The Royal Albert Hall has completed the biggest improvement to sound in its auditorium since the installation of the iconic acoustic ‘mushrooms’ in 1969, 50 years ago.
Costing over £2 million, the project took 693 days of labour, using 15,291m of cable and 465 individual speakers for what is said to be the world’s largest loudspeaker install in a single room. The project drew on the most detailed acoustic surveys and modelling ever undertaken in the Hall, as well as hundreds of loudspeakers from d&b audiotechnik.
As a Grade I listed building, the new d&b sound system proposal required special building consent and had to work within the fabric of the famous Victorian venue. None of the 327 shows that took place during the installation period were stopped or affected, thanks to an overnight engineering work schedule carried out by installation company SFL.
“Kylie Minogue, Take That, Frank Sinatra… these are just some of the incredible artists who have played the Hall, and like them, the Hall constantly has to challenge perceptions and reinvent itself for modern audiences,” said Craig Hassall, chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall. “This investment is about more than just updating the sound-system, it’s about future-proofing the building as we approach our 150th anniversary in 2021, so that it is fit for another 150 years.”
Steve Jones of d&b audiotechnik commented: “The Royal Albert Hall presents a sound system design with some of the most unique geometry in the world – it was essential that the final audio system design delivered a significant improvement to the amplified sound in this venue.
“Using the latest 3D modelling and simulation techniques from leading acousticians Sandy Brown, we were able to pinpoint exactly how, where and what speakers we needed to install, maximising the clarity, intelligibility and musicality that the audience expect from a world class venue,” Jones added. “Audiences can now expect a level of audio quality and consistency across all seats which was never before been achievable.”
The new system features the first-ever circle, gallery and box speakers, bringing the sound closer to all seats, radically improving levels, tone, and clarity for every seat in the house.
- 28 weeks/6 months of overnight installation works, during which the RAH hosted 327 individual events without impact from the installation.
- 693 days of installation labour.
- 15,291m of cable, including:
- 54km of individual loudspeaker cable cores.
- 14,640m of individual fibre cores.
- 3,900m of Cat6.
- Estimated total cable mass of circa. 4 metric tonnes.
- 517 d&b loudspeakers purchased
- 465 permanently installed loudspeakers, including:
- 3x main arrays
- 1x flown sub array
- 1x floor sub system
- 2x out fill arrays
- 2x choir fill arrays
- 7x circle delay arrays
- 23x gallery fills
- Front and rear speakers in all 144 boxes
- 52 loose speakers for monitoring and fills
- 73 installed 4 channel amplifiers
- 211 microphones
- 38x Shure
- 42x Neumann
- 110x DPA
- 21x Other
- 120 Microphone stands
Both fibre optic and CAT6a networks installed
- 4 wireless networks running for audio