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‘The atmosphere is tenfold what it used to be’: Warner Leisure’s Somerset hotel upgrades with L-Acoustics sound system

Warner Leisure hotels frequently hosting West End-quality performances as part of the luxury hotel experience

Warner Leisure Hotels has introduced a major upgrade to the sound system in the ballroom at its Cricket St. Thomas Manor Hotel in Somerset, selecting an L-Acoustics Kiva II system.

Warner Leisure Hotels comprises of 14 rural and coastal luxury hotels around the UK. The hotels are mostly in Grade I and II listed manors, frequently hosting West End-quality performances as part of the luxury hotel experience.

“Billy Ocean, Aswad, 10CC and Jane McDonald have previously performed here, and we have an exciting line up for the coming months. All of these bigger acts, their engineers and production teams, expect to have a top calibre PA system. We used to hire in and ground stack systems, which served the purpose but as a temporary installation, but you can’t cover the room comprehensively and there are aesthetic sightline issues with two big stacks of PA,” explained David Hall, head of technical at Cricket St Thomas. “We also always struggled to deliver even coverage throughout the room – with the house or hired system – to ensure all guests have the same audio experience.”

Hall appointed leading AVL specialists, Adlib, to carry out the refurbishment led by installations project manager, Tim Robinson.

“As a touring sound engineer, I’ve worked with Adlib at various festivals and events and have always been very impressed with how they operate,” commented Hall. “Adlib is well known and trusted for big festival productions and the staff are professional and very knowledgeable. I wanted to translate that kind of production infrastructure to this installation project.”

Adlib set about fulfilling the client brief, selecting L-Acoustics as the ideal choice for a rider-friendly PA system that is aesthetically pleasing and would solve coverage issues in the room. The resulting L-Acoustics system design comprised two hangs of six Kiva II line source speakers, six SB15m subwoofers in a flown arc sub-array, one X12 to provide a delay in the furthest part of the room, and three 5XT compact speakers where the ceiling drops down to a much lower level.

“The choice of Kiva II as the mid-high element was straightforward,” explained Robinson. “The biggest challenge that we had to face was getting even sub coverage in the asymmetrical room, which greatly limited our choices. The existing subs were positioned left and right in alcoves under the stage but if we replicated that, we would have created exactly the same power alley effect that we were trying to avoid. We couldn’t put a centre cluster or a line source on the floor because there’s a motorised pull out section of the stage. So, by process of elimination, we needed to go up. Consequently, we created a flown arc sub-array and the result is exceptionally even coverage throughout the whole venue.”

Complementing the speaker system, Adlib installed two L-Acoustics LA12X amplified controllers, and a QSC Q-Sys core processor for system routing and control, interfacing to the house or guest consoles and providing a user-friendly touchscreen front end for staff.

“The Q-Sys system also controls power/mute sequencing providing a one-touch ‘on/off’ button for users whilst offering management an ‘emergency volume control’ for the rare occasions when visiting engineers are not mixing to a level appropriate for Warner’s guests,” Robinson added.

“One of the challenges of this project was the fact that the hotel enjoys a very high occupancy rate of 94 to 96 per cent year-round, meaning there was no period where they could close the hotel or even just the entertainment suite, so we had to schedule our work around the programme,” said Robinson. “The show did go on every night, and I’m very proud of the fact that we managed to get the entire system delivered, installed, configured and handed over to the client with a show delivered within a week.”

“The new system has been very well received by guests, and the atmosphere is tenfold what it used to be,” concluded Hall. “Audience engagement now spans the whole room, so whether you’re sat in the front row or the back corner, you’ll hear the vocals clearly and feel that kick drum hitting you in the chest. I knew there would be a difference, but I didn’t expect it to be such a noticeable change.”