Former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown launched his critically acclaimed solo project around the UK at the end of 2009, kicking off in Ireland in November and culminating in front of an appreciative crowd in his home town of Manchester in December. The ‘God-like genius’ received rave reviews from fans and critics alike, not least due to audio support from the Turbosound Flex Array PA system.
The final show of the tour at the Manchester Evening News Arena on December 19th was an exercise in true collaboration between three UK Turbosound rental companies: South Coast-based Metro Audio; Manchester-based STS; and Viking Sound from Northallerton, Derby.
For the show at the MEN arena – at 20,000 seats the largest indoor arena in Europe – the safe choice of PA system for the venue would have been a large format line array. However according to STS’s director Paul Collis, Flex Array’s exceptional efficiency and high output proved to be more than up to the task of delivering the goods.
“Even though on paper Flex Array would be considered a small box for the room,” explains Collis, “it has plenty of level. It was loud, and it was clear – Ian Brown’s is a loud band, and although we were running at around 104 to 105dB at front of house we still had headroom. Even the venue staff commented on how clear the sound was.”
Preparations for the MEN show started early. Turbosound’s Dan Orton ran advance EASE plots of the venue, which determined the number of loudspeaker boxes required to do the job and their exact location, thereby removing any trial and error from the process of configuring the PA.
The resulting EASE plots called for main left and right PA hangs consisting of nine TFA-600H narrow dispersion and three TFA-600HW wide dispersion mid/highs per side, with out-fill hangs of eight TFA-600H mid/highs per side to cover the bleachers. An additional three TFA-600H’s were ground-stacked as outer side-of-stage fills. A total of 30 TSW-218 double 18” horn-loaded subs were ground stacked for solid sub-bass support in five-high columns each side of the stage, powered by Turbosound T-90 amplifiers.
Delay clusters were hung at 43 metres, in line with the FOH position, and consisted of four hangs of six TFA-600H narrow mid/highs, giving 130° of horizontal coverage. In all a total of 16 LMS series controllers were networked using TurboDrive software to provide complete control of the system. Amplification for the whole system was provided entirely by Turbosound T-25, T-45 and T-90 amplifiers.
Even with three PA companies involved, each was responsible for their own part of the PA and the rigging and setup went surprisingly smoothly. “It was easy to work together,” says Viking Sound’s Steve Williams. “We all knew exactly what we had to do from the results of the EASE plots, and having Dan Orton there to tune the PA with TurboDrive made the setup very easy.”
Even a request from the promoter to raise all the PA hangs to improve sightlines proved to be an easy work-around for the TurboDrive control software. “Because each group of three cabinets basically came back to its own control channel, it was easy to compensate for the extra height by re-aligning the lower boxes and then simply raising the level and trimming the groups – all from a laptop at the FOH position,” adds Williams.
The sound quality and coverage from such a small PA was exceptional, according to Collis. “The drums and percussion in the band makes for a complex mix, but all the detail was there with more than enough level.”
Systems techs for STS were Paul Danson and Joe Heaton; Metro City PA’s crew consisted of Paz “Taxi” Brennan and Bjorn “Again” Gale, with support from Dan Orton and Paul McMullan from Turbosound.