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Martin Audio WPS installed at Cardiff Students’ Union Great Hall

The multi-use requirement of Cardiff Students’ Union’s Great Hall presented SWG Events with several challenges when designing and installing a frontline PA. The venue is a multipurpose space with a capacity of 1500 and a variety of needs. Firstly, the PA system needed to meet the approval of incoming circuit bands and productions, and at the same time be adaptable to a wide range of events.


Since live music events are hosted in more than one space within the building, the PA needed to be demountable and reappropriated together in various locations. SWG successfully met the challenges presented to them, their pitch based around Martin Audio’s Wavefront Precision WPS line array.


“This year the Great Hall enters into its fiftieth year of operation, as one of the oldest music venues in the Capital City,” says Callam Thom, Head of Venues. “It is therefore crucial that we keep up with the demands of modern-day touring and the expectations of our audiences.”


The Great Hall has recently seen significant development to the two accessible viewing balconies, increasing the spaces available for those with additional viewing needs. The development provided an upper-level bar, toilets and viewing platforms - spaces that also had to be catered for with the sound system. SWG Head of Audio, Simon Purse, sensed these challenges when confronted with a building that was “basically a big concrete square, with low balcony at the end, and the FOH position situated just under the bulkhead.”


SWG based their design for the conventional pros arch system around six elements per side of WPS, driven in 2-box resolution from Martin Audio’s iK42 amplifiers. Eight SX218 subwoofers are placed in a broadside array, while also at the stage, four Blackline X8 fill gaps in the nearfield with two Torus T1230 delivering out fill sound.


Given the low balcony overhang, a ring of four CDD8 provides under balcony delay and a further four CDD8 above the accessible viewing left and right-side balconies themselves, DSP for which is provided by a dedicated DX4.0 controller; this also brings the fills into the VU-Net control network.


“While there are elements that are fixed, a lot of it is like a conventional flown touring system”, says Purse. “Exams one day might be followed by a rock show, so it can be derigged and taken down or change shape, depending on the requirements of the venue. Even the stage is removable, making probably the most diverse room I’ve ever been in.”


Martin Audio Product Support Engineer Robin Dibble assisted with tuning and time alignment which, being a reverberant concrete venue, was essential - despite the presence of drapes and acoustic treatment. Presets are programmed and stored, depending on the different scenarios.


Purse explains, “There is a snapshot for when the system is in its default live show mode, with all the time alignment EQ and settings loaded in that. For other events such as when a DJ is placed in the centre of the room, the PA is moved, new angles applied and given new optimisation. The system then resets back to its default state afterwards.”


Joe Bailey, Account Manager at SWG Events, emphasises that the system has performed well in the first academic year of the contract with over fifty live music events since installation in Autumn 2023, most of which are touring artists. Following commissioning by Robin Dibble, SWG Events provided training to the in-house crew, while they are also providing crew for live music events from a system engineer point of view.


The Wavefront Precision system will also come out during the University’s summer recess to be redeployed on SWG Events’ roster of summer outdoor work, before returning to the Students’ Union for Freshers’ Week and the start of the Autumn term.


(Photos: Martin Audio/SWG Events)




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