REGAL OPTS FOR MARTIN LINE ARRAY
24 May 2008
(Oxford) - When Kieran Hayes was growing up as an aspiring DJ, he dreamed of nothing more than one day owning his own venue, with a proprietary Martin Audio sound system.This Spring his wish was fulfilled when the famous old 1930’s cinema on Oxford’s Cowley Road opened as the 1000-capacity Regal, following a refurbishment that had cost the owners well over £1m.
Kieran explained that his passion for Martin Audio had grown progressively over the years — from the days when his mate Dezzy used to run the early raves in Oxford using the famous old F1 system. “I have been a DJ for 20 years and I never forgot how Dezzy used to swear by his Martin system – my god did it rock.”
Prior to that his uncle’s band had previously toured the US with a Martin audio rig — and as the would-be operator looked enviously at the way in which leading London dance brands such as Fabric and the Ministry of Sound were adopting Martin Audio dance systems and custom stacks, his business partner Adam Marsh happened to introduce Kieran to Martin Audio’s director of engineering, Bill Webb, by chance at a birthday party — and the idea gathered momentum.
Various alternatives were discussed (and other systems reviewed), including the Martin Audio dance stack, but as the operating policy veered more towards a hybrid between dance nights and live rock concerts so Kieran and Adam came down in favour of a W8LC system; this has been provided by Capital Sound Hire on a long term rental and installed by Greg Sexton’s company, Beamlink.
Aside from Bill Webb’s and Simon Bull's input the operating team also benefited from other top advice — from Most Technical’s Dave Parry, a legendary figure in London club circles, and acoustics expert Paul Trew. The result is a set-up that Hayes describes as “absolutely awesome”.
The core system comprises six W8LC Compact line arrays flown each side of the stage, with a W8LCD downfall enclosure at the base. Two stacks of four Martin Audio 218x subwoofers, isolated on concrete pillars, provide the bass rumble.
Additionally the club purchased a pair of Blackline F12’s (and an S15 sub) from Capital Sound Hire to ensure the DJ’s had the best reference sound up in the control booth. The venue also bought the combination of Martin Audio MA4.2 and MA2.8 amplifiers, which power the entire system. In the DJ booth is also a Soundweb SW9010 ‘Jellyfish’ remote, which enables switching of the Martin Audio EQ presets between dance and live mode.
Upstairs in the Elite Room (which formerly traded as the general bar), the Regal has installed six of Martin Audio’s architectural AQ8’s and a pair of AQ212’s, which can take feeds from the main stage (via one of the four BSS 9088ii Soundweb units) or operate from its own independent system.
Kieran says that all the decisions had been based on budget and expenditure. “Repairs to the building structure were sucking up the cash,” he explained, “and so we decided to rent, rather than buy our sound and lighting systems. We also talked about running the subs laterally — but once we decided to promote live nights two vertical stacks seemed a better option.”
The operating team was also faced with the challenge of working within a Grade II-listed building, in a densely populated area. Presently the local Environmental Health authorities have set a system which results in an internal threshold restricted to around 104dB(a) but once exterior treatment to the building has been completed this will increase; similarly the capacity of the venue will expand to 1762 once the seating is restored.
And so begins the latest chapter in a building that Kieran Hayes first fell in love with three years ago, when a friend of his father’s purchased it for potential development.
It had operated as a Gala Bingo Hall until 2004 when it was left vacant — but its origins already date from the golden age of cinema. Built in 1937, it is one of only two remaining Regal Cinemas built by noted cinema architect Robert Cromie (the other being in Cheltenham). In fact two of the original projectors have been restored and reside as museum pieces in the projection room up in the Gods.
The venue is open Tuesday through Saturday and for Kieran and his partners it marks the end of one journey and beginning of another. “I used to drive past this place as a kid — never believing that one day I would be running it,” he says.
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