DISPLAY™ AND DOWNFILL
A special downfill cabinet was developed for Martin Audio's Wavefront Line Array series, in time to debut on Kylie Minogue's Showgirl Greatest Hits tour.
The production requirements of the tour, serviced by Martin Audio's premier rental company Capital Sound Hire, gave the manufacturers all the encouragement they needed to produce the W8LD downfill line array cabinet as an extension to their flagship W8L system.
Prior to its cancellation (after Kylie had been diagnosed with breast cancer), the Showgirl tour featured an unusually large thrust stage which the artiste occupied for almost the entire performance. Typical of tours of this size, the stage apron needed to be kept clear, resulting in the flown PA being asked to provide coverage all the way from the stage barrier to the back of the room.
To cover the far left and right of the front rows required an extremely wide horizontal dispersion pattern (of 120°). More importantly, to avoid feedback and reduce PA spill into the in-ear monitors, Martin Audio were tasked not only with developing an extremely wide horizontal dispersion cabinet but also one which was capable of an adjustable asymmetric dispersion pattern in order to direct sound away from the thrust stage.
Another important design goal was the seamless integration between the W8LD downfill cabinets and the main W8L system above.
Using two W8LD cabinets per side to cover the first 20 metres also boosted the output from the main system, as W8L cabinets were not being used to cover the first few rows.
The W8LD was just one of a number of new technologies being put through their paces on the tour by the Aussie partnership of FOH engineer Chris Pyne and system tech Tony Szabo.
In the UK, the Wavefront hang configuration varied depending on venue - from 16 x W8L's per side (at Manchester Evening News) down to 12 x W8L (in Glasgow).
At the Birmingham NEC Arena, Capital Sound Hire rigged 14 x W8L's per side with 12 x W8LC Compact Line Arrays as side hangs. An additional 12 x W8LS front-loaded subs are groundstacked each side of the stage (the crew are carrying a maximum of 30 - sometimes running 24 in the air and six on
Szabo and Pyne set up the system using Martin Audio's predictive ViewPoint™ software, using the maximum number of enclosures to flatten off the array angles. This was confirmed using Martin's newly-developed DISPLAY™ program, which equips users of W8L Series Line Arrays with a powerful yet simple to use analysis and design virtual 3D environment.
With the extra PA that was introduced, the DISPLAY™ file had been indispensable, enabling Tony Szabo to plot the room without guessing coverage and SPL values. 'I just have to put that into a 3D space, which represents the room and via placement of a virtual mic it will give me the correct frequency response.
'Martin Audio have used a software engine which 'gamers' use, known as OpenGL. It enables you to move around just as you would in a 3D games environment. You can put the PA anywhere through the 3D model, and it works really well.'
Finally, both men were agreed on the rigging attributes and overall aesthetic of the W8L system. 'And everyone knows that looks are worth 6dB,' quips Tony Szabo.
Other crew members included Rod Matheson (monitor engineer); Al Woods (crew chief); Simon Hodge (monitor & RF tech); Becky Pell (PA tech); Andy Banks (PA tech). Production manager was Kevin Hopgood and tour manager Sean Fitzpatrick