RG Jones shines on the Pyramid Stage

The opening of Coldplay's Glastonbury set (photo: Mike Lethby)

6 July 2011

UK - For the fourth year running RG Jones Sound Engineering provided the audio production for Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage. The London based company, celebrating its 85th anniversary, supplied a Synco by Martin Audio PA, a custom designed Synco sub-bass array and Synco stage monitor systems. Additional crew and matching equipment came from fellow Synco Network members Ampco Flashlight of Holland, in a classic example of the network's international cooperation.

The production, for a bill headlined by U2, Coldplay, Beyoncé, Paul Simon, Elbow, Paulo Nutini, Pendulum, Plan B, Morrissey, B B King and Biffy Clyro, was based on last year's highly successful Pyramid Stage setup. It saw the team once again maximise audience sound levels while attracting virtually zero complaints from local residents, quite some achievement in Glastonbury's notoriously tricky environment.

The PA was a Martin Audio W8L Longbow rig, with a total of 64 cabinets flown in 16-deep dual inner and outer main PA hangs per side, and a further 64 W8LCs flown in four delay positions, all timed using SMAART. Loudspeaker control was via XTA DP448 digital controllers, with Klark Teknik DN360 for engineers' 'grab' EQ.

A cardioid broadside sub-bass array of Synco triple-18" woofers, custom made for the Synco Network by Martin Audio, provided thunderous and tightly controlled bass that the array's design prevented from feeding back onto stage or interfering with the sound of other stages.

The array has been refined over the past three years, in conjunction with noise monitoring specialists RPS Planning & Development, to satisfy the complex demands of maximising audience enjoyment while containing the sound in the Pyramid Stage arena.

FOH was handled by project manager Steve Carr of RG Jones and Hugo Scholten, with Mark Edwards as system engineer, supported by PA rigger Remco Verhoek and Martin Audio R&D director Jason Baird supporting the system design effort.

At the front-of-house mix position, a pair of 48-channel Midas XL4 consoles handled the core mix duties along with a Digidesign Profile, all supplied by RG Jones. Fewer visiting engineers than ever before brought their own consoles, simplifying changeovers, with a Midas Pro6 and DiGiCo SD7 in use for several bands. All consoles were matrixed via two Midas XL88 mixers.

The stage was headed by Mark Isbister with Alistair Viles, Matt Sussex and Tim Wann, and monitor engineers Steve Watson and Ben Milton. A pair of Yamaha PM5D consoles streamlined stage operation, along with the team's usual Yamaha LS9 'shout' board. Isbister commented, "The equipment was very similar to last year's; we know we've got a formula that works including ARCs side-fills and Synco wedges."

He adds, "More bands than ever this year used our FOH and monitor desks, partly I think because more bands are aware of what's available, and we fulfill an element of being caretakers: here's your wire and power, and off you go.

"Likewise, quite a few big bands used Synco wedges, they're gaining in acceptance as people get more used to seeing them on the festival circuit here and in Europe, and they're a great wedge, they sound brilliant."

U2, meanwhile, brought a completely self-contained stage system. Says Isbister, "The great thing about that was that Jake Berry, U2's production manager, was on site last year with Shakira, so he'd seen how busy it can be and made some decisions that enabled them to be really streamlined and slick and take up less space on stage.

"Their monitor consoles - one for each member of the band - were housed in a 40' truck parked in the backstage dock, so we didn't have to dedicate any extra stage space to their setup and it worked really well. They were also providing stems for the outside broadcast - the BBC team received 18 sub-mixes from the U2 monitor department."

He concludes, "One of the best moments from our point of view was BB King. He didn't bring an engineer or any equipment, just a basic list of instruments and let us get on with it. Steve Carr mixed him at FOH and our monitor engineers did his stage mix - it was fantastic to have a band just turn up and let us get on with it."

(Jim Evans)

 

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