Soundworks and Southward Audio first to acquire Martin Audio WPL system

The companies operate an interrelationship in the Middle Atlantic region, and both purchased Martin Audio systems that included 24 WPL cabinets, 12 SXH218 hybrid subs and 12 iK42 amps
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Left to right: Grant Howard, Steve Payne, Soundworks; Mike Southard, Jason Misterka, Southard Audio

Left to right: Grant Howard, Steve Payne, Soundworks; Mike Southard, Jason Misterka, Southard Audio

Martin Audio’s new Wavefront Precision Longbow (WPL) system was recently purchased by Soundworks in Richmond, VA and Southard Audio in Mount Crawford, VA, the first live event production companies in the world to acquire the line array.

Both companies, which have a cooperative interrelationship within the Middle Atlantic region, purchased Martin Audio systems that included 24 WPL cabinets, 12 SXH218 hybrid subs and 12 iK42 amps.

Officially launched at ISE 2019 in Amsterdam, WPL is designed as a complete system with external iKON multi-channel amplifiers, automated DISPLAY optimisation software and VU-NET control platform, provided at a reasonable price. A three-way, bi-amped system, WPL’s high output is achieved by utilising Martin Audio’s horn-loading technology across all frequency bands, increasing the acoustic output of the low frequency section as well as the midrange and HF.

Commenting on the process behind his decision to commit to WPL, Soundworks founder and CEO Steve Payne explained: “Soundworks and Southard Audio have worked closely together since 1990 and we’d both been using the same model line array system since Mike and I decided early on not to compete with but support one another.

“Not long ago, we reached the point where we needed to upgrade our main line array system and auditioned a lot of different companies. As part of the process, I asked my friend Brad Stephens, a representative for Martin Audio, if they made Wavefront Precision with a 12” box, and they didn’t at the time. We were about to make a final decision on another system when Brad brought us a presentation of the planned WPL 12” line array box.

He continued: “Then Brad and Martha Callaghan, our representative for this area, brought in a WPC for a demo and its performance was really impressive. I understood the concept of how Wavefront Precision can provide uniform SPL and coverage throughout the listening area, but wasn’t sure how musical it would sound in terms of the audio quality. It took about three minutes of listening to convince me that Martin Audio had achieved all those goals; the rig sounded really musical and open with lots of punch, everything you’d want in a line array system. It sounded like that everywhere in the room, from the front to the back row. I can’t tell you how many times you’re mixing sound and it sounds great at front of house but when you step off the riser, and walk 30 feet to the right it’s like, ‘What happened?’ That was not happening anywhere with WPC.”

Southard, founder and owner of Southard Audio, commented: “As Steve mentioned, we’d been using another company’s line array for decades and had reached the end of that system’s use life, so it was time to make a move. Our businesses are regional and on the smaller side, so we weren’t in the position to spend a ton of money on a system. The WPC represented good value in terms of getting more performance than what you pay for.

“For me, WPL is essentially an MLA system with less processing power,” Southard added. “As far as SPL output, audio acuity and all of the tangible sonic points of the box, WPL is pretty close to MLA, with the only real difference being external amplifiers and a lower resolution, even though WPL does have certain features such as Hard Avoid up to a point. We went in very confident that we had a known entity, even though WPL is a brand-new system.”

As it turns out, Payne and Southard’s confidence was well rewarded following the first listening session for the WPL system at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA. As Southard reported: “Overall, WPL exceeded my expectations, even though the Coliseum is a very difficult space with lots of slap and echo. We started off by doing a Hard Avoid on the ceiling down to the top rows as a default and the coverage was seamless. We walked the room carefully and the prediction software was very accurate.

“I was also very impressed with the availability of SPL and the headroom,” Payne concluded. “I feel confident we could do any type of act in that space with this amount of PA. WPL rigged easily and the software, cabling, and amp settings worked perfectly right out of the box.”

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