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CLS Aberdeen Provides G1 Group with Infinite Flexibility

A historic venue awaited the first European installation of JBL’s new Subcompact VerTec line array, which has been deployed to meet the flexible requirements of a converted Grade 1-listed 19th century church in Edinburgh, for new owners, the G1 Group.

Charlie Flett, Director of Aberdeen based company CLS, first saw the new VT4886 three-way passive high directivity line array element and VT4883 cardioid-arrayable subwoofer at the PLASA Show in London back in September - and knew immediately that its performance and compact footprint would provide a perfect solution for the building’s spectacular 650-capacity first floor auditorium - converted by G1 Group into the multifunctional Ghillie Dhu.

CLS have an association the ever expanding G1 leisure group stretching back 15 years, and Charlie Flett himself is able to bring a quarter of a century’s experience, developing originally from a sound system supplier to nightclubs, bars and discos to becoming a full-fledged AV integrator in the corporate and industrial world.

As a qualified electrical and TD engineer he has also run major JBL rental systems over the years - and experience has taught him never to specify a brand until it has proved itself.

He and G1 Group’s Stevie Doyle, Manager of the Sound and Lighting departments at the G1 Group, weighed up their options, reviewing various other compact arrays. The latter admits that the requirement of the system was such that in addition to having a compact form factor, the two flown top boxes (and single sub) each side of the stage should also be able to swing back on a custom flying frames (with swivel mechanism) so that the stage curtains could screen off the stage entirely when not required.

“I’d been looking for a small array speaker like this for years,” Stevie admits. And Charlie adds that when he saw the system on the stand of UK distributors, Sound Technology Ltd at PLASA they were the first production models in Europe. After long discussions with the design team from JBL in America, which gave a better understanding of the target performance of the system and the internal components, we decided to present these boxes to G1 as the solution to the various challenges of this venue.” Both were impressed with the initial performance of the system, straight out of the box.

In particular the two men were impressed with this legacy system’s directivity, with its integrated Mid/High waveguide providing precise vertical wave front control and optimised 110° horizontal dispersion. “The control and directivity are tip-top,” said Stevie. “And because the VerTec Subcompact system is so controllable there are no lumps of sound floating around. This is a powerful, compact answer to how to use sound in conjunction with tight design criteria where big boxes won’t work.”

Entertainment at Ghillie Dhu ranges from ceilidhs, DJ’s and live events, to corporate banquets, conferences (with full AV and Wi-Fi), weddings and live sports coverage, when the customized 12 ft electric screen rises up in front of the huge ornamental mirror which acts as a backdrop to the stage area

G1 Group spent between £4m and £5m converting the original 19th century St. Thomas Episcopal Church, which had operated as a casino before falling into disrepair.

By pulling down the dilapidated suspended ceilings and exposing the original architectural features of the vaulted ceiling, G1 Group have given themselves a classic and traditional flagship site in the capital. The redoubtable Jim Hamilton (from Graven Images) was introduced to deliver a loving restoration, using reclaimed oak flooring under the impressive vaulted ceiling (relocating the old pipe organ to the rear of the first floor room). But the technology needed to work hard to earn its place in the budget and design, and be able to handle a daily duty cycle of 8am-3am operation.

Downstairs in the 350-capacity main bar/restaurant, 16 durable JBL Control 25s on 100V line are distributed to the three separate zones. “You see these constantly working in shopping malls, restaurants and so on - they are very versatile and with mounting hardware that allows us to design around them in almost any situation,” says Charlie Flett. “They are small, easy to use, high-impact boxes - and the orange JBL badge on the front is a great sales point, it gives the customers peace of mind as its such a familiar sight in so many market areas.”

Having also worked with Crown amplification down the years, the path led CLS deeper into the Harman Pro portfolio - in particular to BSS Audio.

The Ghillie Dhu project gave CLS the opportunity to introduce an upgrade from the Soundweb Original (SW9088ii) devices to the flexibility of the new-generation, reconfigurable, IP-addressable Soundweb London BLU.

Four networked BLU-160’s form the digital backbone, with local control through a BLU-10 programmable remote at the stage (programmed in House and Stage system modes) and a couple of local BLU-5’s offering further control in the ancillary areas. Feeds come from HD computers, various line devices, DJ and AKG stage mics.

These facilities enable Stevie to access straight into the systems from G1's control network to change gain structures and system presets in real time - essential given the wide range of events and sudden changes required. This includes access to the background system in the main area, where a pair of JBLs new CBT70 subwoofers add warmth and body to the system

Soundweb is also needed to provide instant access to the venue in case of issues with excessive noise, as this is a noise sensitive area (with the Rutland Hotel situated immediately behind). An initial acoustic study confirmed the problems with the venue, and a large amount of remedial work was also carried out with the help of CLS to ensure there were no operational issues from the very start.

Summing up, Charlie Flett says, “The key criteria were that the system had to be simple to operate, remotely reconfigurable (without local operator or engineer intervention) - almost invisible, and have and the ability to network. The fact that via Soundweb we can control it from a central point, by dialing in and reconfiguring on the fly, is important.”

“Everything had to fit within the classic design image and give the flexibility of a multipurpose room - and the whole concept behind new JBL system has proven to be just what was needed. Its been great to see the ‘orange badge’ come back with such a strong product.”





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