Church overhaul creates cultural centre

Liverpool based AV specialist, Adlib has helped overhaul AV solutions at a restored 18th century Grade II-listed church in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. The building has been converted into Soar, a multicultural arts, community, educational and Welsh language centre.

The church restoration was finally started after a six-year bid to secure development grants. The building had fallen into disrepair before a £1.4m (€1.6m) project transformed it into a multicultural arts, community, educational and Welsh language centre. The building incorporates a 250-seat amphitheatre equipped with a Harman Pro sound system, supplied by UK and Irealand distributors, Sound Technology, and installed by Adlib.

Lis McLean, chief officer at Soar Project, secured 13 grants including £527,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £300,000 from Heads of the Valleys funding programme. Further contributions came form the centre’s own Welsh language bookshop, based in the adjacent vestry opposite.

Tom Williams, a Harman Pro engineer, took EASE measurements of the amphitheatre. Several different options were considered to handle the wide dispersion and the technical team decided on a JBL VRX solution.

A wide range of performances - including male voice choirs, musicals and community drama – take place in the theatre.

In addition to the audio solution, Adlib equipped the building with conventional lighting bars, dimmer racks, LED effects and video projection.

JBL’s VRX system was installed in two phases. Initially hangs of two VRX932LA enclosures and a single VRX918S 18” sub were flown each side in a left and right configuration. The main hangs were later bolstered by third flown VRX932LA per side, while a centre cluster of two VRX932LA speakers were added during second phase installation works. Along with the flown additions, two pairs of ground-stacked SRX718S subs and six SRX712M 12” speakers were introduced.

A Soundcraft Vi1 digital desk was installed in the theatre’s front-of-house position.

A BSS Soundweb London BLU-160 DSP was provided for digital audio networking. It is configured 8in/8-out, with a Blu3 wall-mount remote offering local control, and the system is powered by five Crown MA5000i amplifiers (2 x 2500W/4 ohms), with an Xti4000 (2 x 1200W/4 ohms) handling monitors.

Adlib introduced a custom switch panel in the amplifier rack to control audio signal flow within the Soundweb devices. The configuration uses the Logic features within London Architect software to introduce additional auxiliary feeds from the Vi1 console through to each zone of the FOH loudspeaker system.

Soundweb also has the capacity to introduce sources from other areas of the complex on the audio network in the future. In addition to the theatre, the original chapel now houses a dance studio and an exhibition space.

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