Europe's largest contemporary dance facility chooses Electro-Voice
In an awe-inspiring landmark building at the heart of South East London’s thriving arts community is the largest purpose-built contemporary dance centre in the world. Laban is the UK’s first conservatoire for music and dance, and from this spring all its students, choreographers, designers, writers, researchers, artists, theatre practitioners, and musicians will train and perform to the sound of Electro-Voice ZX Series loudspeakers, installed throughout the faculty.
Laban’s remarkable modern building, situated on a two-acre site beside Deptford Creek, has won many prizes for architects Herzog and de Meuron, who also designed the Tate Modern and the National Stadium for Beijing’s Olympic Games. Dedicated to dance, it is the largest and best-equipped contemporary facility in Europe, with 13 purpose-built studios fitted with the latest sprung flooring and large windows for natural light.
The Deptford facility opened in 2002, but the student environment has already proved too demanding for the music playback systems originally installed in the studios. Laban’s Head of Production Karsten Tinapp explains that he was “Forever replacing blown HF drivers which, with four loudspeakers in every studio, were becoming very expensive.“ Each of the 13 studios has a rack with amplifier and CD player which can be controlled by students. “Nowadays, they bring in their own MP3 players as well; music styles include hip-hop and beats, and they like to crank up the systems, which takes its toll on the speaker components.“
Tinapp and Laban’s in-house production department, aided by external consultant Mark Hornsby, auditioned three leading brands of full-range compact speakers; direct A/B comparisons in the dance studio environment produced a clear leader. “The Electro-Voice ZX1 units satisfied on every level,“ says Tinapp. “High output, with full-bandwidth overload protection capability - they’re much harder to blow up! They have really good low-frequency performance, sounding nicer and more rounded than our previous system, much more our thing. And they were easy to install - with the same footprint and dimensions as the old cabinets, we could make use of the existing infrastructure.“
Two pairs of ZX1s have gone into each of Laban’s 13 dance studios, and Shuttlesound has also supplied larger ZX3 cabinets to act as a production PA in Laban’s Studio Theatre, which hosts public performances. These lightweight, 12-inch, two-way loudspeakers feature the new DVX3121 12-inch woofer and ND2 neodymium compression driver.
Shuttlesound’s John Ellis, who worked closely with Laban on the project, points out that “The ZX Series loudspeakers are robust, reliable, and high-performance boxes; they use high-quality EV components - with a long excursion, high-output, eight-inch woofer and the DH2005, a one-inch compression driver with natural open top end, it is one of our most popular boxes and should survive the student environment easily! I love contemporary dance, so I’m excited by this venture and I’m sure we will be working with Laban for many years to come.“
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