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Martin Audio’s MLA takes on Coventry’s Godiva Festival

Taking place at the beginning of this month, Stage Audio Services took care of the festival's sound

Coventry’s Godiva Festival sported Martin Audio’s MLA system when it took place at the beginning of this month.

Godiva Festival, which is located in the City’s War Memorial Park, began as a free festival back in 1997. For much of the event’s life Chris ‘Stan’ Saunders has been overseeing its evolving technology requirements with Stage Audio Services (SAS).

This year the event, which now imposes a nominal admission fee for the 120,000 who attend over the weekend, headlined with The Levellers, Feeder and Busted on the respective days.

SAS owner, Kevin Mobberley, stated: “We’ve been providing event services for Godiva since the year 2000, but this is the first year we have used [Martin Audio’s] MLA PA. Previously, we have used other brands.”

This public park is a highly sensitive noise area, and acousticians Vanguardia are contracted to measure sound propagation and set offsite thresholds—something that the advanced controllability of MLA is equal to meeting. “MLA was our natural choice,” said Mobberley, “and we pushed the organisers in that direction.”

They rigged the full-sized MLA, nine elements per side, with 10 MLX subwoofers in a cardioid array along the front. Three MLA Compact enclosures provided near-fills and four DD12’s were also on hand should any other gaps have needed plugging in the coverage pattern.

One of the key challenges was the proximity of the two stages, but with programming in the capable hands of Saunders, a fully-qualified MLA operative, sound spillage was kept to a minimum. “I have used MLA quite a few times and it was good to give it some profile at this event,” he said.

The main problem with the Council-run event, he continued, was that the field itself is ‘shifting’ after heavy usage at Radio 2’s Big Weekend. “We’ve moved all over the park with the various stages—but now we have it the best we can to avoid complaints.” He confirms that they were able to meet Vanguardia’s propagation figures of 75dB(A) offsite on Friday and Saturday and further reduction to 70dB(A) on Sunday.

“I assessed the sound after the Friday night and then re-optimised the PA using DISPLAY software to put in a ‘hard avoid’ setting for Saturday and Sunday. Vanguardia were pleased we were able to do this and we achieved the level we wanted for the stage, particularly for Busted on the Sunday, with no issues,” he continued.

As for the audience sound, measured at the FOH mix position, the target level was set at 98dB-99dB. “But we were able to bring it up to just over 100dB without problem,” he added.

The contribution to that figure from the low end was substantial, but highly controlled in the hands of the experienced technical crew. Saunders, who aside from system teching, was FOH supervisor and crew chief, explained: “We have been doing cardioid design for sub arrays for a long time, and combined with using a ‘hard avoid’ setting for the MLA arrays we managed to significantly reduce the sound to the rear. It also sounded much better, smoother and more even as you walked through the crowd than in recent years.”