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Brixton sees UK’s first Martin Audio MLA Compact install

Old Barn Audio has completed the first UK installation of Martin Audio’s MLA Compact Multicellular Array at Brixton Jamm in London as part of a £350K refurbishment of the music venue.

The concert sound system is complemented by an upgraded back room with a high SPL DJ and playback system in the adjacent bar, which uses Martin Audio’s new CDD Coaxial Differential Dispersion technology.

The expanded venue has a capacity of 650 and the project was completed inside three weeks. Ian Gough, who co-owns the venue with Jonathan Allen commented: “The idea was to reorganise how we present ourselves. We were aware of the presence of MLA at high profile events like Glastonbury and British Summertime in Hyde Park, and realised that it was appearing increasingly on riders. By offering MLA it would put the venue on the small band circuit with promoters and agents.”

The owners reviewed other brands but have backed Martin Audio frequently over the 17 years they have owned the venue, first with a W8C/WSX system, before more recently adding a pair of Martin Audio XD15’s.

“It was because of our success in selling Martin Audio in the past that we were given the nod,” said Old Barn Audio director, Phil Clark. “We loaned them one of our demo MLA Compact systems for evaluation, and they loved it as did the artists coming through.”

The system he and partner Neil Kavanagh designed is based around a conventional stage proscenium system, three MLA Compact elements a side, with a pair of arrayed Martin Audio CSX218 direct radiating subs under the stage apron.

On stage musicians have the option of four classic Martin Audio low profile wedge monitors and an LE1500, while a Martin Audio S18 is used for drum fills. And when the stage reverts to club mode, the XD15 cabinets are pressed into service for DJ monitoring purposes, frequently supplemented by the S18.

In view of the low ceiling, Old Barn Audio designed bespoke flying frames so that the array could be trimmed as high as possible, and then used Martin Audio’s proprietary Display software and VU-NET to tune the system. “Display plots the room and predicts the splay angles and this is then transferred to VU-NET for control,” Clark explained. Old Barn Audio analysed and time aligned the room using Smaart software to further ensure optimisation.

In the main bar room there are six CDD12 (1x12in) full-range speakers and two single 18in WS18X floor-mounted subs, with two pole-mounted XD12s, facing back to the DJ console for monitoring purposes.

Speaking of MLA Compact, the venue’s technical manager and sound engineer, Stuart Crossland, said: “We’ve received great feedback. The system is very responsive, providing really even coverage, and there are added features that conventional line arrays do not have. It is nice to have a system no-one else has, plus it’s a touring system so bands were happy to use it.”

Phil Clark concluded: “MLA Compact was the obvious choice for them; it’s cutting edge, rider friendly and reasonably priced – and the system will seriously enhance the venue’s reputation. It is a privilege to have carried out the first MLA Compact installation in the UK and to have done so in such a prestigious venue with so much history.”

Martin Audio