ADLIB Audio and Harman Pro UK collaborated closely to design, supply and install a JBL VerTec line array system at the Isle of Man’s new flagship multi-purpose venue – the Villa Marina.

The Isle of Man government’s Department of Tourism & Leisure has invested £14 million into the project to restore the Villa Marina in Douglas, and turn it into the Island’s premier multi-purpose venue, alongside its sister, the Gaiety Theatre.

The venue combines Edwardian splendour with contemporary thinking. The spherical Royal Hall features a 19.5 metre high domed ceiling and seats 1500 people – with easy conversion to standing or dancefloor format.

ADLIB won the competitive tender to supply the kit amidst stiff competition– which also includes several other Harman brands including BSS, Crown and Soundcraft. They project was co-ordinated by ADLIB’s Andy Dockerty and Harman Pro UK’s Max Lindsay-Johnson, and for the client by Steve Dawson, general manager of the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre Complex.

High Production Values

From the outset, the brief was to specify the right production values to put the Isle of Man on the map in attracting regular touring artists of all types – from psycho trance to tea dance – reassuring them that all they need to play the Island is to bring their backline

The system’s physical aesthetics also had to match the architectural integrity of the room and maintain clear sightlines from all around the auditorium. It also needed to be equipment familiar and acceptable to visiting engineers, to reduce their set up and programming times, flexible enough to meet the demands of complex productions and configurable for speech reinforcement.

When JBL launched the mid sized VerTec system in early 2003, Steve Dawson visited the UK to hear and see it system ‘in situ’ for himself. Well impressed, the resulting audio tender was based around this specific sound system.

Harman did an initial site survey and constructed an acoustic model of the venue, along with a 3D wire frame model from the architects drawings. The room and enclosure data and measurements, etc. were entered into EASE, an electro-acoustic simulation environment, which came up with a set of photometrics for optimum speaker positions and a great sound. They also used JBL’s line array calculation software, and the results were presented and explained to the client.

The Installation

The on-the-ground installation work was carried out by ADLIB’s Marc Peers and Roger Kirby, assisted by local sound engineer Anglin Buttimore.

The main arrays are 12 VerTec 4888 elements - 6 per side - complete with two VT4887 under-hang boxes per side for front fill. Under the balcony are 12 JBL Control 30’s for delay, concealed behind architectural panels in the balcony roof. Front of stage are four JBL AM6212/64 enclosures for out-fills. ADLIB Audio 281 enclosures are utilized onstage for front centre fills.

ADLIB also designed and built special custom sub bass units fitted under the stage, with two spare sub enclosures available to boost the bottom end when necessary.

The FOH console is a Soundcraft Series 5, complete with BSS Omnidrives for system control, BSS 960 EQs and a rack full of the most popular and common gates, compressors and effects including devices from TC, Lexicon, Yamaha, dbx and Drawmer.

Monitors feature the brand new ADLIB AA1515W wedges, designed by Marc Peers and ADLIB’s Dave Fletcher, and containing a hybrid mix of special 15 inch and a one-and-a-half inch PD and Band C drivers – containing all the best characteristics of several other drivers. These very low profile enclosures will become the new ADLIB standard wedges over the next few months. The top end response runs flat up to 16K.

Monitors offer a choice of BSS EQ or a dbx Drive Rack system with all the remote facilities. The system is again designed to be fully flexible, complete with all cable runs hard-wired to stage. The multicore incorporates 48 inputs with patch facility and satellite boxes for remote patching.

The dbx Drive Rack 480R remote sits at the desk and allows access to all the processing and amps under-stage. The engineer can adjust the processing from the monitor position, and it’s MIDI linked to the Soundcraft SM20 monitor desk, so when listening to a specific mix, the graphics are automatically put into the engineer’s listening wedge. The dbx system was chosen for its facilities and cost-effectiveness ratio. The remote can also be used FOH, also enabling the EQ’ing of the monitors and access to all the graphics from there.

The air-conditioned amp room downstairs is full of Crown VZ 5002s, and the Crown XS series for the in-fills, delays, side fills and monitors. ADLIB also supplied Villa Marina with a selection of AKG microphones including the new 451 condenser mic.

ADLIB designed and built a customised fire alarm system to integrate with the main PA. Avoiding the rather brutal ‘power cut’ to all equipment when the alarm is triggered, here, all the returns pass through relays which receive 4 Volts and shut down the amps when the alarm goes off. This is a far more efficient and friendly way of stopping the system.

The house system will be run by technical manager Séamus Shea and Alex Davidson, who also head the technical team at the Gaiety Theatre. ADLIB engineers will spend a week training the local technical staff on all the new equipment, and will also be available for on-going support. Part of the documentation package from ADLIB also included printed and electronic versions of all the various equipment manuals and instructions.

ADLIB’s sister company Adlite supplied a lighting system for the Gala opening featuring Elkie Brooks, comedian Tom O’Connor and the Manx Youth Orchestra.

The cinema element of the Villa Marina Complex also features a JBL cinema audio system, that was designed and installed by Sound Associates, consisting of a JBL 3678 Screen system and 3635 subs.