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Capital Sound takes MLA to the ’80s

Following a successful week of gigs in Hyde Park this summer, Capital Sound went on to deploy a Martin Audio MLA rig at the Rewind festival where offsite noise was once again a concern of local residents.

Following a successful week of gigs in Hyde Park this summer, Capital Sound went on to deploy a Martin Audio MLA rig at another festival where offsite noise was an issue with local residents.

The 80s Rewind Festival at Remenham Farm outside Henley-on-Thames once again saw a representative from acoustic consultant Vanguardia, Jim Griffiths, monitoring loudness levels carefully throughout the August weekend event: a task that is particularly critical when four local councils are involved in granting Rewind’s licence.

Rewind caters purely for those who want to celebrate and relive the ‘golden age’ of ‘80s new wave pop and the like: hence the two-day line-up is crammed with the likes of ABC, Go West (lead singer Peter Cox is pictured), Billy Ocean (below), Nik Kershaw, Belinda Carlisle and more.

Speaking to PSNEurope a few days after the festival, Capital Sound’s senior project manager Martin Connolly reports that all was well. “We had 102, 103dB peaks during Kim Wilde on Saturday night, with the system running at 98dB Leq15 – but Jim said we had a couple of dB to play with offsite,” says Connolly. The positioning of the main stage was an angle of 30 degrees different from other years, following an incident in 2012 where the wind blew the festival sound directly into Henley town a couple of miles down the road (and of course, people complained). The relocation of the stage was not unlike the approach promoter AEG took to reducing noise nuisance in Hyde Park, in fact.

“This year the wind was blowing towards the Rewind bands,” explains Connolly. “With the new positioning, and the favourable atmospherics, and of course the extra control that the MLA system gives you, we were very happy with the outcome.”

“I just wish we’d done this sooner!” he adds.

Connolly suggests that the Martin Audio Multicellular Loudspeaker Array system is proving invaluable to his hire company at arena shows and outdoor gig. “We’re definitely thinking we need to pursue more of it,” he says, adding that Cap Sound is looking at shedding some of its older inventory in order to invest in additional MLA boxes.

When asked about its appeal, Connolly remarks that it’s not the way the audio coverage “drops off” at the edge of a specified programmed soundfield that impresses him about MLA technology. “That drop-off is mainly in the HF, which is not what carries – it’s the mids that carry.

“No, I like the steerability, and the ‘Hard Avoid’ feature. At Rewind, there were a couple of large objects in the audience area which couldn’t be removed – so we just used Hard Avoid to adjust the coverage so there was no slapback off those objects.”

Next challenge for Capital Sound will be a series of gigs at Kenwood House, where, once again, neighbours will kick up a fuss if noise is not managed properly. “But MLA makes the job so much easier,” says Connolly.

(Dave Robinson)
(Photos: Helen Aitchison)