Birmingham Conservatoire: State-of-the-art audio

Bowers & Wilkins has partnered with Birmingham Conservatoire in providing loudspeakers and amplifiers for their new state-of-the-art facilities. In this, the first of four blog posts, we will delve into the Conservatoire’s new home and the audio equipment responsible for raising the bar in academic research and education.

Founded in 1886 as the Birmingham School of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire (now part of Birmingham City University), has established itself as an internationally acclaimed musical institution, instrumental in nurturing the industry professionals of the future. In September 2017 the Conservatoire will be moving to brand new facilities in the city’s newly christened ‘learning quarter’ area making it, as described by Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal of the Conservatoire, ‘an exceptional new home for making music’.

The new facilities boast a variety of impressive purpose-designed teaching, rehearsal and performance spaces, which will redefine the Conservatoire’s already fantastic reputation. The space will house Birmingham’s only dedicated jazz club, a 500 seat concert hall, and practice and rehearsal rooms – 100 to be precise. And that’s not all: audio-visual interconnections will run throughout the building, while the seven industry standard recording studios will truly set apart the Conservatoire from others across the country.

‘In a classroom you need top-notch speakers, there have been many instances where speakers aren’t capable of filling the space, which is the bane of lecturing.’ – Christopher Dingle, Professor of Music – Birmingham Conservatoire

For three teaching classrooms of the building, Bowers & Wilkins has provided three pairs of CM6 S2 loudspeakers, along with three Rotel RA-1570 amplifiers. Christopher Dingle, Professor of Music at the Conservatoire and writer for BBC Music Magazine, is a firm believer in the reproduction of high quality audio and he was, coincidentally for this blog post and audio enthusiasts, the first person to review Blu-ray audio in the UK. Focussing mainly on academic research, one of his many areas of expertise at the Conservatoire is early recorded music. And speaking to myself earlier on the new loudspeakers provided by Bowers & Wilkins, he remarked that ‘students need to listen on the best equipment to train their ears, especially on old recordings to hear all of the musical detail’.

One may ask why CM6 loudspeakers were chosen for a lecture theatre setting. Tom Henderson, head of channel marketing and managing this project for Bowers & Wilkins commented that ‘the CM6 is the only standmount within the CM Series to feature Tweeter On Top technology – this ensures absolute audio precision from the most compact cabinet – perfect for when it comes to listening to and analysing music’.

Next month’s blog in this series will explore the Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers used in the Conservatoire’s new and sophisticated industry standard mastering studios.

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