Outdoor concerts in the height of summertime are not just reserved for rock bands. Recently, the UK’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra took to the stunning setting of Leeds Castle, situated in Kent, for a spectacular concert in front of over 20,000 eager classical music fans.
However, while a venue like Leeds Castle provided a breath-taking backdrop to the music, the site itself presented its own set of challenges for those involved in specifying and delivering a performance audio system for the event, with Lake’s LM 26 a major part of the eventual solution.
Outline UK, UK distributor for Outline, specified the loudspeaker sound system through SRD Group of Kent, and supplied by Britannia Row for the site for the Saturday and Sunday concerts. As well as being an Outline rental house, Britannia Row have committed to Lake as their chosen system processor, with their dry and wet hire inventory finding its way onto many major tours and events across the country, including the shows at Leeds Castle.
“The situation with this site is actually very complicated,” said Peter Barnard, managing director of Outline UK. “It’s not a square site like many other events; it actually goes off to a left hand dog leg at the far end of a sharp incline. It is very, very long – the furthest seating position is 354 metres from the stage – so we needed precise control and processing of the delay towers, which is where the LM 26 comes in. We made full use of the LM 26’s Dante capability giving us full redundancy; it has become the fool proof protocol to use at the moment. One of the delays will be configured via radio link, purely because of the distance involved.”
“What we are actually flying here is 24 of the new Outline GTO full range cabinets, and also 42 of the renowned butterfly cabinet, all controlled by Lake LM 26 and Lake Controller software,” he continued. “LM 26 is definitely the one that has risen to the top of all processing systems over the past year. The original DLP became a great favourite with the industry, and the LM 26 has quickly become what could be called the new industry standard, such is the level of use across the board nowadays."
Ian Barfoot, director at Tech-Serv Audio Consultants Ltd, has worked with the likes of Rick Wakeman in his varied career, and was the orchestra mix engineer at the Leeds Castle show.
“I’ve been using Lake on systems for ages, from the very early days of Contour, even before it was Dolby, and have always loved it,” he said. “Now, with Lab.gruppen getting behind Lake Processing, the LM 26 is another chapter in the story, and I really love it. I love the MESA EQ, although I don’t get a chance to use it as often as I would like. I think it’s one of the nicest sounding EQs out there really.”
As well as the distinctive EQ, the Dante capability was another reason that Barfoot was glad the LM 26 was being used at Leeds Castle. Audio which is transmitted over analogue cables can be adversely affected by signal degradation due to electromagnetic interference, high-frequency attenuation, and voltage drop over long cable runs - whereas with digital audio distribution over Dante, the audio arrives at the other side in a pristine state.
“Dante was a thing that I jumped on quite a lot in the earliest days, because I love the idea of it and as transport medium I think it’s great,” continued Barfoot. “We did some work, with a lot of assistance from Simeon Ludwell (Lab.gruppen/Lake UK Sales Manager), on a huge show here last year - the sort of event where your first job is to row 200 metres across a moat with a fibre cable, because your PA gear is on an island in the middle of a moat, and your control position is 250 metres in the other direction. Using Dante over the fibre made it much easier for us to do this event than using the typical copper multi-core.”
For his mixing desk, Barfoot was using his preferred Allen & Heath iLive, which worked with the LM 26 through an additional Dante card. “It worked really well,” he said. “I’m a bit of an iLive fan, and even more so with the new Dante card as it allows simple and seamless integration into large-scale, high quality audio networking. I love using it, and the ease of set up with the LM 26’s makes it all worthwhile.”