The Lowry celebrates its tenth anniversary with a ‘first in the UK’ from d&b

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Just past its tenth birthday and The Lowry at Salford Quays in Salford has something to celebrate by having the first installation anywhere in the UK of d&b audiotechnik’s latest E6 loudspeaker. Not at first glance the most monumental reason to celebrate we grant you, but there is some significant history here. The E6 replaces the E3, d&b audiotechnik’s most popular loudspeaker ever, and by universal acclaim its most utilitarian model. It is a fact that you will find E3s in many thousands of theatres and concert halls all over the world and many of them have been there for two decades.

“We had decided to go with E3s,” said Dave Woodward, Technical Manager at The Lowry. “We’ve needed delays in the Lyric since we opened ten years ago, but they were value engineered out at the time. Virtually everything that tours here carries d&b loudspeaker systems; so we made our decision almost by default.”

The Lyric seats one thousand seven hundred and thirty with a deep circle and upper circle. “A lot of what we present here has TV actors performing drama, so the need for delay reinforcement was twofold. One, TV stars don’t seem to project as well as regular theatre actors, and two, these shows generally attract an older audience so their hearing tends to be diminished. We really needed to get sound into the back of the space, especially when float mic’ing. Also the rear walls of the auditorium are curved and we did find there was some reflection going on there which clouded the sound.”

The replacement of the E3 by the E6 gave Woodward pause for thought. “Paul Braddock at Wigwam told us the E3 was discontinued, but the E6 looked really good. I didn’t expect d&b to take this replacement lightly, but still I went to take a look at PLASA North. We couldn’t listen to them but the ease of rotating the horn for different dispersion applications was appealing as we do have secondary use for them on a temporary basis for conferencing break outs, for example. Paul promised they sounded as good if not better than the E3 and that is what we have found. In fact for us they’re slightly better because they deliver a decent amount of volume and you can run so many off one channel of an amplifier.”

Woodward has had a ring of E6s installed in each Circle, simultaneously adding heavy theatrical drapes hung along the rear walls to moderate the reflections. He has also taken another four E6s for the Studio to use as front fill. “Paul’s assessment of the E6 for our purposes was spot on; audibility in the Lyric is greatly improved. The extra loudspeakers we’ve put in the Studio are easily demountable for temporary use elsewhere, and with Wigwam just up the road from us, any call for extra equipment is quickly and easily done. The improvements are very noticeable, in fact after ten years it has given new momentum to a full system upgrade.”

Photography by Len Grant, Peter Fellows

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