UTB Upgrades Sound System

Article originally appeared on SFL.LIVE

Under the Bridge (UTB), located underneath Stamford Bridge Stadium, is a purpose built, plug and play, multifunctional space with a 550 persons capacity that caters to both public and private events. The venue boasts state-of-the-art sound and lighting, perfect for gigs, press calls, showcases, fashion shoots, live broadcasts, after-parties, comedy nights, corporate events and much more.

After successfully working with SFL on several events, UTB approached SFL to demonstrate and design a new sound system. SFL’s Andy Felix, Project Manager, worked with Liam Hoy, Technical Manager at UTB, to establish the most appropriate solution.

Following a site visit and consequently several discussions, the overriding issue identified was a surplus of loudspeakers that made maintaining effective audio dispersion and acceptable intelligibility characteristics rather challenging. According to Liam: “The in-house system was certainly starting to show its age and six 18-inch dual driver subs located under the stage resulted in artists frequently struggling with the clarity of their on-stage monitoring. It was just a case of having sound absolutely everywhere. It didn’t sound bad, but it didn’t have any real clarity.”

Liam continues: “As a venue linked to a world-famous brand, the reality was that unfortunately at times the standard of quality fell short of the understandably high expectations”

Under the Bridge chose d&b audiotechnik as their preferred loudspeaker manufacturer and according to Liam: “due to its world class reputation for quality and reliability and consequently proving to be very rider friendly. The solution ensures an optimal and professional experience for both artists and audience.”

The result was the installation of a new d&b loudspeaker system using a combination of d&b V-Series line array, V-Series point source and Y-Series point source as fills around the venue. Monitoring was provided by several M4 monitors. Rounding out the performance of the system is a combination of B6-SUBs as well as flown V-SUBs. Amplification was provided using 10D, 30D and d&b’s new and extremely energy efficient 40D.

Liam comments that the impact has been evident and that the d&b V-Series solution has “brought real compactness and unprecedented neatness in the venue.” This is due to a significant reduction in the quantity of speakers required, as well as d&b loudspeakers being noticeably smaller in size.

In addition, an overall design change has resulted in a much more open and clear view of the stage from the engineering pit. Compared to the previous solution, additional SUBs on stage are no longer needed, instantly increasing stage space. Instead, some SUBs are now flown which in conjunction with the SUBs positioned under the stage provides increased coverage. Thanks to the cardioid design of the d&b SUBs, the on-stage experience is now much quieter.

With regards to amplification, due to d&b’s technological efficiency, the venue has managed to reduce the amplifier count from three 40u amp racks to half a rack only. In addition, d&b amplifiers use up to 90% less energy than conventional amplifiers due to its highly efficient ‘stand by’ mode.

Liam states that: “the shutdown time and energy consumption has been significantly reduced and the overall process has been hugely simplified. In that way, the d&b technology is really contributing to our ambitious sustainability goals here at UTB.”

Under the Bridge chose SFL due to its reputation of valuing relationship and partnership. Liam adds: “SFL showed real attentiveness in listening to the brief and attention to detail in delivering to budget. From the outset, SFL brought an ‘outside the box’ and ‘extra mile’ approach. When quoting for the design, the difference was that SFL really took our points on board. The ArrayCalc was not just a square, it was a very accurate model of our venue. This really built our confidence in SFL as a supplier. It’s been a great collaboration.”

With the project taking place during the pandemic, the venue was incredibly impressed with the agility and adaptability the SFL team showed in consistently working within Covid guidelines and restrictions on site. UTB is thrilled with how it now boasts a world class audio solution, ensuring optimal trust and confidence and providing unprecedented clarity as well as outstanding coverage to the varied audiences it plays host to.

“The renewal of a PA system in any music venue can be both a daunting and exciting experience. I’d like to thank SFL for doing everything in their power to make it the latter. From the design phase to completion, they have been fantastic in communication and delivery of what we wanted to achieve here at UTB. Throughout this process, we consistently trusted in SFL, never had a reason to worry or panic and always felt assured of a positive outcome. We are proud to have the system on our tech rider and are already enjoying the benefits of that great ‘d&b’ sound” Liam concluded.

Alan Tenenbaum, Creative Manager at UTB adds: “From a non-technical standpoint, with our first gig post-installation, the bass was so on point it was incredible. The audience and the artists were beyond thrilled and happy. It was a moment of this just works!”

SFL brought a problem-solving and explorative approach to the project which resulted in an extremely satisfactory overall solution.

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