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Successful Season Closer In London’s Hyde Park For Martin Audio MLA & Capital Sound

Capital has evolved an optimized sound with a main PA hang comprising 16 MLA and an MLD Downfill per side, and 12 MLA on each flank as side fills.
The scene for the final weekend at Hyde Park. Picture credit: BBC/Jamie Simonds, Sarah Jeynes

Hyde Park in London recently played host to the final weekend of its long season, bringing down the curtain on a successful summer at the park for Capital Sound its MLA system from Martin Audio following its ten-day stint at British Summer Time two months earlier.

Designed to coincide with Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, headliner Barry Manilow was supported by Bonnie Tyler, the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, Jack Savoretti, Gabrielle and soprano Aida Garifullina. Bigger ensembles included two choirs, while the cast of Les Miserables also shared the bill, and the 60-piece BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Richard Balcombe, performed the traditional Last Night of the Proms anthem—including “Pomp and Circumstance” and “Land of Hope and Glory.”

The following day BBC Radio 2 presenters Zoe Ball, Ken Bruce, Rylan Clark Neal, Sara Cox, Gary Davies, Trevor Nelson and Jo Whiley introduced a galaxy of stars, including headliners Pet Shop Boys to the 50,000-capacity crowd.

Working the event for the sixth year, Capital Sound was again contracted by promoters, Festival Republic, with production in the hands of Dick Tee. Capital has evolved an optimized sound with a main PA hang comprising 16 MLA and an MLD Downfill per side, and 12 MLA on each flank as side fills.

Low frequencies were reproduced by 26 MLX subwoofers in a broadside cardioid array — 17 forward facing, and nine on top reversed. On alternate sub stacks was a W8LM Mini line array element, with a further stack of three W8LM on each side acting as “wing fills.”

Up on stage, artists drew reference sound from Martin Audio LE1500 wedges, supported by WS218X side fills, while away from the stage a dozen Martin Audio DD6s provided reinforcement at the VIP interview stage outside, with an additional 12 Martin Audio F8s on duty inside.

Further back down the field, there were four delay rings giving a total of 12 delay masts. Two points were set 1150 feet from the mix position, comprising eight Martin Audio MLA Compacts, to extend coverage to the main entrance gate but avoiding spill. Four positions were equipped with three MLX in cardioid pattern, while the furthest ring ensured the desired SPL levels could be reached while containing the offsite sound.

This followed the carefully designed coverage footprint that had made the 2018 edition a success. However, this year a further eight DD6s had been provided for onstage orchestral monitoring, while in the hospitality garden, close to the VIP interview stage, a mast of eight MLA Compact was rigged, stage left.

Many of the acts performing were already Capital Sound accounts, such as the Pet Shop Boys (with Holger Schwark piloting the soundboard), Westlife, with veteran FOH engineer Gary Bradshaw, and Status Quo with Andy May — all having spent vast sections of their careers mixing sound through various generations of Martin Audio PA’s.

In addition, Barry Manilow sound engineer Ken Newman expressed his approval that Capital had been able to replicate his usual FOH rig across the Atlantic (while in the U.S., his MLA requirements are met by Martin Audio partner OSA).

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“It really was the best sound system I’ve ever worked with, and I was assisted by some of the best sound people I’ve ever worked with,” Newnman says. “They accepted nothing less than perfection with a great deal of attention paid to the very important but often overlooked details.”

The people to whom he referred were the large crew of Capital Sound techs, principally crew chief Tim Paterson, system tech Dan Fathers, FOH engineers Jerry Eade and Mark O’Neill, monitor engineers Jonny Buck and Damian Dyer, and patch engineer Richard Wonnacott.

Quo’s long-serving sound engineer, Andy May, adds, “Achieving a dynamic mix to a very large audience is never an easy task, but the system supplied by Capital had been perfectly designed and set up really well,” he enthused. “Coverage across the entire area was very impressive, so I knew the whole audience would get the intelligibility and dynamic punch that was required.”

Martin Audio