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Martin Audio Wavefront Precision arrays and companion components were deployed on all three stages at the recent DelFest in Maryland.

Martin Audio Shines At Latest Iteration Of DelFest In Maryland

Virginia-based Southard Audio deploys Wavefront Precision arrays at all three stages for the annual roots festival at the Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, MD.

The most recent iteration of DelFest, a multi-stage roots festival that has steadily evolved its technical infrastructure at the Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, MD since its inception 17 years ago, was supported by long-time partner Southard Audio (based in Virginia) deploying three systems utilizing Martin Audio Wavefront Precision arrays — a WPL and two WPS hangs — joined by supporting components.

“We only switched to WPL and other Martin Audio systems at DelFest post-COVID (from 2022) and it really shines for these applications,” notes Southard managing partner Jason Misterka. The three-stage Martin Audio deployment was led by the large-format WPL line array. The grandstand system used 24 WPL for the main PA (12 per side) with eight WPL out fill stage right, four XD15 front fills, two CDD15 for outfills at the VIP tents, SXH218 subwoofers, IK42 amplifiers and THS side fills as well as LE200 monitor wedges driven by Linea Research amplifiers.

The large, covered grandstand, set at an odd angle along one side of the 750-foot flat field, provides a coverage challenge. According to Misterka, “We need to rig to a tall stage to cover the field, and when we do, the Martin Audio rig really does an amazing job. We also use an eight-box out fill array to cover the Grandstand, hung on our Applied LA12-25 towers. That also does a surprisingly excellent job, sounding like nearfield monitors in a space 500-plus feet away and at an angle!”

Meanwhile, the Potomac stage was equipped with 16 WPS (for the main PA), four SXH218 subs, iK42 amps, and a pair of CDD15 front fills. This stage, in particular, has developed over the years into a full music stage from little more than a band competition stage.

Unlike the other two stages, The Music Hall is set indoors, served by a main PA comprising 16 WPS (eight per side) on lifts, with eight SXC118 subs, and four Martin Audio FlexPoint FP12 as front fills, driven by IK42 amps.

Being a roots festival focused on old-time, bluegrass, and string band music, the McCoury family is one of the main partners. The Del McCoury Band reappears as the Travelin’ McCourys (along with guest musicians).

Southard’s Matt Hudson spent considerable time on the prediction for the large field as well as the out fill prediction for the grandstand. “When dealing with an audience area as large as that, part of the magic is making it sound great at 500 feet and not like an AM radio,” Misterka says.

The “Hard Avoid” function was employed for all three venues to keep it as quiet as possible for the string bands, while the SXH218 subwoofers at the grandstand stage were deployed in a left-right cardioid configuration.

“Our company has had a long history with acoustic music,” Misterka explains. “Mixing bluegrass and old-time music in the traditional style typically involves a number of hot microphones used to amplify mostly fairly quiet acoustic instruments. The less bleed there is from the main PA system, the cleaner the microphones sound and the more gain-before-feedback you have to work with.

“It takes more experience and skill than most people understand to mix acoustic music without the instruments utilizing pickup systems. We are still seen as one of the premier providers of production services for acoustic music festivals on the Eastern side of the U.S.”

Key Chang, who mixed the Del McCoury Band and the Travelin’ McCourys, among others, adds, “At DelFest, we cater to lots of acoustic/string bands as well as large-scale rock bands. Mixing a string band, through multiple large-diaphragm condenser mics, at concert level, can be a daunting task; but the extremely focused WPL made this almost effortless and handled it all with ease.

“I’ve never heard a PA sound as full at the back of the listening area (200-plus feet). The low-mids in particular were very impressive. This frequency range can be especially challenging with miked string bands and often needs to be cut out due to stage bleed. My main EQ was hardly touched.”

Southard Audio’s crew included Matthew Hudson, Chad Wyatt, Tim Reckley, David Pelikan, Bob McNichols, Phil Speiss, Michael Stover, Sven Giersmann, Tim Turner, Eric Shy, and Slim Prescott.

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