Martin Audio MLA Tames Taronga Park Zoo Concerts

Over the past three years, Entertainment Installations has been supporting the long-standing Twilight at Taronga summer concert series in Sydney (Australia) with production services, including a sound reinforcement system that’s now headed by Martin Audio MLA Compact.

The concerts take place in the middle of the busy Taronga Park Zoo, with restricted site access. Despite its picturesque setting, with around 1,600 people picnicking nightly as the sun sets behind the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, in the past off-site noise has been a real issue.

“Being a Sydney Harborside location there is a lot of ‘old money’,” explains Entertainment Installations MD Neale Mace. “These are well-to-do residents whom you don’t want complaining about noise. There is also the issue of the animals themselves; the elephants in particular are sensitive to noise. However, that was before we started using [Martin Audio’s] MLA Compact.”

Although Neale first introduced the system to his inventory two years ago, he has been running the company’s front line systems since the end of the last millennium, when he invested in the Wavefront W8C Compact system before moving onto Martin Audio’s conventional W8LC line array.

But when he started running Martin Audio MLA technology, the traditional sound escape problems at Taronga Park Zoo all but disappeared. “MLA’s ability to fit the audio to a designated area, with very little audio beyond that space, is a revelation for this event,” he says, “coupled with the fact that it’s a recognized brand and sounds amazing. There’s an 85 dB limit at the perimeter, but with MLA Compact we can achieve this and still reach 100 dB at the FOH desk.”

The 17 weekend concerts are spread over two months and this year featured Rufus Wainwright, Belle and Sebastian, and Conor Oberst as well as local Australian artists. Entertainment Installations rigged eight MLA Compact elements per side in the PA towers on 1-ton chain blocks. Three DSX subs were stage-stacked each side under the PA hangs. “The PA towers aren’t totally weatherproof and this is another reason that the MLA Compact works here – as it is weatherized,” Mace continues.

Mace’s sound team, which for the most part consisted of Gordon Wood as monitor tech/op and Murrey Carr as front of house tech, have both undertaken MLA training, while local Martin Audio distributor Technical Audio Group has been on hand to provide any assistance.

The move to MLA has vindicated Entertainment Installations’ investment in Martin Audio’s latest technology. “This, along with the large complement of W8C, WSX, W8LC and WS218X, means we have the biggest Martin Audio inventory in Australia––and I know this has given us a competitive edge over the years,” Mace says. “Having the MLA system puts us in a better position in the Australian touring market.”

And it has made an impact at the zoo. “This event has been running for over 10 years and I’m told by the Zoo and the promoter that the first year we were involved was the best result they’d had in terms of audio quality, with no noise complaints,” he concludes. “We’ve built on that experience over time and tried to make it better every year. The MLA system is instrumental in that success as I don’t believe there’s another PA on the market that can deliver the audio quality, coverage and level that’s required without causing off-site noise issues.”

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