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Inside the O2 Institute

I recently worked the O2 Institute in Birmingham, England.

A Tale of Two P.A.s (In the Same Room): I recently worked the O2 Institute in Birmingham, England. Originally constructed in the early 1900s as a Methodist congregational chapel, the building was bought by the city of Birmingham in 1955 and used as a civic hall. It later became a live performance venue and has since become an essential part of Birmingham’s music community.

The room is squarish in shape, with the stage in the center at one end and the mix position underneath the three-sided, U-shaped balcony at the opposite end. Capacity of the venue is around 1,500. The balcony is rather low, with a floor-to-ceiling height around nine feet. It slopes upward, conforming to the rake of the balcony seating. As a result, the arrangement of the P.A. is rather unconventional.

A ground-stacked system covers the main floor, consisting of six Turbosound Aspect TA880H mid-high enclosures (three per side), eight Turbosound TSW218 subwoofers (four per side), and two d&b Audiotechnik E9s for front fill. A second P.A. system consisting of ten Turbosound TFA600H Flex Array cabinets is flown five per side. The TFA600Hs are arrayed so that a minimum of direct sound reaches the patrons on the floor. This—coupled with the wide horizontal by narrow vertical coverage of the ground P.A.—almost creates separate zones within the room. You can hear the ground P.A. when you’re in the balcony, and you can hear the flown P.A. from the floor, though not nearly as much as you might expect.

Tuning the flown system proved the biggest challenge, as it required running upstairs, listening, coming back down, adjusting the array EQ, then running back up to hear the results. Where’s that iPad for system control??!! Meanwhile, the downstairs system was rocking away, with little to no need for EQ at soundcheck.

All in all, the two concurrent systems worked out surprisingly well. Now if we could only reduce the room’s natural reverb time….

Product of the Month: Nemesis CCS2 Computer Control Switch: Here’s a great idea that’s long overdue: The CCS2 from Nemesis is a rackmount device that allows two computer systems to share a keyboard, mouse, monitor and distribution of GPI data and MIDI messages for control over both systems simultaneously.

Designed specifically for theater and live entertainment, where track playback from a computer-based DAW is integral to a production, the CCS2 offers Dante, MADI and ADAT switchers that can work in sync with the CCS2 to seamlessly switch between redundant audio sources. Rear-panel connections include USB A- and B-type, dual video input, and video output per CPU, four configurable MIDI ports, four GPIO programmable relays, 11 GPI inputs on D-sub and XLR jacks, and a connection for dual-redundant power supplies with input ranging from 115 to 230V.