Islington’s Grade II-listed Assembly Hall has committed to an investment in its technical infrastructure, including the first UK installation of HARMAN’s brand new JBL VTX A8 line array system at front of house.
The Council-owned building, part of Islington Town Hall complex, has seen many artists play there in the past including Ed Sheeran, Rag’n’Bone Man and Snow Patrol.
The venue first opened back in 1929 before closing in the mid-1980s. After laying dormant for around 30 years, Islington Council funded its refurbishment, and in 2010 it appeared back on the touring map. Following a competitive tender, the Islington Assembly Hall team chose JBL’s new VTX A-Series, specifically A8 and B18 elements.
The installation was undertaken by SSE Audio Group, who were able to use the existing infrastructure and take advantage of the advanced JBL rigging, hoisting and aligning the system expediently. L/R hangs of six VTX A8 elements are flown per side, adding a further two as lip fills on the stage. Low frequency extension is provided by six B18 single 18” subs, with the entire system powered by four Crown I-Tech 4x3500HD four-channel amplifiers, while the venue has also added a Soundcraft Vi3000.
“I knew the A8 was a 3-way system and it seemed to cover the midrange better, but the HF detail is also incredible,” said technical manager Tom Watt. “With this PA you notice reflections far less and it worked straight out of the box, with flat EQ. With the 110° degree dispersion, we were able to dispense with the old centre cluster we had before, as the Left / Right stereo imaging is amazing.”
Ed Jackson, Harman Pro tour sound application engineer, ensured the system was optimised, carrying out EASE room predictions and using Harman’s proprietary Line Array Calculator (LAC) – lowering the PA to hit both the narrow balcony and the back of the room. “My prime concerns were that we had coverage to the back of the room, which was noticeably lacking in the old PA, and achieve uniform balcony coverage,” explained Jackson. “If it hadn’t worked with the shorter array we would probably have walked away.
“In terms of sound quality from the transducers this series has got the physical parts of the cabinets right to the point where we are not so reliant on DSP. The system sounds good as soon as you turn it on.”