The final phase of the restoration of Reading Town Hall’s concert venue - with the renovated Father Willis organ providing a magisterial backdrop - has been completed this month under the guidance of English Heritage.

Marquee Audio was responsible for supplying and fitting all the audio, working to a specification from audio consultant Peter Mapp, who had been introduced to the project by former technical manager, Paul Kennedy. By completion, the whole project will have cost around £5 million. Given the constraints of the protected architecture the installation had been no easy feat, as the venue’s chief electrician Tim Liddle emphasized. "We got a grant from English Heritage who wanted the hall restored to its original 120-year-old grandeur. The Borough Council have been restoring the building over a 15-year period and when I came here 10 years ago, there were pigeons living in the concert hall."

Sound is based around a d&b system of four C I-6s and a pair of CI-7 tops, reinforced by a left/right C7 ground-stacked system and powered by d&b E-PACs. This fulfils the venue’s multi-purpose requirement for staging conference work, as well as drama, comedy and concerts. Visiting productions can bring a mono or stereo multicore feed and plug straight into the BSS 9088 Soundweb, through which the whole system is digitally controlled. d&b E3s provide the musicians’ stage fills and Martin Audio LE400Cs the floor wedge foldback, with amplification from QSC PLX 1602s.

Up on the balcony, a 32U effects processing rack is resident at the FOH mixing position alongside a Soundcraft Pro K3 32/8/2 theatre desk. The rack includes Klark Teknik DN360 graphics and DN4000 parametric, BSS DPR-402 dual comp/limiter, a pair of Drawmer DS404 noise gates, Yamaha SPX990 digital multi-effects and Sabine FBX2020PLUS feedback exterminator.

The component parts of the PA (left, right, centre, cluster, etc) are assigned to the Soundweb inputs along with a sub mono aux and two stereo auxes (for visiting PA companies to plug into). Also in the stage manager’s location is the 9010 Soundweb ‘Jellyfish’ remote panel, which allows switching to a number of sources, as well as offering different levels of compression, zone volume control, voice evacuation mic and so on. As chief electrician Tim Liddle pointed out, this is a difficult venue to work - and with only six fixing points, a temporary lighting grid had to be suspended for the DMX-controlled moving lights, scrollers and generics. These fixtures included Martin Professional’s MAC 500 and 600 moving heads, supplied by Stage Electrics. Lighting control is from a Strand 520i desk.

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