RG Jones Engineering returned to Worthy Farm following its fallow year to deploy Martin Audio systems across four major stages of the Glastonbury Festival.
While Martin Audio’s MLA sound system once again graced the Pyramid main stage as well as West Holts and the Genosys stage of Block9, the company’s Wavefront Precision Longbow (WPL) made its festival debut on the new IICON stage featuring an immersive 6.1 channel surround sound system designed by Simon Honywill.
The stages bustled with electrifying performances throughout the three-day festival from the likes of Stormzy, The Killers, The Cure, Sheryl Crow, Liam Gallagher, Janet Jackson, Bastille, and Kylie Minogue.
The system deployed on the Pyramid Stage was designed to maximise SPL levels and even coverage for the 150,000 strong audience while respecting offsite limits. A total of 72 MLA comprised the four main hangs with a further four MLA Compact arrays for infill flown from the proscenium arch. Eight delay positions in an inner and outer ring consisted of MLA and MLA Compact arrays to optimise coverage across the expansive field. A massive broadside cardioid array of 38 MLX subwoofers stretched across the entire width of the stage to provide sub-bass support and control to the entire system.
Martin Audio’s unique MLA technology enables very fine control of how each array covers its designated audience area. Acoustic cells housed within each cabinet are independently controlled by their own amplifier and DSP channel, a total of six in each MLA. This control allowed RG Jones to specify exactly what SPL and frequency response was required across the audience, with the intelligent software automatically controlling the array to produce that result. As Ben Milton, system tech, commented, “This amounted to just a 3dB drop off over the 200m-plus long audience area, with incredibly even frequency response.”
For headliners The Killers it was reported they could play at 106dBA – the first time such high levels have been achieved in the history of Glastonbury – while corresponding offsite levels registered as 62dBA, the limit being 65dBA. Kenny Kaiser, FOH engineer for The Killers, had nothing but praise. “I’ve been touring with MLA for the last five years, but I’ve not had much experience with it outdoors and I was a little scared. But this system was phenomenal, everything was there, and MLA still has a very long lifespan in my opinion,” he said.
Meanwhile, West Holts enjoyed some equally stellar performances from the likes of Lizzo, Janelle Monae, Jorja Smith, Wu Tang Clan and Jeff Goldblum, and thanks to an upgraded audio deployment those performances connected perfectly to the audience. This year, West Holts had 14 MLA per side, an out hang on house left of six MLA Compact and a house right outfill of eight MLA Compact which helped to extend coverage out to the Pathway to extend arena space. 21 MLX subwoofers deployed in a cardioid pattern kept noise on stage to a minimum but carried significant energy to the audience. Two hangs of 16 MLA Compact delays were positioned 95 metres from the stage and extended coverage for another 75 metres before tapering off sharply using Martin Audio’s Hard Avoid feature to prevent sound spilling into market stalls. As system tech, Jack Bowcher, commented, “This was a massive improvement from two years ago, with better quality audio through the field and better containment as well.”
Over on Block9 – a collection of EDM stages – MLA Compact was once again deployed on the Genosys stage, a massive, 70 ft-high post-industrial piece of architecture draped with exotic plants and steaming tubes, at the centre of which was a DJ booth. Sean Hatton, system tech, described the set up. “We’ve got 10 MLA Compact aside with six DSX subs either side of stage. Some of the issues of the site this year has been massive changes in temperature, from searing heat in the day to then very cold at night, but the snapshots that are easily uploaded in an instant without artefacts has meant we have been able to keep the coverage patterns we need. It’s been great.”
The real highlight of Block9 this year, however, was the new IICONIC stage featuring a huge human head wrapped in a VR headset evoking the pervasive nature of technology on the human spirit. The visual spectacular was matched with Martin Audio’s WPL making its festival debut in an immersive surround sound system designed by RG’s Simon Honywill, Consultant Sound Engineer for the festival.
“I thought that rather than just having this incredible structure and then just straight forward left right standard deployment, let’s go a bit crazy and do it in surround sound,” said Honywill. “So we had six hangs of ten WPL all pointing inwards with optimisation of the sound fields to maximise the experience through the space for a 15,000 crowd. A single 23-metre long SHX218 sub array in a broadside cardioid pattern provided the thumping bass, but also control too. Each night there was a specially-commissioned presentation where the stage structure is projection mapped combined with 6.1 surround audio which worked highly effectively. Then for the DJ sets we used a Trinnov Altitude 32 system to effectively up mix the stereo output to the 6.1 surround system and the results of that, were frankly outstanding.”
Summing up, John Carroll, Managing Director of RG Jones Sound Engineering, said, “It’s an honour and privilege for RG Jones to once again be at the forefront of the Glastonbury Festival. From headliners to all-night dance music this was a triumphant year and we are so pleased with the feedback from audiences, engineers and organisers to what we were able to deliver. My thanks also to Martin Audio who provided such unwavering support in the planning and execution this year and we can’t wait for next year and the 50th Anniversary of Glastonbury Festival.”
In closing, Dom Harter, Managing Director of Martin Audio added, “What sets Martin Audio apart is its signature sound that can faithfully reinforce the eclectic artists and musical genres that Glastonbury Festival offers. Combine this with our unique technology that optimises sound coverage, consistency and control and we are able to unite massive audiences while respecting other stages and surrounding local residents. We are grateful to RG Jones for their continued faith and faultless deployment of our systems.”