Tony Andrews is woven into the history of Glastonbury. The Funktion-One founder took charge of the sound at the very first Glastonbury (Pilton Festival) in 1971 and can be plotted at key moments over the decades. In recent years, he’s been getting his kicks from the more experimental side of the festival.
The Glade – with its free-spirited ethos – has been the grassy, sometimes sun-drenched real-life lab for Funktion-One’s adventures in ambisonic surround sound. This year, however, Andrews decided it was time for Glastonbury to experience Vero for the first time.
Funktion-One called on long-term partner Audio Plus – currently celebrating its 25th year – to supply the audio infrastructure and crew, including company owner Stefan Imhof, patch and DJ tech Dan Hull, monitor engineer Phil Couch, and FOH/systems engineer Kris Hayes. The loudspeaker manufacturer was also out in force, with design engineers Mike Igglesden and James Hipperson joining Andrews. XTA’s Richard Fleming was also on hand, overseeing the first deployment of the company’s new DSP-enabled console switching system – the MX36.
The main sound system comprised left and right Vero hangs featuring seven enclosures per side – three V315s, two V90s and two V60s – together with an asymmetric bass setup consisting of a two wide/six high block of F124s stage left and a stack of four F221s stage right. The system was powered by Lab.gruppen PLM20K44 amps.
Hipperson explained: “Stacked F124s intrinsically have very strong directivity at the upper end of their operating range. The rear rejection was extended below 50Hz with rear-facing F221s in a gradient configuration. This reduced bass levels on stage as well as ensuring the system was virtually inaudible over the general site noise in the adjacent areas behind the stage.”
The fill system around the relay screen which serviced the overspill area featured Evo 7Ts with Evo 7THs (for enhanced mid/highs) and F221 bass enclosures. It could be turned on or off, depending on the size of the crowd. Most of the mixing was done on a Cadac Six, with a DiGiCo SD10 on standby for engineers using show files. Whenever required, XTA’s MX36 console switching system was used for seamless changeovers.
Discussing the setup, Andrews said: “For the last four years we did The Glade with ambisonics. It was interesting but a little sporadic, as we’re always reliant on performers giving us material that takes advantage of the multi-point system. With Vero, we’re getting more dimension out of big stereo than surround sound, so we went for it.”
Glastonbury gave Andrews and the team an opportunity to implement crossover filter discoveries made during the development of Vero VX. “VX opened the door to a new level of sophistication,” said Andrews. “We were able to apply some of the work we’ve done on filters with VX to Vero. It’s the best I’ve ever heard it.” The result was appreciated by Area Coordinator of Avalon, Glade and The Wood, Luke Piper, who reflected: “I was overjoyed with the new system – it surpassed all expectations. We quadrupled the normal capacity of the venue up to 20,000, with people dancing right at the back of the crowd to Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim and Squarepusher. Here it sounded just as good as at the front with a full range, solid, clear and real bottom end, and great midrange separation. Vero is a very real non-synthetic, alive sounding system that’s perfect for live and electronic acts alike. It’s the best system I’ve ever worked with.”
For Igglesden, this was his most enjoyable Glade experience yet: “Carl Cox’s four-hour set was one of those iconic Glastonbury moments. Our decision to move away from experimenting with ambisonics gave us a new opportunity to deliver a larger, wider stereo sound. The flown Vero system provided the most open and even coverage dancefloor I have ever experienced.”
Hipperson was particularly impressed with Vero’s percussive capabilities. He said: “Live drums on Vero put smiles on everyone’s faces – staggering power and transient impact. Similarly, even when mixing large and hectic bands it was never a struggle to get vocals to cut through the mix with clarity and authority.”
Audio Plus’s Stefan Imhof said: “The audience reaction to Vero combined with the F124 bass stack was special. On the first day, we had a short amount of time to test the system. We started playing some test tracks and noticed the crowd started to engage straight away, cheering and clapping after each track and when we finished, we got a huge round of applause.
“I could tell that the audience knew they were in for something special from Vero and that’s exactly what was delivered. I have heard so many great comments from artists and audience alike. It’s nice to provide something different to the other stages. This is why I run an audio company and provide the sound I have believed in for so many years.”
Andrews clearly enjoyed the experience: “The sound was stunning, as good as I’ve ever heard – so clear and effortless. In less than 24 hours, I got to engineer Fatboy Slim and Carl Cox. The system was so responsive – I was able to beam in on the vocals, sometimes just using a third of a dB and it was bringing the voice up. It was running so even without any system EQ.”
Toby Burrow, FOH engineer for Grouch In Dub, concluded: “My artist – Grouch In Dub – features huge dub bass-lines (often saturated and complex waveforms), psychedelic high frequency wizardry combined with live violin, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, guitar and vocal. The Vero system on The Glade stage at Glastonbury was set up and tuned wonderfully well. The boxes allowed me to get my mix together quickly with very little EQ (compared to normal) on the instrument and vocal mics. In our show we have a combination of complex effects coming from stage and FOH, I found the Vero running at a high SPL had enough dynamic range to allow me to build depth in my mix, even in sections where there is a lot of FX going on. I took the time after the show to listen to a few other artists from the dancefloor and the stereo image was incredible. I look forward to getting to rinse Vero again in the future.”
We also recently caught up with Tony Andrews and fellow co-founder John Newsham on the possibilities of immersive sound, which you can find here.