Live music is back on the Channel Island of Guernsey. With lockdown restrictions on the island completely lifted on 20th June due to the eradication of all Coronavirus cases, the St James concert venue in Saint Peter Port is in the fortunate and enviable position of being one of the only live music venues to have re-opened its doors. And when it did so, the 350-capacity venue had completed its first phase installation of a brand new JBL VTX A8 PA system, a key component in an ongoing series of upgrades to the historic venue.
The search for a new sound system began in August 2019 when St James' Executive Director Jon Bisson visited the Independent Venue Week conference in London as a fact-finding and networking opportunity. It was there he met team members from HARMAN Professional and UK distributor Sound Technology Ltd - including Sound Technology’s Ben Todd and Joe East, and HARMAN’s Ed Jackson - and where he also heard HARMAN's newly introduced JBL VTX A8 line array for the first time.
Jon gives some background to the story: "St James is a beautiful venue in a fantastic location. We aim to deliver an exceptional experience for audiences and acts - highly desirable to come over to visit and easy for bands to play when they get here. That's everything from our hospitality, to the incredible local accommodation, to a stock of high-end backline. We knew we were already increasingly on the radar as an attractive venue for top-end acts but the final and much needed component was a PA upgrade to take us to the next level. With this JBL PA we've done just that. "
Following the initial meeting at the Independent Venue Week conference, Ben Todd then of Sound Technology's Application Team, now having joined the team at HARMAN, carried out a site visit to St James in November 2019 to complete EASE modelling of the venue.
The final specification includes the main arrays consisting of 10 x JBL VTX A8 line-array elements and 4 x JBL VTX B18 subs, JBL AC18s providing front fill and delays, and CBT70J providing balcony fills. All are powered by HARMAN's Crown iTech HD 4 x3500HD and XTi amplifiers.
Pending structural work in the venue scheduled for October this year, the system is currently operating in a ground-stack configuration. Ultimately the full system will be flown, with additional processing and control via a BSS Soundweb system then integrated.
"All the work it took to get the system installed was immediately worth it as soon as it fired up, and we aren't even playing with all the toys yet! It truly took my breath away.” comments Jon.
Summing up he continues, "We're painfully aware of the challenges facing so many venues and we feel incredibly fortunate to be able to open. We are proud of our journey in continuing to support local live bands and in encouraging top acts to play here for the Guernsey audience."