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Calling All Stations - Leading Northern Theatre Upgrades Paging Systems

Bradford’s magnificent Alhambra Theatre has recently undergone a major upgrade of its backstage paging systems, all designed, supplied and configured by Autograph.

The new paging system accommodates both performance spaces at the Alhambra, the main (1400-seat) auditorium and the smaller Studio theatre. The core of the new setup is a QSC Q-SYS Core 250i processor, specified as per the rest of the equipment by Autograph’s Chris Austin. His brief from Bradford Theatres was to re-use as much of the existing cabling as possible, partly because of time constraints but also because of the disruption that would have been caused by implementing all new cable runs.

Chris Austin from Autograph said, ‘The system we replaced was installed in 1985 and has done its job admirably for many years - my goal was to design and install an upgrade that would last another 25 years but using the latest technology with all the advantages that brings. We managed to repurpose most of the existing cabling but now everything terminates in the Q-SYS Core 250i so that all the control, matrixing and routing is done in software, which lets us accommodate changes in a way which was unimaginable when the original system was installed.’

He continued, ‘The QSC processor has ample DSP for this application, in fact so much that we have designed-in capacity to handle a new house sound reinforcement system in future if necessary. Among the Core 250i’s many useful features is the ability to play pre-recorded messages from audio files stored on its hard drive, which are triggered from a touch screen on the prompt desk.’

‘At the Alhambra Theatre we configured eight paging zones, addressed from five control locations - front of house, stage door, control room and prompt corner positions on both sides of the stage - and we also supplied a new prompt desk with an integrated paging mic, while a portable mic is available for touring prompt desks. We also upgraded the cue lights to the GDS Ethernet-controlled CueSystem and reworked the video show relay patch and distribution system, based around an Autograph VDA-1 Video Blackout / Distribution Unit, part of our Signature Series that allows CCTV monitors that may be close to the stage or in the auditorium to be faded to black to ensure a complete blackout.’

Chris Barlow, Technical Electrics Manager at Bradford Theatres commented, ’It is always good to work with Chris Austin and Autograph who take great pride in the installation work they do and great care within the buildings they are working in. The new calls/paging system means we deliver clear and crisp announcements both Front of House and Back Stage. The Prompt desk and video systems are a great improvement and help with the day-to-day running of the shows which tour into the Alhambra Theatre.’

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