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PRT: MLA Provides Further Boost at World-Famous Rock in Rio

The evolution of Martin Audio MLA as first choice PA for some of the most famous festivals around the globe continues. Having established itself as first choice on main stages at Rock In Rio — in both Brazil and Lisbon — they stretched the envelope further at this year’s event in the Portuguese capital with the addition of MLA to the second delay line.

“This helped to push our coverage out further with greater clarity and impact,” stated Peter Racy, chief engineer at the sound production company, Gabisom.

It has been a fruitful journey for the award-winning system which began in 2015 when MLA was first trialled on the second stage at Rock in Rio USA, in Las Vegas, and later in Rio that same year. Due to its success, MLA was then deployed for the first time on the World Stage at Rock in Rio Lisbon 2016, and has subsequently held this position for the following two editions: the 2017 event in Rio leading into Lisbon again this year.

Racy has been there every step of the way, and once again faced up to the challenges head on. “The main concern was to obtain even coverage over the entire audience area,” he stated. The audience area is a natural park approximately 300m deep by 200m wide, with asymmetrical relief and a large VIP area at the very back. “Clear and powerful sound is essential there, since that is where all the bosses hang out,” he exclaims.

The PA system followed the template of last year. “We again set-up the side-by-side rig which has been the trademark of Rock in Rio,” he said. “This year we not only made MLA available for the second delay line but the ground-stacked subs were set up as end-fired arrays.

“These two design changes proved a massive improvement to the overall outcome of the far-field,” Racy continued. “The main system was set to throw 180m at the point where it blended with the second delay line (the first delay line being used merely to support this ambitious throw distance in the case of wind).”

The second delay line had a tough task: it needed to cover the remaining 80m of audience, as well as serving the VIP terrace beyond and 5m above the grass. “This was quite a tall order for four towers with six MLA on each, though it did perform exceptionally well. The main PA’s end-fired ground subs made their presence felt at the back and were assisted by a few more MLX at the base of the second delay towers.”

So how did this play out in the system design? The box counts were certainly impressive, comprising 60 x MLA; 4 x MLD; 20 x MLX, in left and right flown configuration for the main hangs. 32 x MLA; 10 x MLX on side hangs; 32 x MLX ground subwoofers; 16 x MLA Compact as front-fills and 24 x MLA; 6 x MLX as delay. Side-fills comprised 12 x W8LC, with 8 x WS218X subs, while stage monitors consisted of 24 x LE2100.

With an all-star lined up including Katy Perry, Jessie J, The Killers, Chemical Brothers, Bruno Mars, Muse and many more A-listers, it was vital that they could play through a firmly-established PA system and Peter Racy confirmed that all engineers were pleased to have the opportunity to test their charges’ sound through MLA. “Many had not done so before and they all left happy, having reported good shows. In fact we received some great feedback from engineers, staff, and audience alike — without exception.”

In total around 100,000 people per day descend on the site which extends over two weekends during which time the festival stays rigged, with two days silent in the middle. On Wednesday they reconvene for Rock in Rio Academy, a closed event promoted by Roberto Medina, creator of Rock in Rio. Thursday is soundcheck day and Friday and Saturday sees business resume as usual.

The event was supported by an experienced crew from Gabisom, including Peter Racy and Eder Moura (FOH); Thiago Borges (monitors); Gonçalo Rebelo (patch); Rafael Molina (RF); Marcelo Ferraz (Recording Studio); Paulo Baptista (crew chief); Luis Fernando Nando, Derrik Ferreira (riggers), and Josiel Silva, Jefeson Barbosa, Messias Santos, Marzia Brini, Carolina Ribeiro (stage crew).