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Glasgow City Halls Revamps Performance and Recording Spaces with Studer Equipment

Glasgow City Hall’s Grand Hall

A Studer Vista 8 digital audio console was chosen for the new recording studio at the recently refurbished Glasgow City Halls in Glasgow, Scotland. The new studio will be used to record performances given in the Grand Hall by the venue’s principal resident, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Radio Scotland.

“Vista 8 technology confers significant practical benefits, as well as outstanding audio quality,” states Studer UK sales director Andrew Hills. “Using the new fiber-optic infrastructure, in conjunction with Studer’s portable stage boxes, the City Halls team will make noticeable savings on setup time as they move from venue to venue within the complex.”

Glasgow City Halls houses the Grand Hall, Old Fruitmarket and Recital Room. Now merged into one complex, these adjacent Victorian venues, dating from 1841, are the oldest purpose-built performance spaces in the city. The largest of the three, the 1,066-seat Grand Hall, is a lavishly decorated, traditional “shoebox” auditorium with raked seating and balcony. The auditorium is renowned throughout the world as possessing some of the finest acoustics for orchestral works.

The four-year project to revamp the City Halls into a world-class concert venue was completed at the start of 2006. A full recording and production environment was constructed within the halls, primarily to service the new complex, including the Grand Hall, Old Fruitmarket and Recital Room.

Designed by Arup Acoustics to an AES/EBU 5.1 spec, the control room is a room-within-a-room with a spare aesthetic. The configuration of the 32-fader Studer Vista 8 includes 120 analog and digital line level inputs plus 56 mic inputs, as well as a MADI multitrack interface for the SADiE recording system used by the BBC. The console was customized to include a tailored middle section housing peak program meters and providing extra space for music scores.

Equipment visibility is limited to black-and-white monitoring, the SADiE recording system and Stax electrostatic headphones. “Three or four engineers are using the Vista 8,” explains BBC SSO recording engineer Graeme Taylor, “and we all have our own settings in memory, which makes it very easy to come in and reset the desk. I’ve been impressed by how easy it is to build the desk the way you want it, and, at any time, you’re only one button-press away from the operation you want.”

Two Studer stage boxes are located in the Grand Hall: one built-in for the microphones suspended above the stage and another for the stage-mounted mics. In addition to the preferred Decca Tree microphone configuration, additional mics are used for woodwind and percussion, and there are spot mics as required onstage. With the studio control room situated under the auditorium, the long distance from stage microphone to Studer console is covered safely by optical fiber interconnects.

The fiber infrastructure extends into the adjacent venues, the Old Fruitmarket or the Recital Room, so the stage boxes can be moved into these areas, enabling quick setups.

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