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Martin Audio MLA rocks 02 Academy Brixton

Martin Audio’s Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array tames bouncing sound waves at the former cinema for rock hero assemblage Chickenfoot, writes Erica Basnicki.

The 02 Academy Brixton’s infamous deep balcony failed to fox the sound team at a recent gig by US ‘supergroup’ Chickenfoot, featuring members of Van Halen and Red Hot Chili Peppers. FOH engineer Michael ‘Ace’ Baker, Martin Audio’s Jason Baird and system tech, Mark Edwards, employed the acclaimed MLA (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array) system to notch out that section of the coverage pattern in the dedicated optimisation software. The result was “plain to hear, with an obvious reduction in reflections off that deep balcony front.” The Chickenfoot concert – which saw Van Halen’s Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony joining forces with axe legend Joe Satriani and Chilis drummer Chad Smith – marked the MLA’s 02 Academy Brixton debut. Martin Audio launched the MLA series in 2010, as previously reported by PSNE editor Dave Robinson. The multi-cellular format has six individual cells in each enclosure, up to 24 enclosures per array, each with its own DSP and amplification. Users can input the dimensions of a venue into the proprietary Display2 software to direct individual cells within each array (up to 144) to produce a consistent sound throughout the performance space. VU-NET software provides real-time control and monitoring of the system. The reduction in reflections bouncing back on stage was especially attractive to engineer Baker, who had been anxious to use the MLA series since seeing a demo in Las Vegas last summer: “That’s what got me so excited. Initially, all that computer stuff looked like something I wouldn’t be able to handle, but then Mark showed me how simple it was — all you need to be able to do is measure correctly and you are done. The drag and drop approach to loading the optimisation is as transparent as it could possibly be and at Brixton I was surprised how little room interaction there was. Overall, I was extremely pleased with the sound. “There are a lot of good systems out there but only a few have been truly groundbreaking; right now this is the one that has everyone talking about it, “he continues. “There will be a lot of touring ahead this year and MLA is the system I want to use from now on.”