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A Field Day for MLA

Hackney’s Victoria Park recently staged three separate festivals across one weekend presenting Martin Audio with the opportunity to present its Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) to the great outdoors, writes Paul Watson.

Capital Sound accommodated a trio of festivals at Hackney’s Victoria Park over one weekend last month using Martin Audio’s Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) and W8LC Line Array systems. Underage and Field Day (pictured) staged performances by artists such as Devlin, Bombay Bicycle Club and CocknBullKid; and the inaugural Apple Cart festival mixed music, comedy, art and magic into its billing. The events saw Capital Sound return to the park alongside event management company Loud Sound and production company LarMac LIVE, with the same system they had fielded for the LED festival a few weeks earlier. Emulating the rig design for the LED event, the main hangs of 16 MLA and one MLD downfill per side accompanied 15 front facing MLX subs and seven rear facing in a combined broadside/cardioid array. These were delay curved to provide a horizontal dispersion of 110° to cover the entire field. Crew from Capital Sound and Martin Audio set presets that would comfortably reassure environmental acoustics experts, Vanguardia, that the sound would not bleed beyond the site perimeter of the increasingly popular festival site, which is bordered on one side by trees, a canal and residential properties. The presets upheld the ability to retain a threshold of 98dB-100dB (Leq), measured over a 15-minute period. “A number of MLA filter optimisations were done to cover from 65-100 metres so we had settings that would allow us to dial in where we wanted coverage to stop,” says Martin Audio’s development manager, Phil Anthony. “We ended up with a coverage depth of about 85m in conjunction with exceptionally consistent SPL and frequency response.” Martin Audio W8LC Compact Line Array elements provided outfills and a delay position 60 metres back, while two further hangs were flown on the Friday night in the 6,000 capacity second tent – the main showcase arena for Underage. Capital Sound’s general manager, Paul Timmins, said his team learnt a lot more about the MLA’s outdoor performance during its summer evaluation. “Taking it into Victoria Park has been extremely useful and we have been able to give audiences a different experience,” he said. “The event manager said the MLA sounded fantastic and that the situation with both the offsite noise and levels at FOH were exactly as they wanted. Most productions working there in the past have struggled to meet offsite criteria.”