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Audio Technology For Contemporary Education At Bradfield College

Within an idyllic setting in the rolling Berkshire countryside, Bradfield College is one of the UK’s leading independent schools for boys and girls aged from 13 to 18 years. Almost 800 students enjoy a varied sports and activities programme, a key element in providing the well-rounded education which, along with academic excellence, is the primary aim of the College.

Autograph were presented with a clear brief to identify suitable products for a cost-effective versatile, state-of-the-art and durable system solution to facilitate not only the many events when sound reinforcement is currently needed but also to provide sufficient capacity for the future. The ability for the college to educate pupils with the most up-to-date equipment used in the professional arena, enables college productions to be totally student-led.

This detailed brief was created by Bradfield’s Performing Arts Technical Manager Oliver Schreiber, who had made a proposal to the college designed to allow growth (facilitating more events, concerts, musical theatre productions, plays, lectures and presentations without the need to budget for these a year in advance), thus allowing a new degree of spontaneity. The ability to eliminate hire costs wherever possible, highlighted by Oliver’s suggestion, also formed the basis of a sound commercial case for the investment.

Autograph Director Duncan Bell played a crucial role in the creation of the specification and also in introducing Oliver to the KV2 range, as the latter explains: ‘Having started my current role at Bradfield two years ago, I quickly realised that there was a need for the college to own a core-pool of audio equipment to facilitate their concerts, drama and other events to a professional standard. Having contacted Duncan Bell at Autograph, someone with whom I’ve worked for many years, I knew that he would help me focus on delivering exactly what the college needed.’

Oliver continues, ‘He came to visit me at Bradfield, had me explain the requirements and show him the venues after which he invited me to a KV2 demo for Autograph staff and several other designers. Once I heard KV2, we designed a full solution around their products. The success of this project is very largely down to Duncan’s and Peppe’s ability to listen and adapt to my needs and their immaculate attention to support, detail, care and quality. Autograph have managed to instil my faith into a product I knew nothing about, and my faith is supported by Autograph's test of KV2 equipment for their rental market. I trust in KV2, because I trust in Autograph and because I know I will get the support I need.’

The numerous applications at the college include performances at the Greek Theatre, known affectionately as 'Greeker', set in a former chalk pit in the centre of the village. First used as far back as 1890 and subject to a major restoration completed in 2014, the outdoor auditorium has a capacity of 1000 and hosts numerous productions and technical rehearsals throughout the summer months. There are also regular requirements for per-location sound systems throughout the campus for all manner of other events and musical applications, including the Old Gym (a multipurpose venue with the ability to seat an audience of 400) and a large marquee with a capacity of over 500.

In due course Autograph delivered a comprehensive package of audio equipment to the college, based around a modular suite of KV2 loudspeaker and amplifier products. This includes a pair of KV2 ESR215 enclosures, supplemented by two KV2 ES1.8 subwoofers and complete with bespoke weatherproof covers commissioned by Autograph. The former are tri-amplified by a single KV2 ESR3000 amplifier and their wide (110 degree) horizontal dispersion ensures excellent coverage and intelligibility across large audience areas when necessary. The subwoofers are powered from a dedicated KV2 VHD3200 amplifier while a KV2 SAC2 Super Analogue Controller provides principal system processing. Front of house mixing duties are handled by a DiGiCo S31 digital mixing system, equipped with a MADI expansion card, 75m of CAT5E cable for connection of the supplied D-Rack and a professional flight case.

Two KV2 ESD12 passive full-range enclosures driven by a single KV2 ESP2000 High Definition power amplifier via an XTA DP448 digital processor were also supplied, along with a compact 20-input Yamaha MG20XU analogue mixing console. A selection of KV2 monitoring solutions are included, again designed to be deployed as and where necessary - two EX10 self-powered, full-range enclosures (supplied with mounting brackets and heavy duty covers) are joined by four ESD10 passive models, with power coming from a pair of KV2 ESP2000 power amplifiers.

Oliver again: ’Our system components needed to be reconfigurable into various smaller systems as well as being sufficient for Greeker and Old Gym Musical Theatre Productions. For example, the ESR215s often act as the main PA, in the Greeker, the Old Gym and even in the big marquee, while the ESD12s are then deployed as delay lines or fills. Similarly the ESD10s can be monitor wedges, small PA systems or delay speakers for larger systems.’

‘The small Yamaha console is for beginners or those who are not quite ready for a digital console, but is also ideal for small set-ups where the DiGiCo S31 would be overkill. The appearance of the S31 was extremely well-timed as the S21 wasn’t quite what I needed but at the time of the original proposal the S31 had yet to launch. Fortunately it became available while we were completing the detailed technical specification and I knew right away that it was perfect for us.’

Like every audio system and especially those that are intended for multiple applications, the key to successful deployments is an appropriate inventory of supporting accessories and ancillary items. As is usually the case, Autograph were able to supply the complete list of various types of cabling, microphone stands, protective covers, mounting hardware, power distribution, digital and analogue audio multicores and stageboxes, DI (direct injection) units, transport options and cases from their own sales portfolio.

Their long expertise in wired and wireless microphones also assisted in the specification and supply of various models including Shure ULX-D digital wireless systems fitted with Beta 87A capsules, Shure MX418/S lectern mics, DPA d:fine 4066 headset and d:vote 4099 microphones, two AKG C414-XLS large-diaphragm condenser microphones, six AKG C451 Bs and a complete drum mic set, plus appropriate accessories for all.

Peppe Mallozzi commented, ‘The Bradfield College project required that a number of boxes had to be ticked - the systems had to be modular and flexible enough to cope with not only their primary roles but also anything else that might be required. We also had to deliver a complete infrastructure of cabling, microphones and accessories within a set budget and it was only our very broad product portfolio that enabled us to do this.’

He concluded, ‘Working with someone of Oliver’s huge experience was great for us too because he knew exactly the outcome he was looking for - matching products and systems to his vision was an exacting but very rewarding process.’

Oliver has the final word: ‘Quite apart from the operational capabilities of our new systems, we are enabling pupils and staff to familiarise themselves with today's music and production technology without being restricted by short term hire periods - even better, we are providing them with the very tools they will meet in the outside world. One thing is clear - without KV2 this would not have happened. You've got to hear the 215s to believe it, they are amazing and beautiful…!’

Find out more about Bradfield College HERE

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