o2 Arena - IOA Half Day Visit

8th April 2009

Wednesday 11th March and Tuesday 7th April saw the first of a series of half day visits to what has officially become the world’s most popular music venue, the O2 Arena. Hosted by Vanguardia’s Jim Griffiths and Mark Murphy, the tour began on the lower tier seating, where the results of the extensive acoustic absorption were immediately apparent. The combination of seating, wall, balcony front and roof absorption have resulted in a relatively dead space, with an RT of around 1.8 seconds, often not associated a venue of this size (20,000 seats). Upper tier bass traps control frequencies down to 40Hz, while rear wall & door absorption in the open hospitality boxes reduce radial reflections back into the arena.

The tour continued to the PAVA amplifier rack rooms and onto the arena control room, where the TPU and back of house paging is operated. A fascinating walk up onto the gantry gave a unique view of the venue below. Central Sub Loudspeaker arrays and amps could be clearly seen positioned around the main screen, as could the in-house delay system – four JBL Vertec line array clusters designed to provide extra coverage to the upper tier at the rear of the arena.

Following the tour was an informative presentation from Mark Murphy, detailing the venues acoustic features and design process both for architectural acoustics and the installed sound system. Greenwich Council’s John Patterson also discussed the environmental impact, and how pleased they are with the near inaudibility outside the O2, even with music levels approaching the agreed limit of 104dB(A) inside.

It was refreshing to see a venue where the owners and architects have followed the advice of its acoustic engineers, rather than cutting costs for economic reasons - reflected in the success of the venue and the continual praise from audience, musicians and sound engineers alike. Vanguardia will be hosting a third tour in September. Please contact the IOA office for details.