The beautiful surroundings of the Royal Botanic Gardens in south-west London (better known as Kew Gardens) provided the backdrop for the facility’s annual six-day music festival, cleverly dubbed as Kew The Music. For the past five years, rental company, Capital Sound, and its loudspeaker partner, Martin Audio, have provided sound for the popular summer event.
Working with promoter Stuart Galbraith from Kilimanjaro Live and LarMac Live director Ian Greenway, Capital Sound again fielded Martin Audio’s award-winning MLA for audiences of 8,000 who arrived to see headliners including Lewis Capaldi, Rick Astley, Garbage, Craig David and Billy Ocean. To provide balanced audio coverage, Capital had to take into account an awkwardly long, thin site, tapering off from a wider field at the stage end.
Capital now has the speaker design down to a fine art, flying 10 MLA Compact elements each side of the stage, with a ground stack of four MLA Compact infilling at stage right and stage left to serve the picnickers out on those flanks. Four Martin Audio DD12s across the stage provided nearfield coverage for those who wanted to get up close and personal with the broadside cardioid array, which comprised 14 x WS218X subwoofers.
Several delay points were set, the first mast off to house left comprising 10 x MLA Compact. Further down the park at 65m from the mix position a second delay comprised of an MLA Mini stack/MSX sub combination, and 60m beyond that was a further ground-stack of MLA Mini stack/MSX sub. This counteracted the effect of the shadows caused by the trees further back.
Once again, sound optimisation via Martin Audio’s proprietary DISPLAY software platform was in the hands of Chris Pyne, who doubled his duties between system tech and FOH tech.
Appealing to a more mature demographic, with picnics and folding chairs as important as the music itself, the imperative was to allow the audience to experience the artists as they would expect to on their sound systems at home. “We know they can rely on clarity and full frequency sound with MLA,” said Capital account manager, Martin Connolly.
Summing up the event, Ian Greenway commented: “Over a five-year period we have developed a successful formula at this historic location with the help of Capital Sound and Martin Audio’s unique PA. It’s important that we are able to not only respect the heritage of Kew Gardens, but at the same time create a coherent sound across what is an awkwardly shaped site to provide a peerless listening experience for the audience.
“The ability of the PA to shape the sound coverage we want, coupled with the expertise of the Capital team to optimise the system, has once again enabled us to do that.”
In addition to Chris Pyne at FOH, the team he referred to included Tim Patterson (crew chief) and Nick Cook (monitor engineer).
Martin Audio managing director, Dom Harter, had the final word. “When a historic venue such as Kew Gardens puts on an event, only the best is good enough, so to have been asked to deliver this for five years is a real testament to the work Capital Sound and their MLA systems can do,” he said. “Their skill and knowledge, combined with our technology, has ensured that they have been able to cater to the needs of a challenging site to deliver our signature sound, consistency and control to the whole audience.”