ESL JOINS MARTIN AUDIO MLA COMPACT NETWORK
Essex-based Event Sound & Light (ESL) has become the latest partner to join the Martin Audio MLA loudspeaker array network after investing in a new MLA Compact (System 24). The order was fulfilled by Martin Audio dealers, LMC Audio.
Formed in 2003, ESL has built up a reputation for providing complete production infrastructures, and director Paul Galley knew that with its unique controllability, the award-winning MLA Compact would enable the company not only to provide more potent onsite sound for larger audiences than they were able to previously, but also satisfy the requirements from local councils regarding offsite environmental noise.
'MLA technology represents a new direction in the way loudspeaker arrays are configured and controlled,' he said. 'It represents a radical departure from conventional line array thinking, and delivers much more consistent sound across the audience.'
Nevertheless, the purchase was only ratified after thorough market research. 'We had reached a point where our existing line array could only provide coverage for audiences of up to 5,000, so that a bigger format was necessary. We started with a blank canvas, looking at various systems, taking into account whether the brand appeared on riders and whether demo stock was available. We were determined to invest in future technology rather than running the risk of devaluing our investment.'
The company already had a long-standing relationship with Martin Audio's Lead Product Support Engineer, Andy Davies, and it was a product demo arranged by Martin Audio and LMC Audio at the Bedford Millennium Studios that convinced them.
'It was the ability to control the sound, in particular, that interested us, and at this demo we were completely blown away,' exclaimed Galley. 'MLA Compact fitted our budget and when we looked at the cardioid design of the MLX subs, and hard avoid cancellation in the software, the decision became a no brainer.'
Initially, two demo rigs were provided - for a festival and a religious event. 'The latter was in a hangar with extreme reverberation time, and since there was trading taking place on the periphery we had to taper off the sound so the traders could work.'
As a result of this ESL placed an order for 18 MLA Compact cells and six of the large MLX subs. At the same time they purchased four of Martin Audio's powerful DD12 Differential Dispersion enclosures for frontfills 'which sounded as big as the line array in its own right,' according to Paul Galley.
Customer feedback was both immediate and overwhelming. Involved at both events was ESL's premier sound engineer, Jason Fenn, who was mixing FOH.
'Working in what was essentially a cavernous and reverberant barn for the religious event MLA was able to deal with the horrific acoustics incredibly well,' he said. 'Using Martin Audio's Display 2 software we were able to map the venue and tell the array to avoid the flat hard walls whilst still keeping the same SPL and sonic quality in the audience area. While a high SPL level wasn't needed, the coverage from the first row of the audience to the last needed to be the same and MLA did exactly that.
'But the real treat was being able to get in front of the array at an outdoor music festival. We were able to open the MLA up and really give it some beans but all the while keeping within the off-site noise threshold. The clarity of the system is just so pure, it felt like I was mixing on something 6 meters away rather than 60 - it was just there in your face with the smoothest, best quality sound I have ever heard.'
The monitor engineers also loved it as MLA is able to create hard avoid areas for directly behind the array, he said. 'The rejection of those horrible low mids floating around on stage are pretty much non-existent and with the combination of the MLX subs in cardioid formation makes for a happy stage and a very happy front of house engineer. Every guest engineer that turned up over the weekend commented on how amazing the system sounded, with a lot of engineers stating that while this was their first time mixing on an MLA system it certainly wouldn't be their last.'
In conclusion Paul Galley says, 'The word is already out on the street that we have this system and the councils/clients are noticing that we are taking noise control seriously.
'Having MLA means we can now handle bigger events and get the system out on dry hire within the rental network. As for touring, with MLA appearing increasingly on riders, this will put us on the radar. We have 12 MLA certified engineers who are impressed with the ongoing support. It's reassuring to see that as we have invested in Martin Audio, so they are returning the favour.'
As for LMC Audio, Will Hinkly supported ESL throughout, recommending MLA in the first instance and part-exchanging their old system to help fund the investment.