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08 October 2010 15:37 BST
André Rauhut of Berlin headquartered Complete Audio speaks exclusively to TPi after purchasing the world’s first Martin Audio MLA system…
TPi: So, what turned you on to the MLA?
André Rauhut: It all started off a few years ago during the MLA’s development. Martin Audio said they had a new system coming up; and we wanted a new system. We had a Longbow rig and that’s six years old now, so it was time for a change. Finally, last December, we got to see the system and the software and what it was capable of.
And you were considering a number of systems for your upgrade?
Yes, we looked at all of the top systems. We first heard the MLA at Earls Court and it was impressive, but it was still under controlled conditions, so I asked if we could try it out on the tour and they agreed. That’s when I realised this is not just another line array system; it’s a totally new approach to the whole thing — the next step up. I remember back in the mid-‘90s when the V-Dosc rig got introduced, everybody was like, “what is that?”, and it’s pretty much like that now. When you show them the software and show them what it’s able to do, their jaws just drop!
Being able to drop SPL levels to almost zero — that shouldn’t be possible should it?
[laughs] This isn’t just HF roll-off either; when you walk outside of the beam, the audio is gone, literally. The more we use it and the more we do with it, the better it gets. You can get as much SPL at the back of the arena as you can at the front.
And the MLA can throw a hell of a long way…
Yes, it throws 150 metres without a problem. Other systems like the Longbow can throw a good distance, 85 metres maybe, but you lose that projection. There’s information there, but the clarity with the MLA is far better. If you understand the concept, you don’t need to walk around a venue and see how it sounds in different places; the FOH position is the reference point.
What would you say the main differences are in working with the MLA compared with other systems?
The main difference is that you have to measure it very accurately, and then you fix it later. Every venue gets a custom tailored setting; it would kind of defeat the whole purpose if you didn’t do that! People ask, “why are you measuring the stage?” [laughs] and I say, “it’s part of my prediction!” You have to get your head around this thing to use it properly…
How long does that take?
The actual optimisation process is around 15 minutes, sometimes a little longer, and if I have a rough sketch of the venue itself, the system comes out with the right display angles and the positions and we can start rigging straight away. Then, when the system is up, I can upload the software.
And in many venues, you don’t even need delays? That’s groundbreaking isn’t it?
It is groundbreaking and you can only do it because of the huge throw. And of course it reduces costs; and the tonal quality remains the same throughout the venue, because you always compromise a little with a delay line unless you have identical boxes.