Established in 1892, Reading University in London is ranked among the top 1-percent of universities worldwide. Its Great Hall, located on the University’s original London Road campus, hosts events including graduations, convocations, and other ceremonies. The hall’s 80-foot curved ceiling and highly reflective acoustics have long been problematic, with spoken word intelligibility a challenge throughout most of the room. The building’s protected historic status, however, has long limited options for addressing those issues.
After many years, the University’s Vice-Chancellor consulted with UK audio distributors Polar Audio for recommendations on improving the situation. Integrators Snelling Business Systems were brought in to create an audio system centered around Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digitally steered array loudspeakers. Iconyx technology enables creating tightly focused beams of sound and directing them at the audience and away from walls, ceilings and other highly reflective surfaces. The result is a dramatic reduction in echoes and reflected sound, delivering unprecedented intelligibility to every seat in the house.
The new sound system comprises two Iconyx IC24-II-R steered array columns, with a 12-channel Mackie 1202VLZ4 analog mixer for inputs and a Biamp Nexia SP digital signal processorproviding system processing.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that the beam steering capability of the Iconyx loudspeakers has completely transformed the sound in the Great Hall,” says Snelling Business Services Managing Director Toby Wise.
The low-profile design of the Iconyx systems also addressed the University’s concerns regarding the Great Hall’s historic architecture, with Renkus-Heinz delivering the units custom painted to blend with the décor.
As Reading University’s Senior IT Technician Mark Taylor attests, the University’s first trial of the new system was an unqualified success. “Graduation ceremonies had always been something of a major headache in terms of sound, but this year everyone involved was full of praise for the clarity and audibility throughout the hall. The Iconyx system designed by Polar Audio has improved the functionality of the hall literally beyond recognition.”