In addition to raising the specification for visiting sound crews, the objective was to make the Astoria's infrastructure more broadcast and TV-friendly, including the addition of a new 48-way patchbay, according to long-time resident technician Erik Sanderson-Evans.
LA 1, the main performance venue which has a capacity of nearly 2,500, takes delivery of a Soundcraft Series FIVE (48 channel plus 4 stereo groups) plus a Soundcraft 324 digital mixer for returning the effects, an A.S.S. loudspeaker system, as well as a substantial batch of BSS proprietary processing equipment. A new 44:24 Soundcraft Series FIVE Monitor console is added to the stage monitoring system.
"Our intention was to gut LA1 completely and move some of the more serviceable equipment into our second room, LA2," explained Erik, who put together the audio specification.
He explained the choice of new consoles for the venue. "With the bands that play at the Astoria, we see engineers at every level, from the most inexperienced 'mates of the band' right up to the best in the world. For front-of-house we needed to specify a large console that was also a walk-up board, which had ergonomics that everybody could understand and operate within a few minutes.
"Although the Soundcraft front-of-house and monitor desks have that distinctive British sound, they have clearly had a lot of input into their design from engineers on both sides of the Atlantic. The muting does exactly what it says on the box, and there is very high visibility in terms of operational features.
"From the venue engineer's point of view, the PSUs have been redesigned for the better, and they're very easy for maintenance.".
LA1's existing Soundcraft Europa console is moved downstairs to the 1200-capacity club venue LA2, where Erik's colleague Rick Hart is in charge of the audio. The Europa replaces a Soundcraft 8000 which has survived many years of hard duty, despite being thrown off the balcony in LA1 during a riot: "Soundcraft consoles seem to deal very well with the high humidity and additional wildlife in LA2!"
Soundcraft consoles supplied and installed by Marquee Audio.