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Britannia Row provides audio system for Bohemian Rhapsody at SSE Arena

The film dedicated to Queen, premiered at Wembley's SSE Arena with a 7:1 audio system and equipment supplied by Britannia Row

The premiere of Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody recently took place at the SSE Arena in Wembley, London, with Britannia Row providing a 7:1 audio system for the event.

Re-recording mixer for the soundtrack, Paul Massey, added reverb and hints of slap-back to the soundtrack with the aim of recreating an authentic 1980s Queen’s concert for the fans. 

Britannia Row’s FOH sound designer, Colin Pink commented: “When staging such a premiere in a room like Wembley using a huge 7:1 audio system from Britannia Row Productions, the last thing you want is added reverb’ and slap-back.”

Technical producer Andy Peat, from production company Andy Peat Associates, was responsible for assembling the team. “I was asked by James MacFarlane, senior technical manager at 20th Century Fox early in the summer to prepare for a premiere event sometime in the Autumn,” explained Peat. “My role was to look after all the interior technical infrastructure, working for and with Premier PR headed up by Event Director Hilary Chadwick who, as the overall event producers oversee everything else, from the exterior red-carpet arrivals to the VIP seating plan within.”

“At 28m (w) by 11.7m (h) the 1.4 Perlux gain screen was enormous. Made by Harkness at their French facility, the only factory large enough to produce such a sprayed screen, it was rigged by Blackout who also took care of the multiple PA points. It was slightly angled back from vertical by three degrees, so the light reflected back directly onto the audience. The angle makes a big difference to how bright the audience perceives the image to be. The projection booth was built and installed by Steel the Scene; lined with 120mm thick acoustic panels to isolate any sound from the booth to the outside; the projector module also sat on an isolation island so the projectors themselves were unaffected by the vibrations of operators moving within the booth.”

In addition, Josh Lloyd from Britannia Row managed system design. “Our aim as defined by 20th Century Fox was of course to get the full 7:1 experience across the whole listening space. Using exclusively L-Acoustics loudspeakers, some of the design principals of their immersive L-isa technology have parallels with what we were doing. We are gaining a lot of experience with L-isa right now and have several shows and tours running it. But Wembley is a notoriously difficult venue sound wise and between Colin Pink and myself we determined several additional touches to ensure the correct experience. Some fundamentals such as Colin’s insistence on drapes rigged across the back wall to reduce slap-back, some more nuanced.” 

Lloyd’s design comprised three hangs of K2 behind the screen L/C/R, with a central hang of KS28 subs as well. There are two hangs of Kara L/R at the rear of the arena and to complete the surround system, there were three flown hangs of Kiva down each side of the arena floor.

Peat concluded: “The dialogue has to be perfectly audible in the normal expectation of a film, and then the music has to be reproduced in a way that is entirely evocative of the Queen live show experience. Authenticity is the key, and Brit Row delivered.”