Total Production

Rob Ashworth of Audile

18 December 2009 15.37 BST

Audile’s involvement in long-standing soul/groove festival Southport Weekender has spanned 12 events. Rob Ashworth reflects on the ethos and approach that has seen a Funktion One-based sound system evolve.

How did you first get involved in the Southport Weekender?
We’ve been involved with Southport for so long that I can’t actually remember when our first show was — I think it was 2003, though, and we’ve done 12 weekenders! We were initially brought in just to cover the Bacardi B-Bar, having been introduced to Alex Lowe by the Tribal Gathering guys, who used us for their weekender at Southport in 2003. Our Funktion One system, which was relatively unknown at the time, went down a storm — Giles Peterson was so impressed he got on the mic at the start of his set to say so, and we had punters coming up all night to thank us too!

So we continued with the B-Bar for the next couple of weekenders, but the results we were getting were casting the main room system in a bad light. The Southport crowd are very passionate about sound and outspoken in their opinions, so the main room supplier was asked to put in a more modern system. The line array system they installed actually proved to be a step backward in quality, though, and we were asked to provide Funktion One for all four rooms on the next event, and have ever since.

Has the system evolved since then?
The systems have remained more-or-less the same spec since day one — I’m proud to say we nailed it the first time round, and there’s been no reason to change! In the main room, we did actually start with six Resolution-5 speakers per side stacked two-over-four, which is normal for a room of this size, but then tried knocking the top row of two speakers off, and found that four per side handled it perfectly. And when Funktion One brought the new double-21” subs out, Southport was the first gig we tried them on, and everyone was blown away again, ourselves included! So three per side of F-221A replaced six per side of F-218 a couple of years back.

Has the event embraced the digital domain over the years?
The main room features some pretty hefty live bands, so we run a Midas Heritage 3000 console at front-of-house. We don’t have to deal with band changeovers so there’s no need for the recall facilities of a digital board, so there’s no question that analogue is still the way to go for this show. The main room can trace its roots back to disco and the early days of U.S. house, and sound was a hugely important part of that scene. At Southport we stay true to the audio purism that guys like Richard Long pursued at the legendary venues like Paradise Garage and Studio 54, and it’s appreciated by everyone — artists, punters and visiting engineers alike.

And the rest of the system?
So alongside Midas and Funktion One, we use XTA processing and MC2 amps. The sound of this signal chain is perfect for Southport; it’s pure, fantastically detailed and above-all involving. The live acts feature incredibly gifted vocalists and musicians, and serious heart and soul is put into every performance. Funktion One systems can sometimes be too revealing and highlight deficiencies in musicians’ playing, but with bands this tight the results are magical. It goes beyond sound, really — the whole vibe on stage is extended out into the crowd in a way that has to be experienced to be appreciated.

In the DJ booth, too, we try to keep to a purist ideal. We run two DJ booths side-by-side, one with a fader mixer and the other with a rotary mixer; the Americans love their rotaries! As standard we use a Formula Sound FF-6000 in the fader booth — this is a collaboration between Funktion One and Formula Sound, and although it’s rarely seen in DJ booths it’s unquestionably the best sounding DJ mixer available. Some DJs need the features of other mixers, though, so a Pioneer DJM-800 and Allen & Heath X:one-92 are on standby.

In the rotary booth we were pleased to have the prototype of Paul Morrissey’s re-issue of the legendary Bozak mixer, which the DJs were very excited to be using. Paul came along for the weekend and was great, taking on board our input on the sound of the mixer and tweaking it over the course of the weekend to fine-tune it. Paul is another audio purist who’s committed to producing the best mixer possible, so Southport is a great opportunity for us to work together.

This year the remaining three rooms are no less highly-spec’d than the main room, with Resolution-4, Resolution-5, F-218 and F-121 speakers used variously. Processing is all XTA again, with MC2 or QSC amps. Monitors across site are Turbosound TFM-450 or Ohm BR-15MS, and consoles include Soundcraft MH-3 and MH-2, Yamaha M7-CL and LS-9, and Midas Venice 240 and 320. Total DJ kit includes twelve Technics SL-1210s and fourteen Pioneer CDJ-1000s. We also make two Rane Serato systems available, alongside a TTM-57 Serato mixer.

This year sound engineer in the main room for the nighttime shift was Kim Lewis, for the daytime sift was Stev, and the rest of the Audile team comprised Ben Emissah, Craig Williams, Dan Scantlebury, Jason Quinn, Aaron and Tony Boothe, Chris Spencer, Kevin Gill and John Taylor.

Audile Ltd, Unit 1 Clayton Court, The Cityworks, Welcomb St, Manchester M11 2NB, UK
Telephone: +44 161 223 0014  Fax:  +44 161 223 7948
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Rob Ashworth of Audile Southport Weekender Funktion One by the main stage
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