RMB AUDIO ELIMINATES REFLECTIONS WITH MLA COMPACT
Raleigh, NC––Tasked with providing audio for 11 concerts in a row at Dorton Arena featuring artists ranging from Vanilla Ice to comedy artist James Gregory, country stalwart Trace Adkins, Gospel luminary Tamela Mann and Christian Rock's Newsboys, RMB Audio already faced a daunting assignment at this year's NC State Fair.
Factor in the arena's demanding acoustic environment, and the task became even more challenging. As RMB's Systems Engineer Roger Dennis drily points out, 'It's got everything you want; concrete, glass, steel, and hard wooden seats. Plus the arena's an oval, so it's reflections galore.'
Fortunately, the RMB Audio team came equipped with a Martin Audio MLA Compact system to better control the sound in the hall and eliminate reflections. 'The MLA Compact system allowed us to stop the coverage just before it hits the glass in the rear and on the sides of the room,' Roger specifies. 'The system's output control is really precise. It made our job a lot easier while improving the sound quality for all of the acts and the audience.'
The actual system consisted of a main hang with 12 MLA Compact enclosures per side, a side hang with 8 MLA Compacts per side, and 6 Martin Audio W8LMD (downfill) as lip fill. Ample low end was provided by 12 DSX subs ground-stacked in two rows of 6 standing on end with the two outer enclosures slightly angled out.
Asked about the MLA Compact's other attributes, Roger points out the enclosure's lighter weight and wider dispersion, but the main advantage is still its output control capability.
'It used to be when you had someone speaking into a microphone in the arena, the reflections would kill all speech intelligibility. With MLA, that's not a problem. When we first brought it into Dorton three years ago it was quite a shock. Now that we've switched to MLA's for outfill to kill the reflections coming off the glass, the clarity for spoken word has continued to improve dramatically.
'Everyone was pleased with the system, adds Dennis, 'especially Newsboys FOH Engineer John O'Neal who was very impressed with what we could do with the rig because he's been in Dorton before with an older system. One of his last comments to me during this show was 'everything from 300Hz and above is completely clear. We could hear everything.' John and I walked the entire venue during the soundcheck as did several engineers who put their head right next to the glass, and they said it sounded exactly the same as it did down at the mix position.
'That's one of the key things the MLA does that other systems don't. It optimizes for the audience, not the room. The quality of the coverage is consistent from the front of the stage all the way to the back of the arena.'
Summing up, Roger adds, 'We're going to UNC Memorial Hall on the campus of University of North Carolina, a 1600 seat proscenium theater with a really prominent balcony face that is a problem in terms of generating reflections back onto the stage. The MLA Compact allows us to steer around that balcony; we can just slice that section out of the vertical coverage. We've been able to make it so accurate that you can literally stand up out of a seat and you're out of the coverage. It's really amazing.'