PLASA show comes at the end of a whirlwind two months which has seen the MLA system amaze audiences in Europe — on the highly successful Fettes Brot tour (including the 15,000-seat Lanxess Arena in Cologne); debut in London at the highly-prestigious, month-long iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse … and now establish itself Stateside, on tour with Grammy Award winning country artists, The Zac Brown Band.
Introduced to an exclusive circle of customers at prolight+sound show
2010 in Frankfurt, Germany, Martin Audio gave a UK exhibition debut to its MLA Multicellular Loudspeaker Array at PLASA 2010
in London. MLA is designed to deliver exceptionally consistent sound up to over 150 metres. Whether it is a 2,000 capacity theatre, a 20,000-seat arena, or a 100,000 festival site, MLA is supposed to translate the engineer's mix throughout the audience with precision, power and clarity.
Combining Martin Audio's touring legacy with optimisation software and a cellular array design, MLA delivers coverage and consistency which - according to Martin Audio - has not been possible with traditional touring line arrays. Martin Audio R&D Director Jason Baird explains, "Our primary aim with MLA was to take the guesswork out of daily system design and enable the engineer's mix to be delivered throughout an audience with precision, consistency and repeatability. Based on the amazingly consistent results we experienced during the system's German tour debut, and now with the Zac Brown Band tour in the US, we are even more convinced that MLA is a game-changing product.”
"MLA is beyond anything I've ever experienced," stated Jeffrey Cox, VP of Martin Audio. "After spending three days on tour, and experiencing MLA's amazing consistency in coverage, and what's easily the broadest stereo image of anything out there, I can honestly say MLA changes everything - and is the new standard for live-sound performance and technology."
Live in Hamburg:
A mouthful of promises, so pro-music-news.com took the opportunity of major German act Fettes Brot performing at O2 World in Hamburg to actually find out if all this was more than just marketing language. Straight from the arrival at the arena, André Rauhut - first proud owner of an MLA system since early 2010 and also long term Martin Audio user - explained the setup and the testing process of the flown part and the ground-stacked bit of the MLA setup. Using a CAD drawing of the venue, the arrays and the stacks had been positioned precisely. Ahead of the first sound being reproduced, the software had calculated the individual settings of the arrays' loudspeaker cells to achieve best possible sound at the 'Point of Listening'. Although an MLA array looks like a common line array, it works differently. While a line array produces coherent wavefronts to project sound over the distance, MLA follows a radically different approach by calculating the best possible result at the 'Point of Listening' itself and therefore adjusting the individual speakers in a different way - and it actually works! The sound at the audience definitely is smooth and consistent wherever you walk from the ground floor to the upper sections, even moving a couple of hundred meters following the arena's shape. According to the technical crew on site, the MLA system actually requires less hardware and less effort to setup.
The result of many years of intensive R&D, MLA's methodology replaces trial-and-error array design with intelligent numerical optimisation of the array's output based on a highly accurate acoustic model. The multi-cellular format has six individual cells in each enclosure - each with its own onboard DSP and power amplification.
A 24-enclosure array has 144 cells - too great a number to optimise manually or by ear. Martin Audio‘s proprietary Display 2.0 system design software automatically calculates FIR DSP filters for each cell and a redundant-ring audio network (U-NET) downloads the settings into each array enclosure. Martin's VU-NET software provides real time control and monitoring of the system. The software runs on a tablet PC that is provided as part of the MLA system.
MLA features an even frequency response and SPL over audience areas; a very high system output (140dB peak, per cabinet @1m); Automatic optimisation of array, both physically (splay angles) and electronically (DSP); Computer control and monitoring of the entire system, and total control of sound system balance for engineers and sound technicians.
Additional features include 90° x 7.5° dispersion; a compact size (1136mm wide x 372mm high x 675mm deep/ 44.7in x 14.6in x 26.5in), one-box-fits-all (festivals to theatres) application range and a global voltage, power factor corrected power supply.
Also on display at PLASA 2010 was the MLX powered, flyable subwoofer capable of a peak output of 150dB @ 1m, and MLD downfill (being shown for the first time) as the components of a system managed by the Merlin 4-in/10-out dedicated controller and network hub. Audio input is via analogue, AES3 or U-NET.