The debut of Martin Audio’s new WPS line array on the Eddie Izzard tour has provided Capital Sound the opportunity to extend its inventory, after winning the bid for the Tim Minchin tour—since the two UK itineraries overlapped.
WPS is the latest model in the Wavefront Precision series, which features scalable resolution for greater flexibility in amplifier management and optimization of coverage, consistency and control. WPS comprises 2 x 8-inch LF drivers, 4 x 4-inch midrange drivers and 4 x 1-inch exit HF compression drivers loaded by a molded HF horn which occupies the full width of the enclosure.
In addition to stand-up comedy, WPS this time also needed to reproduce a full band, with the artist’s grand piano supported by brass, keys, bass and guitar, requiring 56 inputs at the sound desk. Front of house engineer would be Dave Roden, who has worked through many generations of Martin Audio PA’s over the years with his regular charges, the Stereophonics (and recently with their lead singer Kelly Jones).
Roden had been asked to seek alternative bids for the tour when Capital Sound’s Paul Timmins intervened. “Dave had possibly been considering another brand solution due to its weight and size when I mentioned the Martin Audio WPS system which I thought would also meet the criteria, when other systems would have been too heavy,” he states. “I told him about the success of WPS on the Eddie Izzard tour and he seemed happy with the solution. Martin Connolly worked up the quotation and we were successful, after it went out to tender.
“The additional WPS inventory now gives us two systems—or one large four-hang system,” notes Timmins.
Martin Audio’s managing director Dom Harter adds, “As with any new touring PA, it requires pioneers to road test. Given that the WPS software configuration within Display optimization was still Beta, we were grateful to Capital and the production team for having faith and running WPS through its paces.”
The weight factor had been critical as Dave Roden knew he required 14 elements per side to deliver consistent sound to all corners of the theatres where multiple balconies are involved.
“We are entering a new era where production teams are increasingly concerned about weight loading and coverage,” considers Paul Timmins. “Five years ago, a 108 lb. box would have been fantastic, but now we are looking at 64 lb. for the WPS, which is incredible really for a big sounding system with a lot of grunt.”
With Nick Boulton serving as system tech, as he had been with Dave Roden on the Kelly Jones tour, Martin Audio’s product support engineer, Robin Dibble oversaw the set-up of the system, which also incorporates SX218 subwoofers, four per side, with four XD12 for balcony fills and four WPM for front fills.
“The weight of the frames and the cabinets has been a real advantage, as almost all venues we’re touring have extremely limited point weights,” says Boulton. “The physical size of the cabinets means we can put more up without compromising sightlines, which means more ticket sales whilst also achieving the coverage and level we need for what has turned from musical comedy into quite a demanding rock and roll show.
“Even though the software is still in development, the sonic results are excellent. Personally, I think the WPS sounds better than MLA straight out of the box. It’s also a lot quicker and easier to fly due to the three-point rigging and the reduced weight.”
Boulton has run the system in both 1- and 2-box resolutions. “The results have been excellent with both, however in 1-box resolution you do get similar consistency and control to that you experience with MLA. Although the 2-box resolution still sounds great, there are (as expected) greater tonal and level variations.
Reviewing WPS in operation, the system tech continues, “For a platform that is still in development both Dave Roden and I are continually impressed with how it sounds every day. It sounds amazing and consistent and has been rock solid with no failures. “
Looking to the future Timmins states, “Buying into WPS is the first stage of investment into the next generation of Martin Audio’s Wavefront Precision series, and we expect to end up with a five-system package over the next two or three years.”
Summarizing, Dom Harter says, “As ever, Capital have shown themselves to be a real partner and we are delighted that WPS has made such a positive impression this early in its life. The success of the tours also meant we will be able to make available the public release of Display with WPS.”