MARTIN AUDIO SUPPLIES ACE OF BASS FOR THE PRODIGY
Jon Burton commissions new 21' sub for world's bassiest band
When Prodigy headlined the second stage at last summer's V Festivals in Chelmsford and Stafford, they had a real surprise for their fans.
Thanks to a collaboration between the band's FOH engineer, Jon Burton, and Martin Audio's Research & Development director, Jason Baird, the band with arguably the most thunderous bass in the world were about to push the sub-frequencies even further.
Jon Burton explained the rationale behind his involvement in the development of Martin Audio's new passive 21' sub prototype. 'We knew a year ahead of the event that Prodigy were likely to be headlining the second stage - but sound wise there is always an issue because of the strict noise levels at both the festival sites.
'We wanted to maximise the impact of the low end, but in a directional way to avoid noise propagation across the entire site. We always require more than the normal number of subs provided by the festival, in this case SSE, so always intended bringing in extra.'
The search for 'a comedy sub' began 15 months ago, with Jon approaching potential manufacturers. As The Prodigy's rental supplier, it was Wigwam Hire's director, Chris Hill, who recommended an approach to Martin Audio. Knowing that the High Wycombe based company were already in the process of developing their own ASX 21' active sub - they arranged the initial listening tests.
'We threw down the challenge to Jason Baird,' remembers Jon Burton.
'We were trying to reinforce where the main PA would begin to roll off, below 50Hz - to give the audience a greater physical perception normally only associated with much higher levels.'
Martin Audio went into production of the 12 enclosures only once Chris Hill and Geoff Muir had given them the nod following listening tests, and Baird duly adapted the ASX design to come up with a single 21' touring box.
The 21' sub was earmarked for spot effects rather than used continuously - thereby helping to maintain the level constraints, to the relief of promoters SJM and Metropolis, and noise consultants Vanguardia, who were policing the sound.
Because of space constraints the 12 boxes were set in a straight line in front of the stage apron, but arranged into a curved arc digitally, via the processing software. 'We had used our lab-based software to predict the soundfield so I knew exactly what to expect,' said Jason Baird. 'We couldn't have curved it physically because of lack of space.'
He said, 'Although we used a similar array configuration along the stage front at Glastonbury, this was the first time the 21' subs had been used in these quantities - and Jon and I had confidence they would perform.'
The subs were powered by six Martin Audio MA18K amplifiers, and two dedicated DX2 processors for filtering, and delay.
'The array could draw up to 60kW of power,' remarks Jon, 'so we brought in an extra generator to avoid any voltage fluctuations and other power problems. As we were using a single point source, the output was reasonably even, with very little comb filtering. The crossover filters were set to maximize the output between 17-50Hz.'
Summing up, he says, 'Because of the way we used the subs it felt completely different from the L/R design of the main system - and as an effect sub it certainly added the right dynamics.
'With a band where, without the main PA, we measure on average 97dBA at FOH, how you add the extra 2 or 3dB is very important!'
Following on from the success in the summer, Jon again asked Martin Audio for assistance with a brief tour of UK Academy Group venues prior to Christmas, where they previewed songs from the upcoming new album.
Six ASX 21' subs were used to devastating effect. Driven once more by Martin Audio amplifiers and processors they were used to augment the house systems as well as providing spot effects at others, in addition to a large system supplied, once more, by Wigwam.
'I was very pleased with the way the subs worked indoors,' says Burton. 'I was once again looking for something to come in under the system, to add a dramatic amount of lows. They certainly did that, and even the band commented on the sub in the room … a compliment indeed!'
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: Prodigy in action on the recent Academy tour