Described as an audio graveyard for sound designers, the ballroom at the Novotel Hammersmith presented no such pitfalls for Manchester-based VME when they were asked to provide sound reinforcement for the recent 2013 TPi Awards.
“Everyone has had a crack at it, and this time it was our turn,” said VME director Dion Davie. “We knew that performing in front of all our industry peers would be challenging.”
VME were early adopters of Martin Audio’s MLA platform, and turned to an MLA Compact solution for the main arena, rigging six elements either side of the stage which were used in conjunction with a further four providing a central hang to ensure a good, even coverage over a very wide area. This arced out into the banqueting room, where Lauren Laverne presented this year’s awards.
The array was underpinned by four DSX subs, while Martin Audio X12+’s were used as outfills, and were discreetly hidden behind the LED screens that formed the set to provide coverage at the tables that fell slightly off-axis from the arrays. Martin Audio DD6’s were used as stage front fills and foldback due to their compact size and innovative differential dispersion horn.
There was also a low-level area at the rear for which VME also provided reinforcement. “The trick was to get the two MLA Compact arrays and distributed systems syncing up, seamlessly with each other,” said Davie. Fortunately three Martin Audio DX2 (4-in 8-out) dedicated management systems provided all DSP necessary. System tech Mark Edwards used Smaart software to time align the entire system; when the presenter moved from the main stage to the smaller B stage, an alternative snapshot was recalled from the DX2’s to reconfigure the system.
“We knew the MLA Compact would cover the main area, and mapped the room on the MLA [Display v2.1] software to achieve the optimisation,” said Dion Davie.
VME’s Ben Hyman project managed the event, Steve Brierley mixed the sound and Martin Shaw, assisted by Mark Edwards and Martin Audio’s Nigel Meddemmen, were system techs.
Hyman stated, “The two main requirements for the system were coverage and clarity — particularly at the back — ensuring that every person, no matter where they were sat, could hear the audio at the right level. And we certainly achieved that.”
Dion Davie added, “Guests were absolutely gobsmacked by the sound quality for the first time in the history of the event. Judging from the number of calls it was an outstanding success and we feel we have set a benchmark.”
Ben Chadwick, Event Manager at organisers, Mondiale Publishing, agreed. "We got the sound absolutely right this year. Because of ceiling height variations it's a tricky room to provide even coverage with high intelligibility — but we completely nailed it.”