AUDLEY ENDS ON A HIGH NOTE FOR RG JONES
It's Strictly '80s as Synco Martin Audio system delivers perfect Picnic
English Heritage and IMG have again been promoting their successful summer Picnic Concert series at London's Kenwood House and Audley End in Essex, retaining RG Jones to provide all the sound reinforcement and control throughout the festival season.
For the final weekend in Saffron Walden, featuring Back to the 80's, with an all-star line-up, followed by The Last Night of the Audley End Proms (headlined by Katherine Jenkins and featuring a Spitfire display) RG Jones assembled their own 'strictly '80s' technical line-up.
For acts like The Human League, Belinda Carlisle, ABC, Go West and Heaven 17, they had their own 'old boys' Jim Lambert project/production managing and Al Woods (both ex RG Jones employees from the 1980's) mixing all the bands on a Yamaha PM5D (with the exception of The Human League).
With the spectacular Audley End House providing a stately backdrop, these concerts take place in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable, with a natural rake towards the stage. There are nevertheless environmental issues for the Synco Martin Audio line array system to contend with. 'In fact it's the toughest issue we face here,' admits Jim Lambert, who first worked on this event 18 years ago.
At the mix tower position, set 66m back from the stage, the threshold is set by sound consultants Vanguardia at 88 dB/A/Leq, and the hangs are angled down to prevent the sound drifting on the prevailing wind to the ancient town of Saffron Walden on the perimeter of the site (set 250m back from the stage). Propagation tests are carried out and the sound restricted to no more than 55dB at the first residential dwellings.
Fortunately RG Jones (and Jim Lambert) have wide experience of this site, setting three delay masts (each comprising six Synco Martin Audio W8LC enclosures) across the back of the mix position to give a lateral spread, while Al Woods and Jim Lambert evolved a solution whereby four Synco Martin Audio W8LM Mini Line Arrays would provide outfills at each side of the stage for the sell-out performances, when capacity crowds of 10,000 demand that greater width is given to the coverage.
'For the wide age range the IMG concert series is aimed at, the sound levels are perfect,' says Jim. 'Even Rick Pope, Will Young's engineer, had no issue with the sound thresholds. However, he noted that since IMG took over the management of these events they have evolved from being largely classical events to more 'popular' shows.
Having been able to compare many line array systems over the years Lambert gave an unqualified thumbs-up to the Synco Martin Audio system.
'I'm really impressed with the LC's - they cope really well with 10,000 people. We've had reasonably bad weather during these shows but fortunately the high end frequencies from the W8LC's don't get blown around a lot in the wind.'
The main PA rig remains a permanent fixture during Audley End's season, and comprises hangs of 16 x W8LC per side, complemented with WLX sub bass and W8LM fills.
With Kenwood House running simultaneously it added up to another busy weekend for the RG Jones sound crew.
'In fact it's been one of our busiest summers,' admits John Carroll. 'It kicked off early with War of the Worlds, which prepped in the second half of May. Since then it's been relentless - but all the inventory was planned in early summer.' This included requisitioning the Martin Audio W8L Longbow for the Glastonbury and Latitude festivals.
Aside from their many concert and festival commitments they have also covered the major UK athletics meetings at Birmingham, Crystal Palace and Gateshead for organizers, Fast Track.
Summarising Back to the 80s, Jim Lambert stated that everything had gone to plan. 'We needed a team from the 80's to handle the '80s show - and it was great to be working with RG Jones again.'
The remainder of the sound team comprised Martin Dinley (who was mixing monitors), Tom Boothby and Toby Chester.
Further information from:
Maureen Hayes, Martin Audio
Tel: +44 (0)1494 535312
Fax: +44 (0)1494 438669
Jerry Gilbert, JGP Public Relations
Tel: +44 (0)1707 258525
Fax: +44 (0)1707 267140
Pics: Al Woods at the mixing console; ABC's Martin Fry onstage with the 80's house band; Jim Lambert (left) with John Carroll