast to install and remove, yet safe and foolproof to rig. Dispersion was very important and not just in the highs and mids; the cardioid subs of the J-Series provide exceptional coverage, especially to the elevated seats. The d&b D12 amplifier also proved superior to anything else in terms of their ability to deliver complete information about what is going on inside the loudspeaker cabinets; error reporting, driver failure, remote zone control, all the digital feedback." Vrebos also cited AB's long-term relationship with Amptec, "confidence in the distributor is important to us, we want to know back up is there, and that it will always be there. That's a service Bart and his company have been providing to us for more than ten years."
The d&b system was delivered and installed by Amptec in Jan '06, just ahead of its simultaneous launch at SEIL in Paris and Entech in Australia, and is already hard at work with the profusion of talent, new and old, that is the heart and soul of Ancienne Belgique.