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Following extensive fire damage, popular Bristol venue SWX has reopened with an L-Acoustics KARA II audio package supplied. Like all venues, SWX in Bristol endured a difficult time during the Covid pandemic, remaining closed from the initial lockdown in March 2020. Fast forward to July 2021 when, with plans to reopen the following month, the venue was subject to an arson attack causing considerable damage throughout the building.
SWX is owned by Electric Group who were determined to reinstate the venue to its former glory. The focus of the £3.2m renovation was to restore the previous infrastructure with upgraded technology. Included in the fire damage was the audio system, an L-Acoustics dv-DOSC system that had been supplied on a contract rental basis. As part of the refurbishment works, Solotech were once again commissioned to supply the audio system.
SWX has opted to install the system on a Contract Rental basis. “It makes complete sense for a venue such as SWX,” commented Solotech Senior Sales Exec Louis Jemmott. “There’s all the tax advantages, where the entire cost of rental can be offset against tax and the equipment is the high end solution as used by our own Live Productions team. Then there’s no upfront cash flow required, which after the pandemic is extremely appealing for entertainment venues.”
The new system is based around L-Acoustics KARA II with main L-R hangs comprising six KARA II flown below two SB18 subs per side. Underneath the stage apron, four L-Acoustics KS28s provide the LF reinforcement. Senior Applications Engineer Kyle Durno commented, “The PAN waveguide on the front of the KARA II has enabled us to fly the PA about 2m higher than on the previous install.”
“With the old system, the SPL distribution across the audience was massive, because it was flown so low in an attempt to throw energy under a low ceiling towards the rear of the venue. As a result, near-field listeners were subjected to very high SPL’s compared to listeners at the rear, and elements within the dv-DOSC array were shadowed by people at high frequencies, given how low it was suspended.”
“By increasing the height of the KARA II, it brings the average distribution of SPL closer together across the whole audience. We utilised the pan-flex on the top pair of enclosures to minimise reflections from balcony fronts. Given the arrays are higher, we’ve added L-Acoustics ARCS WIDE under the low-ceiling area to reinforce the high frequency energy lost as the listener moves out of the vertical coverage of the KARA II source.”
The whole system is powered by a mixture of L-Acoustics LA12X and LA4X amplifiers with a QSC Q-SYS Core 110f providing DSP (digital signal processing), signal routing and system EQ. On stage, Solotech has installed ground stacked SB18s with ARCS Wide as side fills with L-Acoustics X12s for on stage monitoring. A pair of Allen & Heath dLive C3500 consoles have been supplied for FOH and monitor mixes, sharing a single dLive CDM48 digital stage rack. In addition to the main room, SWX has Room1, a smaller venue for DJs and club nights. Here a pair of L-Acoustics ARCS wide have been flown either side of a DJ booth, with a pair of KS 28s stood end-on to deliver the bottom end.
Louis Jemmott is delighted with how the project turned out: “SWX had a reputation as a great venue, but the new system takes that to another level. The design delivers even SPL throughout and it has plenty of headroom available for even the loudest of acts.
“We worked to an extremely tight schedule on this project. From confirmation to opening was just two months, presenting several challenges and more than one late night! Special credit should go to our install team of Kyle Durno, Mark Hatfield, Chris Thomas, Michael Price and Ben Calvert.”
“L-Acoustics KARA II will be extremely rider friendly – I can’t envisage there being many touring acts who want to bring in their own system. The management team at Electric Group have managed to turn the catastrophe of the fire into a positive with an audio system that sounds exceptional and will serve them for many years to come.”