SFL installs redundant fibre network and largest ever one-room speaker set-up

London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall has completed the biggest improvement to sound in its auditorium since the installation of the iconic acoustic ‘mushrooms’ 50 years ago.

Costing over £2 million, the project took 693 days of labour, 15,291m of cable, and 465 individual speakers, in the world’s largest loudspeaker install in a single room.

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Royal Albert Hall

With equipment supplied by Autograph Sales and installed by SFL, the digital distribution network adopted a ring topology and the selection of multi-format I/O cards included analogue, AES, ANA, DMI Optocore and DMI Dante.

Within this, a pair of BroaMan Route66 Optocore AutoRouters, managing Optocore links from the DiGiCo desk environment, have been specified as central routers in a redundant starred network—this is to cater for the large number of patch panels distributed around the venue to the d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers.

Compatible with Optocore and DiGiCo fibre loops, the added functionality of the AutoRouter on the Route 66 makes it ideal for large installations such as this where there are multiple connection points.

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Royal Albert Hall

As a Grade I listed building, the intricate new sound system proposal required special building consent and had to work within the fabric of the famous Victorian venue.

The project drew on the most detailed acoustic surveys and modelling ever undertaken in the Hall, courtesy of leading acousticians Sandy Brown, and ground-breaking installation methods.

The new system also features the first ever circle, gallery and box speakers, bringing the sound closer to all seats, radically improving levels, tone, and clarity for every seat in the house, meaning sound quality is now equal throughout the Hall for the wide range of programmes hosted, ranging from boxing to ballet and everything in between.

Craig Hassall, Chief Executive of the Royal Albert Hall, said, “This investment is about more than just updating the sound system, it’s about future-proofing the building as we approach our 150th anniversary in 2021, so that it is fit for another 150 years.”

Incredibly, none of the several hundred shows that took place during the installation period were stopped or affected, thanks to an overnight engineering work schedule carried out by installation company SFL.

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