Passengers on one of the world's premier luxury cruise ships, the QE2, are enjoying the results of an extensive technical refurbishment of the Grand Lounge, the largest entertainment venue on the ship. A new Martin Audio sound system has been installed to handle the Lounge's diverse program of events.

The Grand Lounge stretches over two decks of the ship, accommodating 450 people in cabaret-style seating on two levels. Twice a night, the ship's on-board cast presents theatrical productions, and occasionally guest cabaret artists and dance bands perform. Cunard's Entertainment technical manager Andy Pygott was searching for a sound reinforcement system flexible enough to handle these shows, as well as all the other events that are hosted by the Grand Lounge throughout the day.

"We were looking for a system that would deliver even sound coverage across the whole room, with a particular emphasis on vocal clarity," says Pygott. "The system needed to have the ability to handle all of these different types of shows and provide the levels required without feedback for everything from a speech to a full theater production. We looked at a lot of options, considering also what would be easy to install. We'd used Martin Audio speakers previously, and concluded that this system would be the ideal passive solution for our refurbishment."

With the stage thrusting slightly forward into the audience area, Andy Pygott and Ross Portway, the sound designer, couldn't use a conventional theatre configuration. Either side of the stage is a column where two W2 full-range cabinets are mounted, one facing inwards, the other facing outwards. Behind each of these columns, an EM26 provides fill for the left and right wings of the room. At the front of the stage, 6 x EM15s provide the front fill for the first rows, while a single W2 flown 30’ above the stage provides a center presence. Twenty feet into the Lounge, a pair of EM26s is mounted on a column each side of the room: further back still, 2 x EM15s are ceiling-mounted under the balcony. Two WS2A subs have been stacked on either side of the stage.

Installed by Stage Electrics, Ross Portway and the Cunard technical team, the system is powered by Crown, with Media Matrix to align and EQ the system because of the number of delay speakers in the room. "The verdict on the Martin system is excellent," says Pygott. "We're getting reports from everybody–the passengers, the staff and the acts–that the new system is fantastic."