Martin Audio MLA debuts at Hungary’s Sziget Festival

Martin Audio joined the party at this year’s Sziget Festival in Hungary with its MLA Multi-Cellular Loudspeaker Array – the technology’s debut at the festival, and its fifth new festival appearance of the season, courtesy of Capital Sound.

Founded in 1993, the Sziget Festival is hosted on an 108-hectare (266-acre) island on the Danube in north Budapest, Hungary and attracts fans from over 70 countries. The event broke all attendance records on an expanded site, designed to hold a paying audience of 90,000, and at one point numbered 100,000, including production crew, artists and guests.

For production company Capital Sound, now in their tenth year at the week-long event, the challenges were ‘immense’. Tasked with providing sound reinforcement for headliners such as Robbie Williams, Kings of Leon, Florence + The Machine and more, they were working in fierce heat and dusty conditions.

But Capital was eager to showcase MLA, having already fielded it for the Sziget Organisation’s other front line festivals, Balaton Sound in Zamárdi and Volt in Sopron. “The event itself has grown from humble beginnings 22 years ago,” Capital’s Paul Timmins explained. “By the time we got involved in 2006 it was already a good sized festival, and the biggest change since has been in the quality of the production. We wanted to demonstrate the uniqueness of MLA, in terms of control, but really showcase its performance and so this year we made sure the system was designed to give sufficient headroom. We had existing data and graphs but adjusted this to take account of the fact that the stage positioning had moved slightly.

“Although many of the sound engineers had experienced MLA some had not used a system of that size, or where there were no offsite restrictions. Here they could run at full throttle, setting the level where they wanted.”

In terms of durability MLA reportedly met the challenging weather conditions while also running full tilt, as Timmins noted: “With sound checks, the system was running hard from 8am-11pm for each of the seven nights.”

Supervised by PA tech Joseph Pearce at FOH and Hungarian MLA tech, Marci Mezi, the main PA — comprising two 17-element drops and an MLD Downfill at the base —was supported by two side hangs of nine MLA and an MLD Downfill.

Six stacks of three MLX subs per side and four in the centre were designed in a “partial cardioid” arrangement, according to Timmins. “We didn’t need quite as much controllability because there was no sound limit threshold, and this enabled us to create more impact outfront.”

As for the MLA delays, the centre two comprised nine MLA (plus a Downfill), the outer two used six MLA (plus a Downfill) — and a fifth, comprising four MLA Compact accompanied the relay screen immediately behind the mix position, 50m from the stage. LF extension was provided by four WS218X on each delay position in a cardioid fashion.

Other Martin Audio components included 18 W8LM Mini Line Arrays nearfills across the front of the stage and there were a number of stage fills reinforced by Martin Audio WS218X subs.

Summing up, Timmins admitted that this year’s Sziget had been the most demanding festival he had been involved with, but he could scarcely have been happier with the result; he reported that the final day debrief with the local production team revealed the same level of satisfaction: “Having made some great improvements to the stage position, they were blown away with the sound, and going forward we are already talking about a longer-term relationship as a result.”