The Lyric crafts all its own shows and co-productions (photo: Mark Senior)

UK - The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre is one of the country’s leading producing houses, based in the inner-city neighbourhood of Hammersmith, West London. The Lyric recently invested in a comprehensive audio upgrade, based entirely on EM Acoustics’ product portfolio. The upgrade, completed in early 2024, was led by the theatre’s Head of Sound, Daniel Ronayne.  

“Our existing system was due for an upgrade; it was around 30 years old and composed of many different products from different brands,” reflects Ronayne. “We had hired a demo rig from EM Acoustics for past productions, such as our yearly panto, and we were blown away by the quality and wanted to make these products a permanent feature of the theatre and the audience experience.”  

A complete upgrade is a serious decision for a busy theatre but following a trial period, the decision to go ‘all-in’ on EM Acoustics was an easy one. “By having the system on a six-week run of our panto all the key decision-makers at the Lyric had the opportunity to hear the difference for themselves and it was clear that these loudspeakers are in a class of their own,” explains Ronayne. “We all agreed on the full upgrade with EM Acoustics.”  

Originally built in the late 19th century, the theatre was later demolished and relocated, piece by piece, to its current location on King Street. The auditorium retains its traditional appearance, and whilst a powerful system with plenty of headroom was required, it was also important that the loudspeakers blend into the space as much as possible.  

“The in-house team and I were responsible for system design and installation of the new products,” continues Ronayne. “We worked closely with EM Acoustics’ Greg Clarke, who made recommendations on how to get the best out of the system.”

The new PA is designed around EM Acoustics’ flagship Reference Series. Six R10s and two R8s make up the main FOH system, rigged on the proscenium in a stalls left-right, circle left-right and upper circle left-right configuration, with the addition of a centre cluster for enhanced coverage. Low frequencies are handled by four S-215 subwoofers.

Complimenting the Reference series, a total of six EMS-61s are deployed under the balcony for stalls delay and in the circle for fill, given the challenges of configuring a delay in this area of the Lyric. Finally, four EMS-51Xs provide front fill and another four provide delay to the upper circle, whilst six pre-existing EMS-61s are arranged in pairs on each level for surround sound. Only three eight-channel EM Acoustics Di20D amplifiers are required to drive all loudspeakers.

“Being able to run it all off of just three amplifiers is definitely a benefit,” remarks Ronayne. “It’s easy to deal with technically and easy to teach others how to work it too. Plus, we’re using a lot less rack space.”  

Alongside efficiency improvements, the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre team have also found an added sense of confidence thanks to their new audio system. “There’s not much tinkering or thinking you need to do when you’re using EM Acoustics,” continues Ronayne. “It just sounds great, with very little to no EQ, which is one of the best compliments I can give.”

As a producing house, the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre crafts all its own shows and co-productions. The new system is already being put to the test on a wide range of material, from quiet plays to loud movie-like performances. “No matter what comes out of the loudspeakers, it sounds sweet,” confirms Ronayne. “It is also highly scalable. For example, our production of Minority Report required really impactful sound reinforcement, so we added 10 R10s and a pair of S-15 subs to the stage with three DQ20 amps, which has been seamless as the whole EM Acoustics portfolio has this great unified sound.

“EM Acoustics have been really supportive of us, and the upgrade has further enhanced our ongoing relationship,” concludes Ronayne. “It’s great to know everything you’re hearing in the theatre is EM Acoustics and all of it sounds incredible.”

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