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EXCLUSIVE: Bose and The Forum – a Match made in heaven

We report on Bose’s play for the European live market with a major install at the Kentish Town venue

A Bose RoomMatch speaker system, designed using the company’s Modeler software and powered by PowerMatch amplification, has transformed The Forum in Kentish Town, north London, as part of six-figure, Marquee AV-installed audio solution.

The install marks a major step forward for the RoomMatch brand – designed by Bose to overcome, using its acoustic waveguide technology, the performance limitations of conventional line-array and point-source loudspeakers – which has been largely associated with larger venues and stadia since its launch in 2011.

The venue, originally built in 1934, was bought from Mean Fiddler in 2007 by British entertainment group MAMA & Company, which spent £1.5m refurbishing the art-deco former cinema and increasing its capacity from 2,100 to 2,300. Other MAMA venues include the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, The Borderline in Soho, The Jazz Cafe and The Barfly in Camden, The Garage in Islington and various venues in other major British cities. It also operates the Lovebox, Wilderness, Global Gathering and The Great Escape festivals (see Escape to the coast: TGE 2014).

“We had The Fly Awards [at The Forum] in February – it was part of our [The] Fly magazine, which we were pretty much closing down, so we wanted to go out with a last hurrah,” MAMA director Ivor Wilkins explained to PSNEurope. “We spoke to the guys at Bose and they kindly said that they would put a system in to fit that, so we had everyone from Thurston Moore to The Horrors [playing through it].” (Pictured, courtesy of Laurie Pierce, is dub/electronica act Submotion Orchestra christening the system on 14 November.)

The Forum’s old sound set-up simply wasn’t able to fill the entire venue, according to Tom Simpson, senior acoustic designer and technical trainer at Bose Professional Systems Division UK, who designed the new solution. Although he recalled that the sound at the front of the venue was “perfectly intelligible”, he explained: “We came to listen to a band here – we were sitting in the VIP area, about halfway up the balcony – and the band was playing and I could see the lips of the lead singer moving, but couldn’t understand anything that was coming out of the [six-year-old] sound system at the time.”

Tasked by MAMA & Company with developing what became the system for The Fly’s “last hurrah” on 6 February, used by Bombay Bicycle Club, Wild Beasts and Peace (as well as the aforementioned Horrors and Thurston Moore), Simpson (pictured, above right, at the venue’s sound desk) went to the drawing board and “experimented with a design we could use for a demonstration, based on the cabinets we had in the UK at the time”. He explained: “The solution we offer is a customisable solution, in terms of tailoring the array to fit the space, but it’s made out of non-custom components – there are 42 modules in the range, and as a designer I can choose from that selection of coverage angles to produce an array.

“With the demo system we put in here, it was very much a case of ‘What can you do with what you’ve got?’. In order to get a system in [in time], I had to fly the arrays about three metres higher than they are currently to make the angles that I had work. Based on the feedback [from the bands], we took that away and kept that in our minds if we were invited back to put a system in here permanently – how that would impact on the design.”

Find out tomorrow if Bose was invited back (spoiler: they were!) in part two.