Described as an audio graveyard for sound designers, the ballroom at the Novotel Hammersmith presented no such pitfalls for Manchester-based VME when they were asked to provide sound reinforcement for the recent 2013 TPi (Total Production International) Awards.
“Everyone has had a crack at it, and this time it was our turn,” said VME director Dion Davie. “We knew that performing in front of all our industry peers would be challenging.”
VME were early adopters of Martin Audio’s MLA platform, and turned to an MLA Compact solution for the main arena, rigging six elements on either side of the stage which were used in tandem with an additional four providing a central hang to ensure good, even coverage over a very wide area. This arced out into the banquet room, where Lauren Laverne presented this year’s awards.
The array was underpinned by four DSX subs, while Martin Audio X12+’s were used as outfills, discreetly hidden behind the LED screens that formed the set to provide coverage at the tables that fell slightly off-axis from the arrays. Martin Audio DD6’s were used as stage front fills and foldback due to their compact size and innovative differential dispersion horn.
There was also a low-level area at the rear for which VME also provided reinforcement. “The trick was to get the two MLA Compact arrays and distributed systems syncing up seamlessly with each other,” said Davie. Fortunately three Martin Audio DX2 (4-in 8-out) dedicated management systems provided all DSP necessary. System tech Mark Edwards used Smaart software to time align the entire system; when the presenter moved from the main stage to the smaller B stage, an alternative snapshot was recalled from the DX2’s to reconfigure the system.
“We knew the MLA Compact would cover the main area, and mapped the room on the MLA [Display v2.1] software to achieve the optimization,” said Dion Davie.
VME’s Ben Hyman project managed the event, Steve Brierley mixed the sound and Martin Shaw, assisted by Mark Edwards and Martin Audio’s Nigel Meddemmen, were system techs.
Hyman stated, “The two main requirements for the system were coverage and clarity — particularly at the back — ensuring that every person, no matter where they were sat, could hear the audio at the right level. And we certainly achieved that.”
Dion Davie added, “Guests were absolutely gobsmacked by the sound quality for the first time in the history of the event. Judging from the number of calls it was an outstanding success and we feel we have set a benchmark.”
Ben Chadwick, Event Manager at organizers, Mondiale Publishing, agreed. "We got the sound absolutely right this year. Because of ceiling height variations it's a tricky room to provide even coverage with high intelligibility, but we completely nailed it.”
For more about Martin Audio, please click to www.martin-audio.com.
About MLA™ (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array)
The result of many years of intensive R&D, MLA’s methodology replaces trial-and-error array design with intelligent numerical optimization of the array’s output based on a highly accurate acoustic model. The multi-cellular format has six individual cells in each enclosure, each with its own DSP and amplification.
With up to 24 enclosures, each MLA array has up to 144 cells -- too great a number to optimize manually, or by ear. Instead, Martin Audio’s proprietary Display2™ system design software automatically calculates FIR DSP filters for each cell and a redundant-ring audio network (U-NET™) downloads the settings into each array enclosure. Martin Audio’s VU-NET™ software provides real-time control and monitoring of the system.
MLA delivers a frequency response and SPL consistency never before achievable; a very high system output (140dB peak, per cabinet @1m); Automatic optimization of the array, both physically (splay angles) and electronically (DSP); Computer control and monitoring of the entire system, and total control of sound system balance for engineers and sound technicians.
MLA is fully integrated, with Class D amplification, DSP and U-NET digital audio
network built into each enclosure. MLA complete systems are ready-to-use, with MLA, MLD and MLX enclosures, flying hardware, software, cabling and training all supplied. Everything needed is included. All ancillary items—from tablet PC and Merlin™ controller to network interconnects and mains distro—are also included in the complete system package. This ensures full compatibility worldwide, down to cabling and accessories.
Additional features include 90° x 7.5° dispersion; a compact size (1136mm wide x 372mm high x 675mm deep), one-box-fits-all (festivals to theaters) application range and a global voltage, power factor corrected power supply.
MLA’s compact size and very high output allows it to be shipped using smaller trucks, offering considerable savings and reduced carbon footprint. The system also includes the MLX powered, flyable subwoofer capable of an unprecedented measured peak output of 150dB @ 1m; MLD downfill cabinet, and Merlin 4-in/10-out system controller and network hub. Audio input is via analog, AES3 or U-NET.
By adopting these principles and system components MLA is optimized for every member of the audience — from a 2,000 capacity theater, to a 20,000-seat arena, to a 100,000-person festival site. It will deliver the engineer’s exact mix to every seat (up to over 150 meters) with precision, exceptional power and clarity.
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.