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Aspect Reigns with Kings of Leon
Brit Nominees Kings of Leon rock! Full on rock needs a full on sound system and Britannia Row’s Turbosound Aspect system is giving the band just what it needs. Their first experience of Aspect was for the initial part of the European tour earlier in the year, when the band and Front of House engineer Brent Rawlings (pictured) decided they loved the system.
But Rawlings wanted even more. “I guess any sound engineer likes to have twice as much as they really need,” he had noted. And with the system expanded from 18 stacks of TA-890 to 36 stacks, along with the original six TSW-218 subs now numbering 14, he’s got far more than he wished for. Additionally, at Wembley Arena, limited sight seats were sold to the side of the stage, so Rawlings added in a single point hang, using just one cabinet of TQ445DP to augment the system for those that were effectively sitting behind the PA.
“The system is covering really well, I’m impressed,” says Rawlings, speaking near the end of the UK leg. “We are working on how to set things up so that when you have two stacks of bottom there’s not just one strip of intense sub down the very middle of the PA. We want to have a very evenly dispersed bottom end everywhere and that takes a little experimentation, but we will get something nice.”
The tour has taken in arena-sized venues and, generally speaking, the system has comprised two hangs of TA-890H and L flown five wide by five deep with a TA-500HM trapezoidal hi mid high downfill enclosure beneath each hang. “These are wedge shaped boxes that can face at a very steep angle towards the people that are standing underneath them and will cover right up to the stage,” says Rawlings.
“This is a five way system and some of the bass speakers are being flown as part of that five wide five deep to get some bottom end in the air. We’re doing this because if you are sitting off to the side of the stage and you have a cluster of speakers pointing at you, which are treble, hi mid and low mid, it might just be a little harsh. Adding in some bass means you can feel a little pressure on your chest from the other instruments. Sometimes we have been using as many as 14 of the sub boxes, but we don’t have them turned up as much as we have them stacked higher to get a better spread of bass. The way Turbosound has its rigging set up is nice because you can bend the array around to accommodate whatever you need to: if you have a really, really wide room then you can wrap that cluster around.
“We are experimenting as much as possible to try to get rid of what we call ‘power alley’ to make the bass nice for everybody, not just a select few. This problem has been around for a long time and you see different people trying different methods to alleviate it. Danny Cooklin from Turbosound has turned me onto a few different methods that I hadn’t heard of before. A big part of it to is trying to keep everything going forwards, as opposed to wrapping around itself and coming up on the stage and messing with the band. I am trying to shake the body of the person that is in the back of the arena without affecting the band.”
As for the first part of the tour, foldback is from Turbosound TFM-450 wedges and the entire system is powered via Turbosound-badged MC2 T-25 and T-45 amplifiers, with system technician Jon Crawley and Danny Cooklin using CAD simulation software for initial set up of the system in each venue. “It’s a nice way of doing things,” says Rawlings. “Jon can move the perspective point all the way around a venue and effectively be sitting near that person who bought that limited sight seat. That way, he can rig the speakers just right. We also have Colin Burell on the crew. Like Jon he is very scientific and the collaboration of these two guys means that we get some great results.”
Speaking of the relative merits of point source versus line array, Rawlings adds: “People carry line array for truck space and ease of install - and rightly so. It does have a certain kind of clarity, but to me it seems like it was designed for the business world to do corporate speaking. It is very, very easy to get a vocal to sit out in front of a mix on a line array, but then the rest of the instruments kind of suffer because there is nothing very rock and roll about corporate speaking.
“There is something about rock and roll that should be a bunch of boxes and pushing a bunch of air.” Aspect, he feels, gives him just that. “I’ve had a lot of compliments from complete strangers in the audience. For the lay observer who doesn’t know me, or anything about sound, to come up and say something makes it worth my while and I know I am doing my job well.
“I’m pleasing the audience and that’s what I am really here for. If I don’t have to work hard to make the show sound decent, I just get to sit there and enjoy. When everything comes together, I can look up and the lights look great, the crowd’s way into it and I get chills. That’s when you know it’s a good one!”
23rd January 2008
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