Britannia Row Productions supplied an L-Acoustics-based sound reinforcement set-up for the 2015 Mobo Awards, at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, on 4 November.
"As a live event direct to broadcast, the creation of an exciting and vibrant atmosphere within the venue is essential, and how it sounds is a big part of creating that atmosphere," comments the event's production manager, Rob Smalldon, who has worked on the Mobos (Music of Black Origin) for the past 10 years. "Since my first one, I’ve worked with Britannia Row – they did a great job then and they’ve never let me down since. The thing is, they understand the show, they understand the multi-performance format so well and they know that for the Mobos, perhaps more than any comparable show, it needs to be nice and loud, Britrow surpasses both the audience and performers’ expectations."
"We put in L-Acoustics K1 mains left and right," continues Britannia Row's crew chief, John Gibbon. "With Kara beneath the mains and a large hang of K2 to the sides, it’s quite a beefy system. But we place just 12 SB28 subs. As a TV show, and with tables on the floor, you can’t put in an arrayed sub system, just a small stack out of the camera sightlines beneath each main hang. We don’t want to rattle the cameras or the dinner plates, so to keep the low end energy in the room we rely a lot on the 15” speakers in the K1.”
Mark Kennedy, who regularly mixes for Faithless, was the front-of-house engineer. "I did the live artists; the audience sound for the MCs and VT is managed by system tech Craig Ross," he explains. "Most of the live artists perform to playback or partial playback, but FKA Twigs [pictured] was totally live, so there’s great variety. I mix from a Digidesign D-Show, which is more than good enough functionally for the demands of this show. Although all the artists want a loud show you are limited by what is tolerable before you encounter camera shake. That said, we don’t roll off anything above 30Hz – that just wouldn’t be acceptable with the focus on grime these days – so in rehearsals I play it as loud as I can until they complain, then roll it back one or two dB.”
"For our first time at the First Direct Arena, Britrow did a really great job of supporting us," says Smalldon. "There are all kinds of questions coming at you all the time on a show like this – we got sight of some of the band requirements quite late on– yet the Britrow guys deal with that. They see what it is, make a judgment and react. On the show day, when you consider the outside broadcast element that had to be accommodated and the controlled chaos of multiple trucks coming and going, to manage the equipment for each distinct live performance as they did was outstanding. It all went very smoothly.
"The equipment and technology improves every year and I have to say this was certainly the best year ever."