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When Mexican singer/songwriter Juan Gabriel had to interrupt his U.S. “Volver 2014” tour for two weeks due to illness, his engineering staff prevailed upon 3G Productions to switch over to a Martin Audio MLA system for the remaining arena dates.
As 3G’s System Engineer Manny Perez describes the changeover, “The other system was working just fine, but Juan’s FOH Engineer Rodrigo Lopez had attended an MLA demo in Mexico and was really interested to see how it would perform.”
Gabriel, an internationally acclaimed Latin American musician who’s sold over 100 million albums, resumed the second leg of his sold-out tour at Miami’s American Airlines Arena, which presented some challenges of its own.
According to Perez, “As soon as I walked into the arena, their staff expressed concerns that they’d been having trouble covering the top rows of the nosebleed section for the last few shows and had to provide refunds. We assured them that we had it covered and the show would sound great everywhere. Then we put the MLA system up and tuned it really quickly even though it was a big rig designed to provide 270-degree coverage. Rodrigo, the band’s music consultant and I all walked the room from top to bottom and front to back, and there were absolutely no problems in terms of coverage and balanced sound.”
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The 270-degree system for American Airlines Arena consisted of a main hang with 32 MLA and 4 MLD; side hangs with 36 MLA Compacts; a third hang with 24 MLA Compacts; 10 ground-stacked MLX subs, and 4 DD12s on the front of the stage for front-fill to the first six rows.
Describing the system in greater detail Manny points out, “The ratio of MLX to the rest of the system seems a bit light, but Rodrigo didn’t want a bass-heavy mix for the show because of all the acoustic instruments and high end frequencies. Also, we were using the new two-way DD12 powered speakers from Martin Audio for the first time and they’re really good. I would usually have to do a lot of cleaning up with EQ because they’re positioned so close to the subs, but they didn’t need a thing. The DD12s throw further than we needed them to and were more than perfect for what they had to do.”
The rest of the system consists of SSL and Avid Profile consoles for FOH and monitors, LM44 Lake processing, Smaart 7 software, Shure UFH-RD wireless and DPA microphones.
Asked about mixing on MLA, Rodrigo Lopez responds, “For me, it’s definitely the best speaker out there with more control of the sound and how it projects to the audience. The system provides the same amount of sound pressure and coverage from the front seat to the back with correct phasing throughout the arena.
“It’s been perfect for the tour,” Lopez continues. “The audience hears exactly what I’m getting out of the console. It’s challenging with Juan Gabriel because he’s playing with a lot of Mariachi and there are a lot of acoustic instruments that don’t have as much power. But with MLA, the audience can hear all of those instruments clearly, as if the musicians are playing right in front of them.”
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Summing up, Perez adds, “I like the MLA’s clarity and imaging which is amazing when you pan the percussion and keyboards left to right. The speakers sound 30 feet wide where the sound moves across the space. The high end and high mids for vocals and snares are so clear; you can really hear the sizzle of the snare bottoms and high hats.
“A lot of people keep telling me how MLA is a really smooth, natural-sounding system that’s very satisfying to the ear. The staff and production crew, Juan’s musicians and his music consultant are stoked. Everybody really likes it which has been a real plus for the tour.”
Photo credit: Robert Hacman www.roberthacman.com
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About Martin Audio®
Founded by audio engineer David Martin in 1971, Martin Audio pioneered the use of all-horn-loaded bass designs in world-class touring loudspeaker systems for groups such as Pink Floyd, ELP and Supertramp. Located outside of London, Martin Audio now embodies a sophisticated mix of acoustic design, research, mathematical modeling and software engineering for a wide range of products in the installation, cinema and touring sound markets.