Explaining in more detail, Graham Orchard says, “The group of two TT 10 hangs cover the boxes on either side each of which hold eight seats. The other four, flown off the PA, are aimed at balcony level 2 and level 3.”
But while the operators wrestled with the inherent problems of raked and curved contouring—and the consequent building of new flat platforms for the FOH control position—it was the deployment of the subwoofers that was causing the greatest amount of consternation for Magee and Orchard. Initially they placed three SUB 9006-AS per side in cardioid configuration and that was later increased to four. However, the cardioid was subsequently removed because of the contours of the hall—and an agreement by the two men that it sounded better without.
“The rejection we were getting from the cardioid wasn’t that significant,” Graham Orchard admits. “Ideally, we would have the subs under the stage in a linear pattern; but that was impossible, since the stage is on a lift, and so the subs have to be ground stacked. They also have to be set wide off the stage, because of sightline issues.”
As a precaution, Sage Gateshead has added two further SUB 9006-AS more as utilities, for while they can be used to bolster the existing artillery as necessary in the main auditorium they can also transport on dollies to another space and be used with the house HDL6’s.
Control of course is equally vital and with the move to HDL 30-A Andy Magee has now integrated RDNet and the RCF software to give greater capabilities. While the system itself was tuned and time aligned using RDNet, the control tablet gives engineers access to trim and adjust the EQ of all zones via the custom BSS Soundweb platform.
Vitally, through the control panel there are now various settings for stage reduction, standard stage extension and full stage extension (affecting delays) mainly enabled through RDNet.
But as big an achievement as this elegant integration is, the need for the HDL 30-A to be compatible with classical concert hall requirements, was paramount—particularly since Sage Gateshead is home to its orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia. Hence, the venue worked with RCF to create a custom preset in RDNet that optimised the performance, ensuring the venue’s low existing noise floor wasn’t exceeded in any way.
The final pieces in the jigsaw were budget compliance and visual continuity. “Having something that didn’t completely change the visual representation of the boxes in the hall was a key factor. [Sage One] is a shoebox configuration so with the footprint hanging in the air and on the stage, simply switching from HDL 20-A to HDL 30-A was a great benefit.” And in addition to the visual continuity, it made little difference in terms of processing.