London's Royal Festival Hall a Shining Jewel with Amber Sound and Meyer Sound
One of central London's high-profile performance venues in the southern bank of the Thames River, Royal Festival Hall was the first post-war building in the UK to receive Grade 1 status as a protected landmark. It has drawn locals and tourists alike as the centerpiece of the bustling Southbank Centre complex since it was built in the 1950s. Now outfitted with a Meyer Sound M'elodie loudspeaker system, Royal Festival Hall's 2,900-seat auditorium regularly presents a schedule of diverse and eclectic events ranging from classical and chamber music to heavy metal, hip hop and talks.
Before its extensive two-year, £91 million renovation covering everything from acoustics to décor, Royal Festival Hall's was derided for decades for its challenging acoustics, which renowned UK conductor Simon Rattle once remarked "made performers lose the will to live."
US sound designer Larry Kirkegaard's acoustic treatment dramatically improved the Hall's acoustics, but in order to adequately accommodate the venue's extensive repertoire of contemporary work, Royal Festival Hall incorporated a sound system designed by Richard Nowell of RNSS, which credits include Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Barbican. Nowell specified that the system not only has to be both scalable and versatile, it also needs to work well with the acoustic "sails" installed over the stage.
Nowell's partner of choice is Hertfordshire, UK-based Amber Sound, which provided microphones, mixing desks, as well as the self-powered Meyer Sound loudspeakers. "RNSS arranged a demo of audio systems from five different manufacturers," explained Amber Sound's Director Graham Paddon. "It was quite a demanding shoot-out, carried out over five consecutive evenings using a single live cello as the primary sound source. The Meyer Sound system was simply the most natural sounding of the bunch; all we heard was a cello – nothing more, nothing less."
The resulting system includes eight Meyer Sound M'elodie line array loudspeakers that are permanently installed, augmented by 16 MILO line array loudspeakers and two MILO 120s available for use as necessary. Low frequency content is supplied by four 700-HP subwoofers. The system is controlled by a Galileo loudspeaker management system using three Galileo 616 units. Thirty-six UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers are also available for deployment around the building for use in the newly refurbished foyer and conference rooms.
Royal Festival Hall regularly features performances by its four resident orchestras including London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.