Stage Electrics has implemented a new sound system for the Grand Theatre Wolverhampton, a project that began in 2017.
Opened in 1894, the Grand Theatre represents one of the city’s remaining examples of Victorian architecture. Next year, the venue will celebrate its 125th anniversary and whilst much of its original façade remains intact, its technical infrastructure has undergone significant upgrades.
Stage Electrics has provided the theatre with a K-array KY102 PA and Digico’s latest SD12 digital mixing console.
“Our system was 20 years old and really needed replacing,” Anthony Aston, the theatre’s head of Lighting and Sound, recalled. “We had a budget in mind; what could we get straight out of the box that would fit our requirements?”
Stage Electrics’ audio specialist, Jamie Gosney, commented: “The theatre hosts a wide variety of shows, so they wanted a system that could cope with all their requirements, but that would also be able to stay in place when a touring company brought in its own system.”
Stage Electrics had experienced great success at Bristol Hippodrome, Kings Theatre Glasgow, Edinburgh Playhouse and the Royal Opera House with K-array systems, so Gosney introduced the Italian manufacturer to the Wolverhampton team.
“They hadn’t heard of K-array before and asked if there was anywhere they could hear it, so I sent them to Bristol Hippodrome to listen to its KP102 system,” Gosney continued. “They loved the sound, but weren’t sure if it was powerful enough to cope with everything they needed, so I suggested we demo a slightly larger system, the KY102, which has 12 four-inch drivers, as opposed to the 12 three-inch drivers in the KP102 at Bristol.”
Gosney arranged for K-array’s UK distributor, 2BHeard, to take a demo system to Wolverhampton, also suggesting they consider a Digico SD12 for their front-of-house mix position.
“When we were discussing their console requirements, I asked them what most touring productions brought with them to the theatre,” said Gosney. ”They said Digico, so I arranged for them to visit Digico HQ in Surrey.
“They absolutely loved the K-array and were convinced by the SD12, so we arranged another demo for as close to a full system as we could get. After that, they knew K-array and Digico were the right choices.”
“We installed the entire system ourselves,” said Aston. “We have quite a lot of in-house patching, so wherever we were going to put a speaker there was a patch there, which meant we had to install the amp rack. With Jamie’s help, we drew a schematic.”
The theatre also has a QSC Q-SYS system, supplied by Stage Electrics, as they wanted to get away from physical patching to different areas.
The final system comprises two KY102 columns per side to cover the stalls, with a KP52 either side for side fill and six KP52 mounted horizontally across the front of the stage as front fill, whilst two KMR218P double 18-inch sub bass per side provide the low frequency for the system.
For the Dress Circle, there are two KY102 per side, with a KP52 per side for side fill. The Grand Circle has the same configuration as the Dress Circle, with the addition of a KMT18P sub per side.
The theatre already had under balcony delays speakers installed, but they do not need to be used with the K-array system, as the narrow vertical dispersion of the KY102 (seven degrees) is able to fire sound directly under the balcony. Amplification is provided by four KA84 four-channel power amplifiers.
The QSC Q-sys Core 510i takes all of the inputs and outputs from the system – AES, XLR, line out – driving the show relay off one part and a Sennheiser MobileConnect assistive listening system, again supplied by Stage Electrics, from another part.
“We’ve finished up with a system that is better than the one we originally specified,” Aston concluded. “The combination of K-array and Digico sounds stunning. We’ve taken advantage of every feature that’s there and we’ve turned it into something that we love using every day. In fact, everyone that’s used it has been pleasantly surprised. It works really well, not only in terms of dynamics but visually, as there’s a lot less furniture. It’s the best system for this venue and it looks beautiful. Big things do come in small packages.”