MARTIN W8LC SETS HIGH STANDARDS FOR LEE EVANS
One of the biggest challenges facing a PA company is to distribute the signal from a single microphone evenly 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 challenge 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' current 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.
During soundcheck at Hallam FM Arena, the artist listened carefully to the playback of his mandolin track at the three different delay points (each containing three clusters of four Martin W8C's). He is 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).
The shows are promoted by Off The Kerb and the production manager is Mark Harris. Capital Sound Hire, meanwhile, were able to draw on their comedic experience gained in the past (notably on Eddie Izzard's Sexie tour).
Their solution for the large-scale shows has been 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.
Comments Mark Harris, 'Production 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 is important, since three landscape LED screens provide a stunning opening sting to the show.
Tour system tech is Ross Anderson although in Sheffield Matt Harman-Trick temporarily took on the additional role.
'It's always difficult to get one man and a mic to sound clear through a venue of this size, and scaling that intricate sound into each venue is the challenge,' says Harman-Trick. 'Our solution has been to use lots of speakers. The delays possibly aren't needed but they really boost that intelligibility.'
Acknowledging that the whole rig is mounted higher than usual, Matt 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 venue of this size - in fact there's not many situations I wouldn't use this in.'
The man in the FOH driving seat, Phil Tame, says that Lee Evans likes 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 peaks at 120dbA) and a barely audible whisper.
Thus he has to compensate for the low signal to gain ratio. 'If you compress too much you will lose the full benefit of his sound effects so it's about drawing a fine line. At the same time you have to ensure the quiet bits can be heard at the back, so sometimes I'll change the threshold on the compressor and back it off a bit.
'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.'
Lee Evans' long-term tour manager is Grazio Abela, while Capital Sound's other crew member is Tom Boothby.
The tour ends on December 12 at London's Wembley Arena.
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