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Martin Audio Longbow Systems’ Pyramid Effect At Glastonbury

RG Jones Sound Engineering provided Glastonbury Festival’s Pyramid Stage audio production for the third year in succession, after first working on the iconic stage in 2007 as suppliers of FOH and monitor control systems.

The south London-based company, the UK member of the Synco Europe Network, was lead contractor for the audio production. On the busiest weekend of the European festival calendar with over a million watts of Synco by Martin Audio line array hardware at festival stages across northern Europe, RG Jones brought in London neighbors Capital Sound to supply the left and right PA hangs, and co-designed a cardioid sub-bass array with a Martin Audio team headed by Jason Baird.

A total of 64 Martin Audio W8L Longbow cabinets were flown in 16-deep dual inner and outer main PA hangs per side, with an additional 64 W8LCs flown in four delay positions, all timed using SMAART.

Loudspeaker control was achieved via a rack of five XTA DP448 digital controllers, with Klark Teknik DN360 for the engineers’ ‘grab’ EQ.

The sub-bass array has been refined over the past two years, in conjunction with noise monitoring specialists RPS Planning & Development, to satisfy the complex requirements of providing full-on audience enjoyment while containing the sound in the Pyramid Stage arena, which holds up to around 100,000 people and is just 1100 meters (3,608 ft) from the village of Pilton.

54 Martin Audio WS218X subwoofers, powered by Crown Macrotech 12000s, were configured in a cardioid array, with its output electronically curved to cover the full width of the field, achieving impressive sub volumes and very even coverage to 120 meters (393 ft) out in the arena.

Jason Baird, Martin Audio’s R&D Director, has been involved with the Pyramid Stage system design since 2008 and comments that “this year’s design picks the best aspects of 2008 and 2009 to make 2010�. He adds: “The cardioid sub array is doing two things, the main one being the broadside array: by delaying the subs incrementally from the centre outwards you can bend the overall wave front, so it’s actually tuned to fit the shape of the Pyramid Stage field. And then a third of the subs face backwards in a cardioid configuration to kill the broadside array’s output on the stage itself.�

As in previous years noise containment was achieved partly by driving the upper four boxes in each of the four arrays from its own controller, which can then be turned down independently of the rest of the array should any problems noise spillage offsite arise, minimising impact on crowd sound levels.

Adds Baird: “We can make fine adjustments which have barely any effect on the sound in the field, but achieves the stated objective of reducing levels off site. That’s the reason the same system’s been used three years on the run, because of the great success in keeping both the crowd and the residents happy. It’s a real pleasure to work with the RG Jones team, and the Capital Sound guys too.�

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