XTA Mighty Sound for Mighty Men

Posted by | March 18, 2014 | | No Comments

Northwind Recording appointed Gearhouse South Africa to team up, design and supply the largest ever line array PA system to date to be used in the country, for the 3 day 2009 Mighty Men Conference (MMC 09), staged at the Shalom Farm, Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal.

Comprising 172 L-Acoustics speaker enclosures – a mix of VDOSC, dV-DOSC, Kudo and SB28 subs – in-the-round show featured a main stage system and two delay rings at 100 and 180 metres respectively from the centre, calculated to cover a sound-field radius of 300 metres/600 metre diameter.

The event has become an annual pilgrimage drawing people from all denominations and cultural groups within South Africa as well as Australia, UK and USA.

The goal of the weekend is to gather men to pray, to worship and unite and heal broken families. The ministry and teaching is headed up by evangelist preacher Angus Buchan. The event has rapidly grown over the last five years to what has now attracted over 130,000 people – all of whom needed to clearly see and hear the onstage action.

The 360 degree audio system was designed by Revil Baselga and modelled using Soundvision software. He chose L-Acoustics to provide crystal clear speech intelligibility and uniform coverage across the vast area, and this also had to accommodate a band.

The stage had a curved roof with clear skins supplied by Gearhouse sister company In2Structures, and was combined with a StageCo roof grid system minus the standard roof tarps. From this, four hangs of 8 VDOSC elements each with 2 dV-DOSC downfills were flown, complemented with dV front fills along each of the 4 lips of the stage.

Around the first 100 metre delay ring were 2 hangs of 8 VDOSC a side on the east/west axis, and 4 flown hangs of 6 Kudos on the 60 degree lines around that circumference, all rigged on 10 metre high towers.

For the outer delay ring, 4 stacks each with 6 Kudo speakers were positioned at the north/south/east/west/orientations, ground stacked at 6 metres high. Between each of these were 4 delays – of 4 dV-DOSC boxes each – also at 6 metres off the ground.

The 32 SB28 subs were located at each corner of the stage, stacked in a cardioid pattern, with 8 firing in each direction.

The show was engineered by Niklas Fairclough owner of Northwind Recording. Niklas chose to go analogue on this with a Midas XL3 console, complete with a 16 channel extender, and an immense amount of outboard gear – some supplied by Gearhouse and some of his own. The outboard count included 14 Drawmer gates, 8 channels of dbx 160SL and 6 of 160 4 channels of summit DCL200, BSS C2s, 4 EL8x Distressors, Avalon 747s and Avalon 737s and numerous effects. FOH was co-ordinated for Gearhouse by Adriaan van der Walt.

Monitors were run on a Yamaha MCL7 console fitted with Aviom card, complete with 6 Sennheiser G2 IEM systems and Aviom mixers. Twelve Clair Brothers 12AM wedges were used for vocal monitors – 3 on each side of the stage, with a 3-way split going to the record truck. The stage action was overseen for Gearhouse by Tom Gordon.

L-Acoustics amplification was also utilised throughout – the VDOSC powered by LA8 amps, with LA48s for the dvs and Kudos, 82 in total, along with 14 XTA crossovers – a mix of 224s, 226s and 426s. The amps were all networked, the LAs run over Ethernet and controlled via LA Network, and the XTAs run via RS485 managed with their proprietary Audiocore programme.

The time alignment was a massive challenge, and a fabulous result was achieved by systems engineer Jacob de Wit with a little help from SMAART.