RG Jones’ busy summer season with Martin Audio line arrays and other components continued in July with the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace. This followed the Glastonbury Festival and the simultaneous Henley Festival, which both placed further demands on Jones’ Martin Audio inventory.
The audio specialists had been sub-contracted by main technical production company Hawthorns, which was in turn introduced to the project by event organizer, Media 10. The Royal Warrant Holders Association hosted both the Coronation Festival and exhibition in the Gardens of Buckingham Palace.
RG Jones, themselves Royal Warrant Holders, participated in the exhibition (along with more than 200 others) while simultaneously providing sound reinforcement for the Gala concerts. In fact the RG Jones stand exhibited an original Morris J-type—the same as the one used by the original founder Ronald Geoffrey Jones back in the 1920s.
As with Glastonbury, RG Jones’ project manager Ben Milton relished the challenge of project managing a large-scale event, but unlike Glastonbury where Martin Audio’s W8L Longbow system was deployed, Milton said the system of choice this time would be the company’s W8LC and W8LM systems.
“We have used the W8LC system for so many classical concerts of this size in the past that we were confident it would sound fantastic and give us no sleepless nights,” Milton states. “It just works so well.”
But the implementation of the system for the Raymond Gubbay promoted Gala concerts was far from straightforward, as Milton emphasizes. “Aside from the stringent guidelines and provisos we had to follow, the PA wings were extremely wide—around 310 feet between left and right––which required an additional L/C/R center system flown over the stage.”
And with a wide range of artists celebrating 60 years of the performing arts—including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Katie Melua, Russell Watson, Katherine Jenkins, Laura Wright, Only Boys Allowed, The Feeling, as well as the National Youth Orchestra and Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures–—there was quite a line-up of talent for Milton and Simon Honywill at the FOH mixing desk.
“I love the challenge of having 250-plus inputs on the desk with multiple acts,” says the former, explaining that this included active splits from the stage, sent to the BBC broadcast OB trucks.
Out on each wing, in front of the Palace terrace, two hangs of 14 Martin Audio W8LC elements were mounted on smart PA masts.
A further three center in-hangs formed the thrust canopy PA. This comprised six W8LM Mini line arrays (with two W8LMD Downfills at the base), flanked by two hangs of eight W8LC to produce an L/C/R image.
Under the thrust stage, there were four gauze-covered WLX subs with a further six ground stacked WLX under the two speaker masts (three per side). Finally, eight Martin Audio DD6 Differential Dispersion horns were positioned along the front lip as close fills.
All processing was carried out in an XTA Audiocore environment, with system technician Mark Edwards equalizing and time aligning the system remotely via a wireless tablet.
Milton says, “The in-hangs had to do all the work and we had to deal with timing issues between the wide hangs and the inner hangs. The LC’s worked fantastically well and provided full 330-foot coverage without delays for 20,000 people. In fact when you sat in the middle of the auditorium it was just like a cinematic setting carefully time aligned to get the stereo image, and wherever you went it delivered and it was still high fidelity sound.”
The audio complemented the width of the stage, he notes, adding that both Tim Davies [BBC Television sound supervisor] and the orchestra had expressed their delight with the sound. “The whole event was special because you simply forgot where you were. The Palace provided an amazing backdrop.”
Supporting system designer Milton, were FOH engineer Honywill, system tech Edwards, and James Breward (system/comms), and on stage, Mark Isbister (patchmaster), Alison Dale (RF and orchestral miking), Damon Dyer (monitors) and Ian Threlfall (stage).