The wide range of talent at iTunes includes commercial mainstays such as Oasis, Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol, acoustic performers like Newton Faulkner, quirky performance artists with wide dynamic ranges (like Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan), and some good old fashioned R&B.
All of which added up to something of a Molotov cocktail for iTunes production manager Stuart Turvill, system tech Dave Roden, and the Martin Audio W8LM Mini Line Array System.
Turvill has chaperoned iTunes' steady growth to the Roundhouse, where he designed the audio infrastructure for the televised event, in collaboration with Martin Audio's Jim Cousins and Andy Pardoe, and consultant Nick Foots.
He was fortunate to have Dave Roden, the Stereophonics' FOH engineer for 14 years, as his system tech, since Dave knows the Martin Audio signature sound inside out having worked with the full line array family on a succession of Stereos tours.
“We have only generally used the Minis as side-hangs on tour,” Roden admits. “This is the first time I've mixed through them as a main system, and I must say they are really versatile, and a miracle for the size of the box.”
Jim Cousins believes they are ideal for this kind of venue, and particularly appropriate for a TV shoot. “They are physically unobtrusive, with good pattern control so they don't fire the room up too much.”
As for the speakers, there are ten W8LM per side with a W8LMD downfill, flown either side of the stage, and six more W8LM's (plus an W8LMD) rigged each side for outfills. Bass hangs consist of six WMX per side, hung equidistant behind the inner/outer arrays, and a further eight WS218X's under the stage apron. The WMX's have been designed to deliver mid bass and thump straight to the chest while the 218's provide the low bass rumble.
On stage there are 14 Martin Audio LE1500 floor monitors with Martin Audio W3's for infill and W2's on the VIP area. Martin Audio W2/W3 and Blackline S18 subs are used for drum fills.
Monitor engineer Will King added, “The LE1500's are pretty awesome, some of the best wedge monitors I've heard. Everyone has commented on how good they sound, though I'd like to think some of that because of me!”
The FOH system was set up using DISPLAY, Martin Audio's predictive software, processed by XTA DP226's in the rack and two XTA 448s at FOH, running AudioCore.
“This venue is in the round so you have a resonant frequency of 121Hz which shows up at 125Hz plus its relative harmonics,” notes Roden. “That resonance really lingers and all you can do is compensate for it in the system EQ, to save visiting engineers from hacking it out on their GEQ's. But in essence, it's the nature of the room and the system has actually dealt with it extremely well because it's such a versatile box.”
As every show is recorded for television broadcast, stage equipment needs to be discreet and not interfere with sightlines, so the hangs are set wide and trimmed high. “Everything is dictated by the iTunes set design,” says Stuart Turvill.
But for Roden, the event is just a blast, and not only for the chance to work with his favorite PA system. “I wanted to do this because it was an opportunity to work in a different role from my usual one, alongside a lot of people I already know and respect, and meet new colleagues in the bargain. After all, living in Wales I don't get to network a lot in London!”