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Historic Royal Albert Hall in sound refit

Production News
20 May 2019

LONDON’S 5,200-capacity Royal Albert Hall (RAH) has successfully installed a “game-changing” audio system as part of a £2 million refit, with no interruption to its schedule, says Pat Smith of audiovisual specialist SFL. 

A 465-box loudspeaker system by manufacturer d&b audiotechnik was fitted into the 148-year-old venue, involving work in areas that had remained untouched since the original builders worked on it.

“The RAH constantly presents challenges,” says Smith. “For the speakers in the boxes we had to lift floorboards in every box on the Grand and Second tiers, lifting ornate and delicate carpet. We even discovered an antique beer bottle left by the original construction workers.”

Steve Jones, d&b’s systems designer, decided to hang a loudspeaker in front of each of the hall’s many gallery bays, where no rigging position had previously existed. “We got heritage approval to create 23 new penetrations in the ceiling,” says Smith. “Unusual Rigging suspended a small platform from a concealed RSJ [steel beam] so that we could drill in the desired place.” 

The project also involved the installation of new audio facilities panels and a “substantial” audio data network to support the integration of the hall’s new DiGiCo mixing consoles. 

“Last year the hall hosted over 300 events without disruption during the project,” says Smith. “The system delivers quality of sound to all areas in the house.” 

Mariah Carey, 10cc and Bryan Ferry are among acts playing the venue.

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