ArrayProcessing: tried and tested for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The Royal Albert Hall (RAH) London is a Victorian era multipurpose concert hall that today presents all forms of musical performance as well as sporting, lecture, and many other events including, for the last fifteen years, The Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) concerts, a series of fund raising events initiated and driven by Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who.
Entec Sound & Light has supplied the sound reinforcement systems for the TCT concerts since inception and has an established reputation for presenting the very latest audio technology. Starting with point source systems, recent years have seen the move to line arrays: Entec system designer Liam Halpin first specified the d&b J-Series seven years ago: “The RAH is the most idiosyncratic of concert halls. Tall vertical coverage is required but over a relatively short throw distance. There’s also the infamous glass dome cupola to contend with, an architectural feature totally unsympathetic to sound reinforcement.
“Since ’08 we’ve been putting in J-Series systems for TCT. That said I do revisit my designs for RAH every time I come here, not just for these shows,“ reveals Halpin. Year on year I make changes: things can always evolve. Don’t forget, this is not a simple left/right mains venue, the RAH demands a distributed system approach. For the fifteenth anniversary TCT concerts I have J-Series left/right for mains, V-Series to the sides, and a small line array of Y-Series for back firing coverage at 270 degrees.
“The classic issue with line arrays here is the low-mid rumble. Performance of the low-mid level over distance is dictated by the geometry of the array; typically it’s nice and warm sounding at the front but once you get behind the mix position in the stalls it starts to get a little muddy. Elsewhere the HF naturally thins out. That’s before we address issues with the dome.”
Prior to the 2015 TCT concerts, Entec along with selected d&b users from around the world, were invited to preview the new ArrayProcessing feature, now available in the latest ArrayCalc software. Halpin was in attendance: “As soon as I heard the theoretical basis of the idea, the ability to relocate frequency specific energy anywhere within the defined dispersion field of d&b loudspeaker systems, that explanation was enough for me. When I told them I wanted to use ArrayProcessing here at the RAH they were very enthusiastic. They know the venue well, and know its difficulties, but they still said, ‘Of course you must do it.’”
The TCT concert series provided an ideal platform to test the effectiveness of ArrayProcessing in a uniquely challenging environment, as well as confirm the feature’s ease of use; the event was also the first time ArrayProcessing would be applied in a live situation, without direct support from the d&b R&D team behind its development.
“The characteristic low-mid lobes you get in the first twenty metres of throw is now gone thanks to ArrayProcessing,” says Halpin. “For the RAH that helps a lot. And the implementation workflow is a joy. As a byproduct of using ArrayProcessing you now have the basic rules of line array and horizontal pattern control extended down to somewhere between 2-300 Hz (depending on array length), so overall, here at the RAH, we have better consistency of level and frequency over distance around the entire room. One of the other advantages is that we now don’t get low-mids welling up into the roof space. Ultimately you can avoid most reflections from up there. Now what is reflected is a lot cleaner so it’s less of an issue for the many performers and their attendant sound engineers who appear at TCT.”