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The Barbican And Autograph - Essential Equipment Upgrades...

In 2015 Autograph completed a major project to install a state of the art fibre-optic data transmission system throughout the building as well as supplying new DiGiCo digital mixing consoles (read the full story HERE). The latest collaboration involves a significant re-fit to the installed Meyer Sound loudspeaker system in the main hall (also supplied by Autograph) plus delivery of a comprehensive microphone package and a new communications system.

The custom-coloured Meyer Sound Milo system in the 1943-seat Barbican Hall was originally supplied with Meyer’s 700-HP subwoofers but time and technology moves on and, while the Milo line-array system is just as good as ever it was, the performance improvement offered by Meyer’s latest subwoofer, the 900-LFC, is significant enough to warrant an upgrade. These very compact, self-powered single 18” modules have been a big hit with touring sound professionals right from launch, as they punch far above their relatively modest dimensions. You can find out more about the 900-LFC HERE.

Mark Bloxsidge, the Barbican’s Technical Manager, commented, “The 900-LFCs are remarkable - for something with such a small footprint and which is so easy to handle, the power delivery and coverage is astonishing. Having eight allows us to use them in variety of configurations and locations depending on the production, which is ideal given the diversity of performers that appear here.”

The Centre have also invested in a major microphone package including many of the leading brands in that discipline: numerous Sennheiser e-series, plus their classic MD421 and MKE2s - Shure SM-series plus accessories - Beyerdynamic M88TGs - DPA V010-Plus Classic 4099/2011C kit (12 mics plus a complete set of accessories), SC4098-BX30 podium mics and 4011A condenser - an Audio Technica AE2500 and U857Q - Countryman H6 terminated to Shure TAF4 - an Audix D6 - an EV RE20 - AKG C414 XLS - Neumann KM184 MT and a Schoeps CMC-64 stereo set, along with Beyerdynamic DT150 headphones…

The latest purchase also included a complete Clear-Com FreeSpeak II comms system, comprising a FreeSpeak II-Base-II base station, ten FreeSpeak II belt packs, ten CC-300 single-sided headsets, five antennae units and two antenna splitters. The worldwide license-free frequencies used by the FreeSpeak II (1.897-1.933GHz and 2.4GHz respectively) plus Clear-Com’s build quality and ease of operation make it a simple and reliable solution for multi-channel digital wireless comms in a venue such as the Barbican.

Mark Bloxsidge again: “The Freespeak II system has been a big hit with our techs and stage crew, with greatly improved coverage and speech quality compared to our old UHF wireless comms. The headsets are comfortable to wear and the reversible mic boom with mute at the vertical position is an excellent design.”

Sound Supervisor Tom Shipman added, “The decision to upgrade the wireless comms was mainly driven by a level of expectation from our customers. Careful consideration was given to choosing a system that could seamlessly integrate into our existing hardwired comms and provide extended coverage. 2.4GHz is reasonably crowded within the Barbican Centre, so the decision was made to use the FreeSpeak II 1.9GHz system. The install was very easy indeed, and the Site Survey feature proved extremely useful in realising the most efficient antenna positions; we found the coverage from one antenna to be astonishing especially considering the Barbican is built with reinforced concrete. We are using two antennas in the hall and two backstage, and adding extra antennas is a simply a case of patching CAT5 and off you go.”

“The webpage based configuration of the base station makes quick work of the set-up, and I’m a real fan of the ability to update settings OTA to the beltpacks. The installation is so straightforward, and the vast improvement this has made to our working life has made this the ideal project.”

Autograph’s Ben Tredwell looked after the Barbican’s needs on this occasion and he commented, “We have worked closely with the Barbican’s technical team for years and quite apart from the Meyer-focused aspect of our relationship, we’re very happy to provide a ‘one stop shop’ service for them, supplying all their audio equipment needs from our own sales portfolio.”

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