Martin Audio rental partners Capital Sound (part of the Solotech UK group), which has been the exclusive supplier of the manufacturer’s MLA platform at the annual American Express presents BST Hyde Park in London since the event’s inception in 2013, adapted its sound design this season to meet the challenges presented by a 5-meter height gain of Star Group’s new Titan stage (which now reaches 19 meters off the ground).
Specifically, Solotech extended the two main PA and sidefill hangs and streamlined the 11 delay towers, introducing its recently acquired WPL scalable line array, which is the largest in the Wavefront Precision family. This has resulted in 182 Martin Audio line array elements being deployed at the event as well as 44 subwoofers.
“Had we used the original plot, the hangs would have been out of proportion,” explains Solotech senior technical advisor Robin Conway. “So I looked at issues such as trim height, and both visually and performance wise, by increasing the box count we managed to achieve better results, with more energy at the front.
“On top of that, we also managed to achieve the trim height we wanted, with the main hangs trimmed this year at 16.2 meters from the ground as opposed to 12.5 meters previously, and the sides at 17.5 meters compared to 14.5 meters.”
Aesthetically, the stage design also had to work around a newly-created tree, the central focal point of the stage, while mechanically a wrap-around video screen was introduced for the first time, also developed by Solotech.
The main PA this year was increased by four elements and comprised 19 MLA and a single MLD Downfill each side, with 15 MLA and an MLD Downfill as side hangs (two each side larger than previously). Arranged in a broadside cardioid array were 32 MLX subwoofers while six pairs of MLA Compact provided front fills.
The delay positions were also extended with longer hangs. Of the 11 masts, positions 1-5 were identically configured with seven MLA and an MLD Downfill; the delay masts 6-9 behind the FOH mix tower comprised an extended 10 WPL and three SXH218 in a cardioid stack, while delay points 10 and 11 were each populated with eight WPC elements.
All Wavefront Precision enclosures were driven by Martin Audio iKON multi-channel amplifiers in the optimum 1-box resolution, and the sound was again carried site wide on an Optocore fiber that offered full redundancy. Solotech fielded a technical team that worked with the event’s long-term production manager, Proper Productions’ Mark Ward, including Tim Patterson (crew chief), Johnny Buck (monitor engineer), Mike Warren (FOH engineer) and Joseph Pierce system tech. Martin Audio former technical director Jason Baird was brought in as consultant.
Solotech senior project manager Martin Connolly reports that both the onsite and offsite sound thresholds met the approval of acousticians/noise control consultants Vanguardia. “Following propagation tests, we managed to achieve great level — an increase on what we have had in the past and with a bit more control,” he notes.
This was particularly evident in performances by Elton John and Adele, as Connolly adds. “Elton John was 100-101 dB(A) and Adele was 102 dB(A) LEq (1 min) and 101 dB(A) LEq 5 mins, with 75 dB(A) offsite.”
He said the event had fully justified their decision back in Spring this year to invest further into Wavefront Precision—with an acquisition countenanced by Solotech. As a result, WPL and WPC now complement the WPS system they had earlier bought for the Tim Minchin tour.
Along with the two new WPs Solotech also purchased TORUS for itr hire inventory—part of an order amounting to well over 100 enclosures. “Had we not done so, looking at our order book for the summer we would simply have had to sub-hire in,” stated Connolly.
Production director Ward concludes, “There were a lot of conversations about how to make the PA sound great and feel in proportion on Star’s vast new Titan stage. Solotech and Martin Audio got fully engaged in figuring out solutions and we more than achieved the result we were after — both sonically and aesthetically. It looked ‘right’ and sounded brilliant.”