Cologne, Germany (July 1, 2010)–Martin Audio’s new MLA (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array) recently made its official tour debut with German hip hop band Fettes Brot, ending at Lanxess Arena in Cologne.
Europe’s largest and most modern multi-use arena (with a maximum of 18,000 seats), for concert use, the venue is configured for over 14,000—every one of which was filled. Using 16 MLA hangs per side (and no delays) the system managed to cover a distance of 328 ft. from the arrays, right up to the top bleachers (a height of 118 ft.).
Sound engineer Olli Voges, who has worked with the system throughout the tour, noted, “The venue measures 460 ft. by 394 ft. and it’s 360 ft. to the third balcony.” He said much had been learned about the system since Martyn ‘Ferrit’ Rowe and Complete Audio owner André Rauhut first took over as systems techs. “It was like the time when the first line array came out,” he said. “This system reinvents line array—we have established a new standard.”
The MLA was designed to minimize variations in frequency response, sound pressure levels and set-up times from venue to venue, and operate over distances of up to 492 feet. “We wanted all our shows to be as consistent as possible, night after night, and be able to offer a more accurate predictive analysis of each room by removing the guesswork,” said Martin Audio’s R&D Director, Jason Baird.
With the multi-cellular approach, each cell can be individually addressed by its own DSP (and Class D amplification); thus with six cells in each enclosure, a 24-box system provides 144 uniquely tuned elements. “The beauty is that all the complexity of the DSP is under the hood, so it doesn’t impact on the user,” says Baird.
Martin Audio’s proprietary Display 2.0 system design software automatically calculates FIR DSP filters for each cell and a redundant-ring audio network (U-NET) downloads the settings into each array enclosure. Martin’s VU-NET software provides real time control and monitoring of the system.
With Martyn ‘Ferrit’ Rowe, Martin Audio’s North American-based Technical Training Manager taking on the duties of system tech, Voges observed that the system sounded “absolutely beautiful” from the get-go. “I remember Olli himself hearing it for the first time,” recalls Ferrit, “walking towards the stage and saying ‘It’s not getting any louder.’ And I said ‘Exactly, that’s the idea!” At Lanxess, the 262 feet balconies were less than 1dB quieter than mix and even at the 360 ft. distant and 111 ft. high top balcony seats the level was 4dB down.
“In a way it was mind altering,” said the sound engineer. “Shows in the past at this arena have generally sounded horrible—the acoustic is really tricky. My last show was mixing Aha support band, Stanfour, back in December and I have also worked here with Herbert Grönemeyer—always using different systems. But this was by far the best sound I have achieved—I have never had such a stable sound on any tour.”