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INSTITUTION OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS

One of the fastest growing professional engineering institutions in the world – See how Insight Visual helped them with installing a new system that could overcome the acoustic challenges presented by this highly reverberant space as well as offer improved provision for recording and outside broadcast.

Number One Birdcage Walk is regarded as one of the finest examples of traditional architecture in Westminster and has been home to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers since it was purpose-built in 1899.

One of the fastest growing professional engineering institutions in the world, it has over 111,000 members in more than 140 countries and works closely with leading companies, universities and think-tanks to create and share knowledge and guidance with industry, government and the public, in every aspect of mechanical engineering. Every year, as well as organising a comprehensive series of events for engineers, including technical conferences, seminars, workshops and social functions, the Institution also hires out its sixteen flexible spaces for a wide range of occasions. Located in picturesque surrounds, Number One is a magnet for corporate conferencing, training sessions, receptions and dinners.

The demands placed on such an intensively used facility in terms of its AV and conferencing infrastructure are great. The Institution places a high value of the quality of its offering to members and hirers and this commitment was reflected in a recent upgrading of audio provision in the venue’s main lecture theatre.

As is true of many such buildings, whilst its high domed ceilings and wood panelled walls offer a beautiful visual aesthetic, they often conspire to have a negative effect on acoustics and the main lecture theatre at Number One was no exception. In such circumstances, the selection of sound reinforcement is critical. The venue is used for a wide variety of presentations, lectures and Q and A sessions, some of which are recorded or might be the subject of live outside broadcasts. With this in mind, The Institution was concerned that its existing sound reinforcement provision was no longer performing to standard. Integrators Insight Visual Systems were charged with installing a new system that could overcome the acoustic challenges presented by this highly reverberant space as well as offer improved provision for recording and outside broadcast. The Institution wished to add to its existing wireless microphone system to allow greater flexibility and participation in the hall.

The solution

A combination of Biamp Nexia SP and a Mackie 3204-VLZ4 mixer completed the picture, facilitating a complete range of audio inputs from wired and wireless microphones, DVD player, hard disc recorder for playback etc, as well as allowing audio feeds to be routed for outside broadcast and recording.

Insight in conjunction with in-house AV technician, Pete Coleman, consulted with POLARaudio, who recommended the installation of Renkus Heinz Iconyx Series speakers. Previous experience in similarly challenging environments had led POLARaudio Head of Installation, Stuart Leader, towards a very positive view of these digitally steerable line-array loudspeakers and 2 x Iconyx IC-16 R-II were duly installed. Controlled via software to create beams of audio that can be focussed on the audience and away from hard, reflective surfaces, the Iconyx speakers minimize reverberance and deliver intelligible sound exactly where it is required. Another compelling feature of this market leading brand is its slim, low-profile design. In this instance, as has often been the case, the Iconyx speakers blended discreetly with their surroundings, making them a perfect sonic and aesthetic fit for heritage sites such as Number One Birdcage Walk. To offer additional sound reinforcement for occasional music playback, 2 x Cornered Audio C12PNC sub-woofers, powered by MC2 T1000 amplifier, were located behind grilles on either side of the stage.

The Institute were already in possession of a beyerdynamic Opus 900 wireless microphone system and chose to expand its scope by adding further wireless clip-on and hand-held microphones to allow full flexibility of movement for more users both onstage and around the hall.

A combination of Biamp Nexia SP and a Mackie 3204-VLZ4 mixer completed the picture, facilitating a complete range of audio inputs from wired and wireless microphones, DVD player, hard disc recorder for playback etc, as well as allowing audio feeds to be routed for outside broadcast and recording.

Stuart Leader,
Installation Manager at POLARaudio:

“We’ve now been closely involved with a number of projects centred on the Renkus Heinz Iconyx range. In each case the speakers have been responsible for radically improving audio provision in some extremely challenging spaces. Very recently, we were delighted that POLARaudio and Renkus Heinz were shortlisted in the Team of the Year category at the PSN Europe Awards 2015 for our joint venture at Reading University’s Great Hall. Just as with this project at Birdcage Walk, Iconyx speakers on that occasion overcame some very difficult acoustic conditions to the great satisfaction of the client.”

Insight Visual Systems Business Development Manager Steve McNally

“The existing audio system was operating at its limits. Its speakers, as well as not being up to the challenge of the room, could only be controlled from a balcony at the rear of the hall, making meaningful adjustments virtually impossible. Recent refurbishments had added to the problem and the time had come to seek a dramatic improvement. POLARaudio’s experts came in and advised on what would work best to deliver optimal performance – specifying speaker sizes and areas of coverage and assisting with programming. I’d had experience of installing Iconyx speakers during a previous project in a similar environment and found them to be excellent. The Biamp Nexia SP allows the overall system to be equalised for the room, meaning that changes to individual channel levels can be made at the mixing console without producing feedback or ring. Outside broadcast and recording are also made very straightforward. The system has met with high praise from the client, noting a level of clarity and facility that far exceeded their expectations.”

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