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Paging System Upgrade At Sadler's Wells

With a history going back more than three hundred years and an annual audience of over half a million people, the world-famous Sadler’s Wells is synonymous with dance in all its many guises. From cutting-edge contemporary productions to flamenco, hip hop, South Asian dance and everything in between, more new dance works are commissioned and presented here than anywhere else in the world. Its place in the history of dance is assured, with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Opera all having been founded at Sadler’s Wells.

Their current home in Islington, north London, is the sixth theatre to have borne the company’s name since it was established in 1683 and opened in 1998. It houses two venues, the 1500-seat main auditorium and the Lilian Baylis Studio, which seats 180. As with all theatres, both rely heavily on paging systems for every show.

Autograph Sales & Installations were recently asked to design and install an upgrade to the existing paging equipment, which was fitted when the theatre was built. Paging systems are completely individual to each building, and part of the specification for Sadler’s Wells was that the existing loudspeaker locations should be retained along with much of the cabling, with the intention that the whole system would be eventually replaced, but in two phases.

Autograph’s Adam Broom subsequently created a bespoke design for phase one, working closely with their Head of Lighting & Sound, Graham Cutting. A QSC Q-Sys Core 110f processor was specified as the central DSP ‘brain’, controlling a CXD4.3Q quad-channel amplifier (working in high-impedance mode), which drives numerous small loudspeakers at various locations throughout front of house and backstage in both venues. A Kiss Box 103CC provides additional GPO switching, which is controlled via Ethernet UDP/IP data packets sent from the Q-Sys processor.

For some years Autograph have supplied their own exclusive designs of paging microphone stations and at Sadler’s Wells they provided two each of both the two and four-button designs. They additionally supplied two wall-mount paging stations designed exclusively for the theatre, fitted with Clock Audio C32E-RF gooseneck microphones, as well as some custom metalwork to modify their existing facility panels. The paging microphone stations can be patched into the system at various points in the building as needed.

Adam commented, ‘It was made clear from the start that the new system had to be expandable - currently it’s a dual two-zone system (i.e. front of house and backstage in each venue) but this may change in future. The Q-Sys controller has plenty of extra DSP power and we could for example add control touchscreens and remote i/o frames if the theatre needed them later. With the simple connectivity of the controller and QSC amplifiers we can also add more loudspeakers and / or paging zones without any difficulty.’

Graham Cutting said: “We were looking for an efficient, bespoke way to upgrade our paging equipment. Autograph worked with us to understand our specific requirements and create a tailored solution that provides us with exactly what we need.”

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