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VME Deploys Martin Audio MLA Compact For First-Ever Cotton Clouds Festival

System helps in overcoming off-site level limits while delivering commensurate coverage at festival's inaugural run in the UK

By PSW Staff August 25, 2017

Martin Audio MLA Compact arrays deployed by VME in action at the inaugural run of Cotton Clouds in the UK.

VME provided full production (including its flagship Martin Audio MLA Compact PA) for the first-ever Cotton Clouds, a boutique pop music festival presented earlier this month in the UK. Held at Saddleworth Cricket Club in Oldham, and surrounded by the picturesque Pennine hills, it sold out all 3,000 tickets well in advance.

“Being from the local area I knew that there would be issues with noise propagation,” stated Oliver Fallon, technical manager of Cotton Clouds and sound engineer for VME, which is based in Knutsford, Cheshire. “During my time at VME I have worked with the Martin Audio MLA many times — therefore I knew there was no better system to do the job as it has got us out of some sticky situations in the past.”

Chris Pearce, FOH engineer for Cotton Clouds, as well as Blossoms and Inspiral Carpets, adds. “When planning for this event to take place, I was worried about the residual noise being a problem off site, due to the area being very residential. The fact that the off-site level was set at 65 dB as a result added to my concerns.

Flown left and right of the stage were eight MLA Compact, with a further four mounted on the MLX subwoofers, providing front fill. In fact, 11 MLX subwoofers were deployed in an asymmetrical broadside array—nine wide with two reversed to provide cancellation on stage.

“Given the venue and the limitations of the off-site limit it was essential we got as much height on the MLA Compact as possible,” reports Mark Cleator, VME head of sound. “However on-site we were restricted due to the advertising on the PA wings.”

Due to the ability of the MLA Compact and the Display software, VME was still able to reach 95 dB at FOH and hit the rear of the audience area with smooth coverage, while keeping to off-site limits using the hard avoid functions.

Given it was the first year of this festival the line-up for the festival’s inaugural run offered a mix of local bands such as PINS, The Sundowners and The Blinders alongside veterans such as Nick Heywood, The Coral and headline act The Sugarhill Gang.

“We were delighted with the Martin Audio equipment supplied to Cotton Clouds this year,” states festival director Rick Lees. “We had so many compliments on the sound from both attendees and artists. Off-site levels were recorded below 65dB which is incredible considering the volume and clarity on site. We’ll certainly be using Martin Audio in the coming years, as we were absolutely blown away.”

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