MLA Compact makes impact at Olympic Stadium

When the annual Müller Anniversary Games took place over two days at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Stadium recently, the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, came face to face with Martin Audio’s own medal-winning MLA loudspeaker system, provided by rental partner and leading contractor, RG Jones Sound Engineering.

Contracted by event organisers British Athletics, RG Jones fielded Martin Audio’s MLA Compact and MLX subwoofers to augment the house PA. This provided additional coverage and impact to the lower tiers of the Olympic Stadium and at the same time enhanced the low frequencies.

According to RG Jones’ project engineer Jack Bowcher, this greatly boosted the audience experience. Having worked the event for the past three years – along with British Athletics’ Birmingham Diamond League at Alexander Stadium in June – this was the first time they had upgraded from Martin Audio’s conventional line array to the award-winning MLA multi-cellular platform.

“MLA Compacts were ground-stacked on a single MLX sub – we were able to hit the back of the lower tier with a little help from DISPLAY [Martin Audio’s proprietary software], which was great both for LF optimisation and the ability to adjust MLA Compact’s coverage,” reported Bowcher. In addition, production took advantage of Martin Audio’s Differential Dispersion technology by placing several DD6’s in the press conference and VIP suites.

RG Jones once again rolled out its Dante based audio system. “Utilising a combination of Yamaha QL5, Rio 1608-D racks and Lake LM44’s we were able to receive and distribute audio throughout the stadium. In addition, our recently purchased single mode fibre gave us the capability to integrate into the house fibre infrastructure.

“The radio mic system is vital for the presentation. We favour the Sennheiser EM-3732 for the infield presenters, allowing them the flexibility to address the audience and liaise with the show caller from the same source. Our RF Venue Optix RFoF kit works across all corners of the site and we were able to hear them loud and clear,” states Jack.

But there were plenty of other challenges for the sound team. RG Jones needed to work discreetly to ensure their technology did not interfere with the athletes, working with camera and audience site lines, and multiple PA positions, which were not set equidistant from the audience. Consequently, MLA system tech, Mark Edwards, had to create different optimisations for each individual stack as distances between the MLA and audience changed as they worked to obtain clear sight lines for the benefit of the BBC.

Source feeds included commentators’ mics, infield presenters, VT playback, music, stings (to signal the start of all track and field events) and other playback, with RG Jones also providing feeds for the BBC and CT Video OB. All were distributed with pristine clarity over single-mode fibre via their new Dante-based audio system.

The sound engineer responsible for mixing all this, and building the atmosphere leading up to events, was Peter Key. “We tend to choose appropriate tracks depending on the events and also use sound effects to enhance selected field events, such as javelin ‘whooshes’ – triggered live to the action,” he said.

“The Anniversary Games is a multi-sports meeting and various factors can affect the scheduled start of events. It is therefore vital that the audio playback equipment is sufficiently flexible to cope with such demands. A large amount of redundancy is built into the system so should something fail a back-up option is available.”

Summing up the event, Jack Bowcher said, “MLA gave us improved coverage and high impact audio thanks to the MLX subs, and was more compact than the previous system.”

Major events director was Terry Colton, while RG Jones’ project manager was Matt Sussex and account manager was RG Jones director, Andrew Williamson.


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