One of the biggest challenges facing a PA company is the ability to evenly distribute the signal from a lone microphone around an arena containing 10,500 people.
When the source is merely spoken word – spanning a vast dynamic range, with additional play-in FX - the task can border on the near impossible.
Thus Capital Sound Hire set high standards and three separate production levels (for theatres, small arenas and large arenas) for comedian Lee Evans' recent tour - based around Martin Audio line array (and non-line array) components.
Evans' gags are embroidered by numerous 'pops' (the mic is used as a stage prop), VT play-ins and a closing song which he delivers on mandolin.
At Hallam FM Arena in Sheffield, the artist listened carefully during rehearsal to the playback at the three different delay points (each containing three clusters of four Martin W8C's). He was equally concerned about his monitor sound - and although production carries Martin Audio LE12J floor wedges, these are generally forsaken in favour of boosted side fills (provided by six Martin Audio W8LM Mini Line Arrays).
Cap's solution for the large-scale shows was to rig two hangs of 16 x W8LC Compacts, supported by six W8C's, forming the outfills on either side of the main PA, with a total of eight Wavefront W2's deployed as frontfills.
Commented production manager, Mark Harris, 'We wanted a set-up that would deliver a good sound but could also be toured and rigged easily. The mid-sized enclosures are great as we can hang 16 a side - plus the outfaces - and they can still be trimmed sufficiently high to keep the sightlines intact.' This was important, since three landscape LED screens provide a stunning opening sting to the show.
'It's always difficult to get one man and a mic to sound clear through a venue of this size,' said system tech, Matt Harman-Trick. 'Our solution has been to use lots of speakers. The delays possibly aren't needed but they really boost that intelligibility.'
He has used 'a mixture of ViewPoint predictive software and commonsense' to optimise the system, 'guesswork and experience' for the delays. Delay points are set at 28m from the stage, 42m and the third at 56m.
'I'm a big fan of the W8LC because it really works in a large venue - in fact there's not many situations I wouldn't use this in.'
The man in the FOH driving seat, Phil Tame, said that Lee Evans liked the sound fairly loud but was having to contend with a swoop between the dynamic music stings (ie the play-in of Bohemian Rhapsody, which peaked at 120dbA) and a barely audible whisper.
'But I'm really impressed with the W8LC,' he continues. 'The coverage is great and it delivers a nice sound; it's also good having the delays as a safety device.'