RCF upgrade for The Sage Gateshead

RCF’s HDL 20-A line array system has been installed in Hall One.

David Davies

To celebrate its tenth year, popular UK venue The Sage Gateshead has upgraded the sound system in its 1,700-capacity main Hall One with the installation of an RCF HDL 20-A line array by local contractor and long-time RCF rental partner Nitelites.

The move follows a period of careful evaluation by the facility’s head of technical operations, Chris Durant and his team, during the many occasions the HDL20-A has been flown on a temporary basis to support the house system.

Home to Royal Northern Sinfonia, and host to a vast concert agenda that includes jazz, folk, country and rock, the original beam steering system had rarely kept pace with the Sage’s promotional ambitions and so Nitelites found themselves increasingly hiring in their RCF TT+ and HDL rigs.

Nitelites’ MD, Jamie Moore, proposed that a flown HDL 20-A be installed on a permanent basis – both to save the Sage Gateshead hire costs and to enable the system to be purpose tuned via a series of preset scenes accessed via a custom panel.

“With HDL we were confident we could get even coverage around the building, whether for speech or classical. The system is so easy to deploy, quick to rig and fast to wire,” said Nitelites co-director Andy Magee.

The PA is designed to cover the ground floor, two balcony tiers and is split into 12 zones. Nitelites detailed 12 HDL20-A enclosures for each flank, rigged on a flying frame which will take up to 16 elements.

The rest of the complement comprises three HDL 20-A a side as portable ground stack on custom dollies, atop a SUB 8004. A separate stack features three SUB 8006s in a reverse cardioid pattern (one rear facing), with an HDL 10-A on top. Two HDL 10-As are also used for under-balcony infill and four as front lip-fills. On the sides of the main hang for outfills are four discreet RCF TT08s.

Chris Durant believes that Nitelites’ attention to detail in tuning the system has enabled them to get an additional 30% from the system. “We’ve had pretty much every big system in here and our new in-house RCF house rig sounds better because temporary systems have to be set up so quickly; this [has] been tuned to within an inch of its life.”

He presented Nitelites with a matrix containing different performance scenarios for which gain structure presets were created. Via the DSP, Sage Gateshead can turn zones on and off in the PA at will. “It’s far more efficient than changing the angles of the boxes every time we needed a new configuration,” said Durant.
“The great thing about the HDL 20-A is that it goes down to 55Hz so for jazz and classical there are no subs at all. In fact the first time I heard it I thought our subs had been switched in by mistake.”