MARTIN AUDIO MINIS MASTER ITUNES FESTIVAL
The iTunes Festival relocated to The Roundhouse in North London this year, with over 60 artists playing live at this free event, which runs throughout the month of July.
With bands ranging from Oasis, Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol at the commercial end to acoustic performers like Newton Faulkner, quirky performance artists with wide dynamic ranges (like Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan), leavened with some good old fashioned hard house and R&B … it added up to something of a Molotov cocktail for iTunes production manager Stuart Turvill, system tech Dave Roden - and the Martin Audio W8LM Mini Line Array System.
Stuart Turvill has chaperoned the event's steady growth from the ICA through nearby KOKO (last year) and now to the Roundhouse, where he designed the audio infrastructure for the televised event, in collaboration with Martin Audio's Jim Cousins and Andy Pardoe, and consultant Nick Foots.
He was fortunate to have Dave Roden, the Stereophonics' FOH engineer for 14 years, as his system tech, since he knows the Martin Audio signature sound inside out (having worked with the full line array family on a succession of Stereos tours).
'We have only generally used the Minis as side-hangs on tour,' he admits. 'This is the first time I have mixed through them as a main system, and I must say they are really versatile, and a miracle for the size of the box.'
Jim Cousins believes they are ideal for a venue such as this - and particularly apposite for a TV shoot. 'They are nice for that venue - physically unobtrusive and with good pattern control so they don't fire the room up too much.'
The truth is that Roden and Turvill hail from neighbouring villages in the Welsh valleys, and although they have known each other for 20 years this is the first time they have been able to work together. 'Stuart has asked me on previous occasions but I have always been touring,' says the sound engineer. 'But the band has only done one show this summer and is mixing an album in the studio, so I said I would love to do it.'
As for the speakers there are ten W8LM per side and a W8LMD downfill, flown either side of the stage, and a further six LM's (plus an LMD) rigged each side for outfills. Bass hangs consist of six WMX per side, hung equidistant behind the inner/outer arrays, and a further eight WS218X's under the stage apron. The WMX's have been designed to deliver mid bass and thump straight to the chest while the 218's provide the low bass rumble.
Jim Cousins says there is another advantage in this approach. 'The reason for flying the mid-bass subs was to tame the room a bit because it gets them off stage and away from the focal point, whereas the subs under the stage are working at lower frequencies.'
Down at the stage there are 14 x Martin Audio LE1500 floor monitors (as there were last year) with Martin Audio W3's for infill and W2's on the VIP area. Providing drumfills are Martin Audio W2/W3, with Blackline S18 subs.
Monitor engineer Will King added, 'The LE1500's are pretty awesome - some of the best wedge monitors I have heard. Everyone has commented on how good they sound - though I like to think some of that is down to me!'
The FOH system was set up using DISPLAY, Martin Audio's predictive software, processed by XTA DP226's in the rack and two XTA 448's at FOH, running AudioCore.
'This venue is in the round so you have a resonant frequency of 121Hz which shows up at 125Hz plus its relative harmonics,' notes Roden. 'That resonance really lingers and all you can do is compensate for it in the system EQ, to save visiting engineers from hacking it out on their GEQ's. But in essence, it's the nature of the room and the system has actually dealt with it extremely well as it's such a versatile box.'
As every show is recorded (and will be televised on ITV2 - with highlights on ITV1) stage equipment needs to be discreet and sightlines unobscured, and hence the hangs are set wide and trimmed high. 'Everything is dictated by the iTunes set design,' says Stuart Turvill. 'But it's an easier place to work here than KOKO and has a bigger stage.'
The production manager has masterminded all the recording (using an option of Pro Tools HD rig, 72-input Logic system and Alesis HD24 multitrack recorders).
He has also set up side screens for the first time, using two Barco 6mm side screens, Element Labs Stealth at the rear with the content fired off a Green Hippo Hippotizer by video specialist, Neil Trenell. Lighting has been done largely in house, with support from PRG under Jon Cadbury.
But for Dave Roden, the event is just a blast - and not only for the chance to work with his favourite PA system. 'I wanted to do this because it was an opportunity to work in a different role from my usual one, alongside a lot of people I already know and respect, and meet new colleagues into the bargain. After all, living in Wales I don't get to network a lot in London!'
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: The iTunes Festival stage set … and FOH engineer Dave Roden