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Tannoy And Lab.gruppen Impress At British Music Embassy, SXSW 2015 (Video)

Older venue design and power limitations overcome with modern gear

By PSW Staff April 8, 2015

For the last seven years, Latitude 30 has been home to the British Embassy Stage, part of the SXSW Music Festival in Austin. With more than 100 venues participating in the festival, this one features UK artists supported by systems with components from manufacturers based in the UK. For 2015, the main PA was made up of Tannoy VQ loudspeakers driven by Lab.gruppen amplifiers.

The club is a compact space – capacity of 250 – with a low ceiling and limited power for sound systems. The British Embassy line-up requires a PA that can provide high SPL and fidelity. At the same time sight lines are a concern as is system efficiency.

Colin Studybaker, TC Group tour and install sales, worked with Graham Hendry, vp of AET (Application Engineering & Training) TC Group, to design the VQ-based sound reinforcement system. Studybaker, who has been on site during SXSW for the last couple of years, was familiar with the club and its eccentricities.

“It’s a wonderful space – it’s not big but it gets a great vibe going,” he explains. “It’s key to design a system that can be in your face without tripping breakers. It’s an older building with only so much power available, so knowing how far you can push it is important.”

This year Studybaker utilized TC Group’s new CAFÉ software. CAFÉ (Configuring Amplifiers For the Environment) is a dedicated software application that provides system surveillance and configuration of RPM and other amplifier features such as ISVPL and Breaker Emulation Limiter (BEL).

In addition, CAFÉ – in combination with the RPM configuration – can predict, based on the true SPL and speaker requirements of the individual loads for the given project, estimations of average mains current draw and generated heat in BTU.

“CAFÉ was a life saver in this situation, incredibly beneficial,” adds Studybaker. “I used it to figure out how many amplifiers I need and if the house power could handle it. This allowed us to take the system to the limit without worrying about the power supply – a nice improvement over last year.”

The main PA consisted of two left-right hangs of a single Tannoy VQ 64 (mid/highs) coupled together with a VQ MB (low/mids) to create, in essence, a three-way box. In addition, a VQ 64DF was also attached to each main hang for downfill. Monitoring was provided by five of Tannoy’s new VX 12HP stage wedges recently redesigned with a new driver and front grill.

Restrictive height in the venue required placement of four VSX215HL subwoofers along the front of the stage. Typically putting each sub on the same signal would have resulted in narrowing of the radiation due to the physical length of the bass array causing a power alley in the center of the venue.

However, in this situation, Studybaker and Hendry put each sub cabinet on its own discrete DSP and amp channel allowing the outermost subs on the left and right side to be delayed with the Lake DSP in the PLM+ amplifiers. As a result the radiation pattern was widened – as simulated beforehand in EASE GLL – to cover the entire audience area evenly.

“The VS 215HL provides 3 more dB of output than the subs used last year,” Studybaker continues. “It’s all about getting as much output as possible given the house power restrictions.”

The main PA and subs were driven by two Lab.gruppen PLM20K44 amplifiers. A single PLM12K44 took care of downfill and stage monitors. Three additional PLM12K’s handled the remaining bi-amped VX12HP monitor wedges.

Allen & Heath provided GLD consoles for both front of house and monitors to streamline show production.

“It’s exciting to come back year after year and incrementally change the sound quality of the room,” Studybaker concludes.

TC Group


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