Leeds Castle sits resplendent in the rolling green Kent countryside. It is the most beautiful castle in England apparently and while this may be true, it certainly isn’t when severe weather warnings that include almost 12 hours of torrential rain hamper the setup of an outdoor classical concert featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
PA supplier to the event, SRD Group is a veteran of the event and after using an L-Acoustics V-DOSC system in 2010, Stuart Roberts, MD of the company, decided to try something different in the form of Outline GTO: “We were looking for another large-format PA system and we wanted to try another box that had an even better throw than V-DOSC to try to get right to the back of the arena. What we have found so far is that this is certainly what seems to be happening.”
Peter Bernard, MD of Outline UK, explained: “When we were developing GTO we knew that the most important part was the high mid section and in this box it is essentially a Butterfly high mid section because we know it works and the DPRWG (Double Parabolic Reflective Wave Guide) is proven technology. Ostensibly what we did was put two Butterfly modules into the high pack, conceptually, at a perfect 90º, but we then decided to increase the energy. So, we have put four, 3” compression drivers on the back of it. This is complemented by four 8” drivers for the mid and dual fifteens for the low-mid. What this means is you need fewer numbers of hangs, and the fewer sources you have the fewer problems you actually going to run into. The box is very high energy meaning that you can use fewer boxes to achieve the same coverage, ultimately meaning that you have less smear.”
For classical music, of course, definition and clarity is paramount. For an outdoor event and with the best of British weather being thrown around this becomes harder to achieve. Yet, just because GTO is billed as a high-power system doesn’t mean it looses any of it’s finesse. At the back of the stage, mixing around 114 channels of orchestra (which is then sent to FOH as a premix) sat Ian Barfoot and his trusty Allen & Heath iLive 80. For this event Barfoot was using a selection of microphones from DPA, Schoeps, B&K and Octava ensuring every nuance of the performance was captured. GTO, even though it was proving capable of throwing over 200m when the wind died down, did nothing to degrade the clarity of audio that the microphones were capturing.
“It is behaving very well,” continued Stuart. “The dispersion angle of GTO is wider than V-DOSC, which means we have had to reposition the delays in comparison to last year.” However, due to various factors out of SRD’s control they were unable to place their delay towers exactly where they wanted them (and in fact ended up with one hang of 12 Butterflies pointing at a considerable angle across the audience in comparison to the main FOH system), which caused an issue in the audience space where it was possible to hear both the FOH and delays. “We ended up with a bit of overlap, where you didn’t want overlap. If we had been able to put the PA where we wanted to put it, it wouldn’t have been an issue. The point is that the delays are not in line with the main system and to put it in line we would have had to put it in them in the middle, which we weren’t able to do.” However, with some clever counter intuitive delay time settings punched into the Lake speaker management system, SRD was able to compensate and the audience went home happy.
Complicating matters further, this year’s event stretched across two days, with the second featuring slightly more contemporary music from the likes of The Wanted, Eliza Doolittle and Aggro Santos: “For a rock and roll show you really want the PA much closer to the stage, so we had to put a load of Butterfly up to cover the pit area,” explained Stuart. The GTO was then left to cover the remainder of the auditorium area. “Trying to make the systems be all things to both shows has been very difficult. We have also had to bring in a lot more subs for the event tomorrow and are running them cardioid to keep a lot of energy off the stage and from the backstage areas,” he said. “To be honest, the subs are running on an aux and we are not really having to use them for the classical. The GTO boxes go down so low with the double 15s that we don’t need them, they are just there for a bit of occasional rumble on tonight’s show,” smiled Stuart.
Thankfully, the naturally occurring rumble from the heavens cleared fractionally before doors and the Classical Spectacular proved to be just that.