3G Productions uses a Martin Audio MLA rig for its festivals, including the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, to help project the sound of the festivals’ EDM music, while not interfering with the other stages. Photo courtesy of 3G Productions
At multi-stage music festivals, especially those taking place in inner city areas, sound control has become a critical issue for production providers. With pattern control often “baked-in” to the design of many speaker products—through DSP, module design or a combination of the two—physical positioning of the elements is often employed in order to minimize spillage between stages or into nearby residences.
3G Productions, which has offices in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, had pattern control very much in mind when purchasing a new Martin Audio MLA rig. The initial system, delivered in 2013, includes 32 MLA and MLD (downfill) modules, 24 MLX subs and 24 MLA Compact enclosures.
“One of the things that we were running into at a lot of these outdoor festivals was the noise abatement issue,” explains Keith Conrad, chief operating officer, 3G. As he knows from experience, at inner city festivals such as those in San Francisco, where the company has deployed systems, the ability of sound to carry hundreds of yards and even miles can result in dozens of complaint calls. “So when we looked at Martin, to be able to control that throw, and have that drop off, was what really attracted us to the product.”
Conrad says of Martin Audio’s tight pattern control, “It feels, in general, like it’s a more cutting edge technology; I think they’re one of the first that was able to successfully do this. And it helps not only with noise abatement, but controlling the sound with the other stages. We’ve utilized it not just for EDM festivals—we’ve used it for other music, too, and the response from the engineers has been very, very good.”
He adds, “I’ll say the one thing about this system—it’s a great sounding box. And the MLX subs are extremely powerful. The EDM artists and crews, particularly, were blown away by the subs.”
Not every music festival demands such control, of course. At the Montréal International Jazz Festival, for instance, there are multiple stages in the downtown area but the performances alternate, with no overlap, and there is a strict curfew, according to David Brazeau, senior audio project manager at Solotech. But the production provider—which is headquartered in Montréal with five other offices across Canada plus one in Las Vegas—certainly runs into noise issues at other local festivals.
“We use Meyer Sound LEO at the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, Heavy Montréal and îleSoniq Music Festival, which are three festivals back-to-back over three weekends on Parc Jean-Drapeau,” which is located on a large island adjacent to the city in the St. Lawrence River. Osheaga, which hosted the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Jack White and Outkast at the 2014 event, comprises six stages. “We typically are the main supplier for the local producer,” says Brazeau. “It was mostly Meyer Sound. One stage was L-Acoustics dV-Dosc. îleSoniq was two stages; we used Meyer. But the DJ requirement for monitors are pretty much always the same—L-Acoustics Karas throughout.”
Brazeau continues, “We have had several complaints over the years from neighborhoods on the south shore. Those festivals run for three days, starting at noon and running until 11:30 or midnight. They are really reluctant to have that much noise for that long a period. But this year , the way we deployed the system, having more delays, and with the system aiming down, helped us a little bit.”
Meyer Sound’s Calisto DSP is a handy tool, especially for managing and optimizing the sound quickly, says Brazeau, but Solotech’s approach on these festivals was more about physical placement. “We took an approach of tilting down the mains and having the delays tilt down. We rented really high towers in order to tilt them down a lot. Because there’s a little bit of a bump at the end of the terrain—it’s kind of a 30- or 35-foot elevation—when you’re trying to shoot there, depending on the weather conditions, wind, atmospherics, you get some interaction with this, and obviously that’s an undesirable effect. So we tried to keep the spillage on the side rather than overshooting it.”