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MLA Compact debuts with Chris Rea

Long-time Chris Rea engineer Simon Honywill of RG Jones Sound Engineering “couldn’t wait” to test out the compact new system for last two dates of the artists’ tour.

RG Jones Sound Engineering, who was first UK rental company to purchase Martin Audio’s MLA (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array), has chalked up another first this month, debuting Martin Audio’s MLA Compact for Chris Rea’s recent tour. “I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new system,” said RG Jones engineer Simon Honywill. Together with system engineer Mark Edwards, the new PA was swapped in for Rea’s last two tour dates — at the Pavilions in Plymouth, and at the HMV Apollo Hammersmith, where the system had been formally launched last month. Honywill and Edwards, along with Martin Audio R&D director Jason Baird, repurposed the system for the larger Hammersmith show. The impact, according to Honywill, was “unbelievable,” The optimisation at Hammersmith involved notching the balcony out in the software to remove unwanted reflections and, Honywill explained, “Mark and Jason worked on the EQ curve and played with the sub alignment so that the system was everything I had hoped it would be.” “In Plymouth we used a broadside array of 12 DSX subs in four cardioid cells under the stage apron, but this isn’t possible in Hammersmith so we went for a left/right cardioid stack of six subs a side and tweaked the crossover between the subs and the MLA Compact to get a really rich, smooth low end with real punch,” he added. Four Martin Audio W8LM mini arrays were ground stacked under the two main PA hangs of 12 MLA Compact elements, where they were able to draw down the image at the front while decreasing the physical profile of the stacked system. “In the past the ground stacks have looked a little imposing with the subs and W8LC, but the ability of the system to generate seamless coverage from wherever you tell it to start and finish allowed us to get the energy we wanted into both downstairs and upstairs – the ground stacks are just to keep the sonic image down on stage for those at the front,” said Honywill. Honywill has piloted Chris Rea shows for the last 15 years, using Martin Audio systems to reinforce the artist’s sound — generally 16 x W8LC Compact Line Arrays per side and 16 WLX subs. “MLA is vastly superior to anything on the market and this system provides a great neutral platform to mix on,” he said.