UK: PF Events flew its flagship NCA I-Fly PA system in a 180-degree dispersion stereo central array at Wembley recently, writes Dave Robinson. It marked the first time such an arrangement, only mapped out on paper before, had been put into practical use.
The occasion occurred when Noise Control Audio stockist PF was booked to supply sound at Wembley Arena for cross borough event "Culture 8". Event management West 8 specified that they needed 180-degree dispersion in order to cover the tiered side seating directly left and right of the stage and also provide a stereo image. Minimal visual presence was required and budgeting was also quite tight.
Direct consultation with NCA system designer Reay Grant resulted in a solution that that previously had only been theoretical. Reay comments, "A classic two hangs would have been expensive and only provided stereo image to those forward of the stage. The nature and beauty of point source relating different sections of the audience to separate drops of the array meant that by splitting consecutive drops to the left and right mix gave a perceived stereo image to the entire audience.
"Visual presence is massively reduced by the hang being only two boxes deep, one mid high and one mid bass; this allowed the system to be hung entirely above the lighting rig. Throw to the high outer seating is easily covered by the large horns used in the system and its built in downward dispersion bias meant that reflection from the ceiling was unperceived at the same time as excellent downward coverage, minimising the use of fills for the area directly in front of the stage."
Event management and sound engineers were reported to have been equally impressed with the results. Brandon Knights, FOH engineer for Soul II Soul, said "Reay Grant's innovative and effective sound design really made the arena come to life with probably the best stereo imaging I've ever heard there."
Robin Collings, Culture8 production manager added, "Once again congratulations to Noise Control for a detailed and very full sounding event_ We all thought it was a bit risky placing the whole thing in the centre but it sounded absolutely amazing! I imagine Wembley be using that configuration again."
Noise Control's Grant says the I-Fly system was designed from conception to be capable of wide dispersion arrays. "Fly frames and boxes can be added to increase dispersion to the point where a complete 360 degrees is achieved with a hang 18 boxes round. Throw is increased by adding to the depth of the hang."