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MLA Provides Quick-Fire Solution for SAS’s Nat Hopking
UK – Stage Audio Services (SAS) 15-year-long relationship with the Shambala Festival in Market Harborough continued over this year’s August Bank Holiday weekend, but with something of a difference.
While they again deployed the full-sized Martin Audio MLA that they had acquired in time for last year’s event, the festival coincided with the birth of system engineer/crew chief Nat Hopking’s daughter Mila. This necessitated giving colleague Phil Warwick a crash course in MLA technology before he raced back to welcome his new-born. “I literally set up the system, put the presets into the Preset Loader and having done a training session, handed over to Phil at FOH. He picked it up really quickly and I was able to leave the site by 2pm.” Fortunately, Martin Audio’s DISPLAY optimisation software is extremely intuitive.
During the daytime there may only be several hundred people present for the early family entertainment but when the headliners appear the arena is full. “So we set the presets in ten-metre increments of 60m, 50m and 40m throws, although the full size MLA will throw over 200m, which is mental,” added Hopking. “The size of the crowd at any given time dictated the preset he used.”
As with last year SAS fielded eight elements of MLA per side, this system having taken over from the smaller MLA Compact the previous year. “I loved the MLA Compact but for a large outdoor festival, there is a superior low-mid response in the larger system.”
Ten MLX subs in five stacks of two, firing forward, were spaced across the front, with 1.2m space between each. On stacks 1, 3 and 5, pairs of MLA Compact were placed to provide lip fills.
As for the optimisations, presets complied with the measurements set by site acousticians SPLtrack. “As we were in a wide-open field there was no need to use Hard Avoid other than at the stage,” he continued. “This provides such good rear cancellation and you can get so much gain before feedback by using the Hard Avoid setting and using Martin Audio’s multicellular technology as lip fill.” He said the organisers were once again delighted with the quality of the sound. “There have never been any issues with the sound since we have started using MLA,” concluded the SAS man, whose crew also included Chris McGuinness at the stage end.
As for the event itself, which saw around 15,000 people on site each day, promoters Bristol-based Kambe Events continued its policy of being an ethical, family friendly event and as environmentally sustainable as possible for the audience and 200 or so diverse artists, bands and DJs who play over the weekend. This year, they included Idles, Henge, BCUC, The Comet Is Coming, JP Bimeni & The Black Belts, Rozi Plain, Moonlight Benjamin, Marcus Gad & Tribe, Debashish Bhattacharya, The Fullee Love Collective, Melissa Laveaux, Saul Williams, Electric Swing Circus, Sister Nancy, The Age Of L.U.N.A, and many more.
MLA is now not only established at Shambala but SAS recently converted another boutique festival to MLA. Run by dairy farmer Peter Nosworthy, Nozstock: the Hidden Valley takes place on his farm in Bromyard, Herefordshire (the theme this year being ‘Wizard of Noz’). “Thanks to me MLA was on duty at Nozstock for the first time, and it was a massive success,” Nat Hopking reports. The festival featured a number of dance-based acts, including Rudimental and Soul II Soul. “In fact we were operating the PA at 105dB for Rudimental, which sounded amazing,” he reports.
3rd October 2019
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