Historic landmark building (and former picture house), Scala at Kings Cross originally opened its doors just after the end of World War 1. More recently, in its current guise as an eclectic live music and dance/club venue, it has played host to many top bands since the venue reopened in 1999, including Tiesto, Bastille, Ed Sheeran, Nine Inch Nails, Kaiser Chiefs, Foo Fighters, Rihanna, Rita Ora, Lana Del Rey, The Killers and Stereophonics.
To keep up with the demanding technical requirements of artists of this caliber, Scala recently upgraded its house PA system to a Martin Audio MLA Compact, with the new system designed and installed by Capital Sound (for whom both The Killers and Stereophonics are long-term touring accounts).
With as many as 800 people packing the place for live stage events (rising to 1145 capacity for club nights), audiences are now treated to pristine digital audio from the new mixer-loudspeaker combination.
Explaining the background to the sale, Capital Sound’s Operations & Development Director, Paul Timmins stated that when his company became aware that Scala were starting to upgrade, having taken possession of a new digital console, they approached the venue’s Technical Manager, David Preston and he in turn introduced them to Scala owner, Ryan Bissett and Operations Director, Lee Hazell.
“We recognized that this is a difficult venue, with a big reflective glass wall at the back, and we felt that MLA Compact would offer the ideal solution,” he said. “The sale was concluded over a course of meetings.”
Capital Sound Head of Development, Robin Conway, who had been responsible for much of the system design and sound predictions, said that with a new console putting out crystal clear sound, the venue had deserved a groundbreaking PA to match. “MLA is set with a flat frequency response to deliver clean and identical sound everywhere in the venue—and this will enable it to overcome some of the inherent difficulties it faces. At the same time, the fact that it is now state-of-the-art will make it more attractive to engineers coming in.” And the rider-friendly install will also obviate the need for production crews to lug equipment upstairs in difficult load-in circumstances.
Both Capital and Martin Audio were equally aware that such an installation will open up greater possibilities for the corporate sector, including record companies for artist showcases, while both parties will recognize the prestige in having a flagship site for the award-winning MLA platform.
The installation itself comprises six MLA Compact elements per side and three stacked DSX subwoofers on either side of the stage. In addition, they have provided two of Martin Audio’s Coaxial Differential Dispersion CDD-LIVE12—one for center fill and one for balcony fill—all operating under Vu-Net system control.
Explaining the rationale, Conway said, “MLA Compact is a 100° box so there is already plenty of horizontal coverage. It made sense to fill any holes [in the coverage pattern] with a separate CDD-LIVE rather than using MLA for balcony coverage.”
At the same time, Capital has upgraded the stage sound which features eight of Martin Audio’s brand new LE200 (1 x 15”) floor monitors that deliver coverage from 100° directly over the monitor, narrowing to 60° further back. This maintains the sound level and balance independent of distance from the monitor and produces a consistent near-rectangular coverage plane at head-height. These are driven by Martin Audio MA5.2K amplifiers with processing via a pair of Martin Audio DX2 to enable eight bi-amp mixes. In addition, a pair of WS18X subs are used for drum fill and are driven by a Martin Audio MA9.6K DSP amplifier.
Capital has provided a new cabling infrastructure and the installation has been carried out in such a way that it is semi-permanent, and can be used as a training facility. It has been supplied on a long-term rental basis.
Due to the venue’s heavy program, the fast-track installation was carried out over a carefully-selected two-day period, and was supported by Martin Audio’s Product Support Engineers, Nigel Meddemmen and Simon Purse, while house engineer David Preston has subsequently joined Capital’s Development Team.
Summing up the value of this installation to all parties, Paul Timmins said, “MLA has been increasingly evident in all the big, high profile festivals Capital has supported, particularly in London. We therefore felt it was time one of the major London venues had its own MLA system, which will also provide access to take potential customers along, and allow them to hear a system before they use it.”
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