Area 51, Westminster University

  • London
Avolites Tiger TouchYamaha DME24NL'Acoustics ARCS WIFO

Installation at teaching and live music facility

A full L’Acoustics audio system with two Avid digital consoles, a complete lighting and AV rig including an Avolites desk was installed at Westminster University’s live music and teaching facility Area 51. Located within Westminster University’s Harrow Campus, Area 51 is part of the Music Arts and Design department and is used for several courses including BMUS Commercial Music Performance, BA Commercial Music and MA Audio Production.

The venue was in urgent need of a complete refurbishment as it was a dark and dingy space with old and tired equipment. With funding secured for a complete remodelling and renovation of the building, Head of Music Arts and Design Alan Fisher was keen to find a supplier who could supply and install state of the art Audio, Lighting and AV systems for the project.

Westminster’s Studio Engineer commmented on the University’s choice of supplier, “SSE is a company I was aware of through both its touring work and installation projects such as Warwick University Students Union and Rescue Rooms, Nottingham. Rescue Rooms in particular was a very similar size to our venue and provided a good base comparison for our research purposes.” Richard Evatt-Studio Engineer

“SSE’s support structure was also a selling point for us, the fact that we can contact them directly with any technical issues and their ability to have replacement units out to us quickly gives us peace of mind that our events will take place without a hitch.”

We were first approached by Richard Evatt, Westminster’s Studio Engineer in early 2013 about the project. With the Park Royal premises just a few miles down the road, the company was an obvious choice of supplier. Following a site visit Alex Penn drew up an initial design for the new and improved Area 51.

L-Acoustics ARCS WIFO system

Inside Area 51 for the main PA an L’Acoustics ARCS WIFO system was specified. This consists of L-R flown arrays of three ARCS FOCUS per side with six SB18i Subs located in recesses in the stage apron. The entire system is powered by two L’Acoustics LA8 amplified controllers.

On stage eight L’Acoustics 12XT have been supplied for monitors along with one SB15M as a drum sub, all driven by two LA4X amplified controllers. The LA4X is particularly well suited to running the 12XTs as passive monitors as each amplifier can deliver four seperate mix channels.

Evatt is extremely impressed with the L’Acoustics system, “It’s a brand that I’ve always liked both the sound and design of so when we came to the spec for our venue upgrade it seemed like the logical choice. They also come in at a competitive price point compared to other brands with the same kind of performance.”

Avid and Pro Tools

As a commited Pro Tools user in their studio spaces, the university was keen to have an Avid solution for the FOH and monitor consoles. Two Avid VENUE SC48 surfaces were supplied, a standard SC48 for monitors, whilst at FOH an SC48 and Stage 48 Remote bundle were specified. With the Avid consoles it is now possible to take live multitrack recordings from the venue which can edited later at the University’s recording studios.

Careful consideration was given to the design of the audio & lighting infrastructure in order to maximise the systems flexibility. A mobile stage rack houses the Stage 48 Remote rack and a master 48 input panel which then provides a passive split patched direct into the Stage 48 and a multipin outlet and fan-out for the monitor console. A wall mounted panel provides all the links to and from the FOH position including Cat 5 links for the Stage 48, FOH returns, master AES inputs to the amp rack as s MON inputs, which then provides the 8 mix speaker outputs at various positions on stage.

A second panel provides on stage inputs and out puts for monitors and DJ equipment whilst on the stage there are a further four monitor outputs from the LA4X. Overall system processing, control and noise limiting is via a Yamaha DME24N to comply with licence restrictions. At FOH a PC was installed, running LA-Network Manager 2 for remote monitoring of the four L’Acoustics amplified controllers. In addition the PC handles control pages for the DME24N and also remotely controlls a Panasonic video camera.

Lighting in Area 51

A full replacement lighting rig is part of the installation. The technical team at the University opted for an Avolites Tiger Touch lighting console, keen to use a whole host of its latest features including iPad remote control. A total of 40 lamps were supplied including Martin RUSH Pro Strobes, Martin MAC 350 Entours, Robe Robin LED Beam 100s, Martin MAC 101s, Chauvet COLOR Dash PAR Quad 18s and Le Maitre MVS Hazers.

The specification gives students access to industry standard equipment. “Robe and Martin fixtures give us the reliability and versatility we require to support the many varied events that take place in the venue,” commented Richard Evatt.