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large shows to go well over 140 channels and consume 80-plus busses.” And Gordon emphasises


“Technology keeps moving and so do expectations and needs.”


James Gordon A Coda Audio system was used on Volbeat’s recent gig at Oslo Spektrum


tuning of PA systems much more precise. Digital consoles have become extremely powerful tools, although some would argue that many have not necessarily provided audio that is any more pleasing to the human ear than the old analogue mixers. Again, the quality of the audio technicians and engineers has, in general, improved in recent years as companies, manufacturers, colleges, and universities have improved the quality of their training.” Capital Sound provides


reinforcement for many major events including the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park (see box out below). General manager Paul Timmins comments: “Sound quality has improved although while


A revolutionary sound system and reoriented stage provided the perfect recipe for the AEG-Barclaycard British Summer Time festival at London’s Hyde Park, as Bon Jovi and the Rolling Stones kicked off the 10-day season attracting crowds of 65,000 people. Historically, Hyde Park


concerts have been dogged by offsite noise pollution leading to complaints from local residents and the need to reduce sound levels on site – meaning that the audience couldn’t hear the performances. So new tenants AEG/Loud Sound


26 January 2014


there were significant leaps forward during the ’80s and ’90s, I don’t see the leaps being huge since around 2000 when digital consoles started to become commonplace in live sound. “We are now working in an era of compromise where everyone wants smaller packaging to save transport costs for touring. The improvements in technology are seen mainly in these areas while maintaining audio quality. “The move to digital has enabled more consistent sound, especially at festivals where engineers can load up sessions onto consoles and ensure top level sound reproduction. Modern speaker systems – line array and multi-cellular – can give


NEW TECHNOLOGY CONQUERS HYDE PARK


adopted Martin Audio’s Multi-Cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) system to help solve the problem. Sculpted into the oak


shrubbery of the concept stage’s proscenium – the inspiration of set designers MDM working with Star Rigging – were left and right hangs of 16 MLA elements (with a single MLD Downfill box at the base). Outfills were provided by 12 MLA (and a single MLD each side) with eight pairs of the small-footprint Martin Audio W8LM Mini Line Arrays for front fills. The subwoofer cardioid


broadside array – made up of 32 MLX subs – is now a tried and trusted ‘electronic arc’ concept, with one back- facing enclosure for every two forward-facing ones providing cancellation at the rear. “The beauty of this design,” says Capital Sound’s Ian Colville, “is that you can adjust the horizontal dispersion and rear rejection electronically without needing to physically move anything.”


In addition, there were 10 delay masts. The front two arcs of four MLA masts each contained seven elements and a single MLD.


much more consistent coverage so everyone in the venue receives good sound rather than just the ones in the expensive seats!”


CLEAR POTENTIAL James Gordon, managing director at DiGiCo, says that the potential to provide quality audio at events has never been greater: “There are still challenges but new speaker technology and the arrival of digital consoles has played a key part in solution options. It is still important that engineers get the basics, like microphone position correct, but after that they can really use the options our consoles provide to lift and position the performance. Having that flexibility is an amazing opportunity.


“Digital consoles have


certainly played a key part in modern shows. When we launched the D5 it was a 96-channel console into 48 busses. For mid-size consoles, even 10 years on this is the standard quoted specification, but in reality it is too small and restrictive for where shows are going. Technology keeps moving and so do expectations and needs. “We are increasingly seeing the move to SD10, SD5, and SD7 where you can go beyond those decade- old channel and bus restrictions. Having the need to do so may seem over the top today but production sizes and expectations have increased greatly. It is now common for some of our


the ‘recording studio factor’: “Twenty years ago, investment in studios meant that they had the latest electronic technology compared to the less funded live sound sector. This changed significantly about 10 to 15 years ago when live sound converted into the best medium for artists to make revenue. This now means the advancements in live sound technology have accelerated past the studio developments. DiGiCo has invested into a new brand, DiGiGrid, which is taking the live sound advancements back into the studio in terms of audio quality, networking, and processing flexibility.” Phil Dudderidge, chairman of Focusrite, Soundcraft founder, and live sound engineer, has first- hand knowledge of the market, and stresses the importance of the human element – the skills of those at the controls. “The quality of the technological developments over the years enables the engineer to achieve outstanding results. Unfortunately, the engineer at the desk is often the weakest link, and sometimes because of a reluctance to pay for a true professional!” He continues: “Sound engineers are seriously undervalued; only paying someone £200 to mix a show


For the larger shows, two further delay towers at the back were enabled, made up of eight MLA Compacts. Critical distances were 50m (from FOH to stage), while


the delays were set at 90m (from the stage), 160m and 210m (for the MLA Compacts). www.capital-sound.co.uk www.martin-audio.com


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