Capital turns to Martin Audio, Optocore again for BST Festival

For the third consecutive year, Capital Sound supplied its premium Martin Audio MLA PA system, along with an extended Optocore fibre network, for this year’s ten-day British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park, London.

MLA was once again chosen for its ability to meet both the on- and offsite requirements of promoters AEG Live and sound consultants Vanguardia. And with a number of supplementary stages also requiring coverage this time, Capital was able to field the entire MLA family – even the smaller Compact and Mini versions.

Top acts performing over the two weekends included Blur and Taylor Swift, while The Who took the headline slot on Friday (26 June) – when Audio Media International was in attendance – following sets from the likes of Paul Weller, Kaiser Chiefs and Johnny Marr.

With the site layout now firmly established in order to minimise neighbourhood noise pollution, the rental firm was able to deploy an almost identical set-up as last year, but with minor tweaks to the delay towers and a raising of the main sidehangs to 12.5m from the stage.

On the main 65,000-capacity Great Oak Stage, there were two hangs of 16 x MLA and 1 x MLD Downfill per side, with 12 x MLA and 1 x MLD Downfill for the sidehangs. The sub array consisted of 21 x MLX in a broadside cardioid array, with a further 11 enclosures back facing. Additional W8LM Line Array enclosures provide front fills, while an array of LE1500 floor monitors were also provided for artist monitoring.

Above: The view from FOH for the Great Oak Stage

“Although the decision to raise the trim height was made late in the day, one advantage was that [Martin Audio application engineers] Andy Davies and Chris Pyne could look at predictions and reoptimise this in the software, without needing to make any physical changes,” said Capital Sound’s Martin Connolly, project manager for the main stage.

The area behind the FOH tower and barrier positions had been changed to improve sightlines, necessitating changes to the delay design. This was extended to four lines of in non-concentric arcs (occupying nine positions). The main nine delays comprised 7 x MLA and a single MLD Downfill, supported by a total of 12 MLX subs – while delay positions 10 and 11 each featured eight MLA Compacts.

For the second Barclaycard Stage, eight MLA Compacts were flown on each side with 16 x WS218X subs in a broadside cardioid array, while four W8LC provided front fill sound reinforcement. The only indoor stage was the intimate Sony Unlimited Tent, which was serviced by Martin Audio’s package of four pole-mounted MLA Mini enclosures per side, atop an MSX power plant to cover the low end.

“After three years, we have now evolved a successful formula to optimise the audience experience at Hyde Park. Thanks to the unique functionality of MLA, historic problems with noise escape are now a thing of the past and it was nice to be back on this iconic site.” added Capital’s Paul Timmins, the man responsible for the additional stages, which were capable of holding an additional 5,000 people.

Core Values

Optocore converters have been frequent fixtures at Hyde Park over the past few summers, providing site-wide digital signal transmission over optical fibre.

Prior to the event, Capital had increased its inventory of XR6-FX converters first purchased in 2011 for the Take That Progress Live stadium tour due to the evolution of the site. At BST 2015, this encompassed the ten delay positions as well as the VIP stand, all distributed from the front of house rack.

According to Connolly, this year they used 14 interfaces in a redundant loop from the Avid Profiles at FOH.

“We’re running end-to-end AES, and following an ergonomic route around the site over multi-mode cable loop,” he explained. “Optocore is now a proven science for us, we get different power at every position and one of the many advantages of fibre is it removes the possibility of earth loop as glass isn’t an electrical conductor; therefore hums and buzzes on delays are now a thing of the past."

“Optocore offers an elegant solution. Copper would have given us no end of problems, whereas with Optocore there is no signal loss whatsoever. It gives us complete signal transport reliability and it has become one of the best and most flexible tools at our disposal,” concluded Connolly.