Audio distributor Autograph Sales has supplied a unique line source loudspeaker system from LDS, for On The Town, the first musical ever staged by the English National Opera (ENO). This unique production is now playing at ENO’s restored home, the London Coliseum, through May. [For more information on the renovation of ENO, visit "Centennial Restoration".]

Sound designer Nick Lidster realized that fitting sound reinforcement into a venue designed for acoustic performances was never going to be a straightforward task. He specified the LDS system, while facing several challenges in designing this premier production. The loudspeaker installation had to be discreet, since it remains rigged during other opera performances in the ENO. It also had to be aesthetically pleasing against the backdrop of the Grade II-listed auditorium.

To achieve the demands of the venue and production, a unique cantilevered rigging system was designed by ENO’s in-house engineers, upon which the LDS loudspeakers were partly suspended. The system’s 22 cabinets hang in two columns on either side of the stage, each measuring over 56’ high and consisting of 10 LDS 800s and one LDS 400. In total, the proscenium system uses 168 ribbon HF transducers and the same number of 7" LF drivers.

The exceptional height of the system means that the vertical coverage is controlled to within half a meter of the array’s dimensions, reducing unwanted reflections from the Coliseum's domed ceiling. Thanks to the absence of traditional horns and the physical proper ties of a true line source system, front-row audience members are able to enjoy the performance within 10’ of the LDS loudspeakers, a near identical experience to those at the back of the auditorium.

The loudspeakers were covered with beige gauze, blending the columns into the auditorium’s color scheme. Other LDS theatre installations have been successfully disguised as elements of the set and proscenium surround, creating a near-invisible solution for visually sensitive surroundings.

The LDS loudspeakers produced such even coverage that only a single Meyer Sound MSL-2 was required for the center cluster. However, due to the exceptionally deep balconies on both upper levels of the theatre, miniature delay loudspeakers were employed using 34 single ribbon drivers.

Lidster’s design has been a success, with The Glasgow Herald commenting, "Nick Lidster’s impeccable sound system provides a rare experience at the Coliseum," while adding that the sound reinforcement improved, rather than detracted from, the intelligibility of voices from the stage.