Capital and MLA triumph at three major Hungarian festivals

Photo credit: Schöff Gergely @ Rockstar Photographers

HUNGARY: A key component of Capital Sound’s busy summer festival schedule is its annual visits to Hungary, providing technical infrastructure for the Sziget Organisation at three major gatherings.

For several years it has serviced the back-to-back four-day Volt rock festival in Sopron, before trucking the equipment two and a half hours south east from the Austrian border to Balaton Sound, which takes place on the beach of Zamárdi over five days.

Having established Martin Audio’s flagship MLA system at these two festivals, in 2014 the organisers were keen to try the system out on their own flagship event: the Sziget Festival itself. And with all three of the festivals growing exponentially, Capital Sound general manager Paul Timmins said that delivering bespoke sound designs that take into account the peculiarities of the different site dimensions and terrains — all within a tight budget — presents a real challenge.

This year he enlisted the services of Polish MLA partner Muśnicki Sound Systems, which provided its MLA System 36 and as a result will support Cap at these events for the next two years. “Given the logistics, and the different deployments required for each site, we always need to be very clever with truck space,” said Timmins. “This is a two-truck operation but for budget reasons we can only bring one from the UK, containing all the control and a lot of the speakers. It’s therefore great to be able to source the shortfall of equipment from within Eastern Europe with another Martin Audio partner — and Maciej [Muśnicki] and his team were fantastic.”

Described as ‘multi-genre’, and drawing an attendance of over 100, 000 last year to the wide open spaces and green fields of Sopron, this year’s Volt Festival headliners included Iron Maiden, The Prodigy, Wiz Khalifa, Axwell^Ingrosso, Slayer, Damien Rice, Paul Kalkbrenner, and Sigma.

For the main stage, PA Capital fielded 17 MLA plus an MLD Downfill on each wing, and for side hangs eight MLA stage left, with five on the facing flank.

In addition, 30 MLX subs were set in a spaced cardioid array — a pattern increasingly adopted by Capital where greater LF punch is required (and tight control is of less importance). Five stacks of three MLX each side (with the bottom enclosure reversed) were spaced either side of a centre fill of 12 x WS218X subs, on a separate send. Front fills consisted of 12 x Martin Audio W8LC line arrays while two small ‘shadow’ delays, comprising three W8LC’s a side, were flown behind the mix tower.

Specialising in house music, and set on Balaton Lake, the 10th Balaton Sound Festival recorded a total visitor number of 157,000, breaking all records for the five-day beach party.

Again Paul Timmins set out the challenges. “This is a much a wider site — more like a rectangular football pitch — and around 90m from the stage to the edge of the lake. Because of the arty nature of the stage, there are limitations on weight loading — so it is fortunate that MLA is not overly heavy.”

For the main hangs Cap rigged 13 MLA and an MLD Downfill on each side, with eight further MLA outfilling on each flank. They deployed the same 30 MLX (again in spaced cardioid pattern but without the centre WS218X). A further five MLA were set across the stage for front fills.

Balaton Sound did, however, require more delays than Volt. Two main towers each featured six W8LC on each, under which were six WS218X subs to throw the low frequencies in particular back towards the lake. Additional ‘shadow’ delays in the form of three W8LC’s were set behind each of the two FOH mix positions.

Lining up to perform were Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Martin Garrix, Armin van Buuren, Steve Aoki, Martin Solveig, Paul van Dyk and many more dance specialists — all able to achieve dance level SPL’s from MLA, evenly distributed across the entire frequency range.

Capital Sound has been servicing Sziget Festival for more than a decade, and last year established MLA at this event as well as the two sister festivals. This year almost half a million people attended the ‘Island of Freedom’ throughout the mammoth, week-long festival, which saw headliners the Chemical Brothers, Rihanna, David Guetta, Muse, SIA, Manu Chao La Ventura, Hardwell and many other international names.

This time the main hangs consisted of 17 x MLA and an MLD Downfill on each side, with nine MLA and an MLD Downfill providing side hangs. Subwoofers consisted of 40 MLX in a spaced array comprising six stacks of three on each side of two stacks of two MLA — all evenly spaces across the front. Front fills consisted of 20 x W8LM Mini Line Array.

In addition, there were four separate delay points using a total of 32 x MLA and four MLD Downfills, with LF extension on the delays provided by 16 x WS218X across all four towers in a cardioid design. Two further shadow delays were set behind the mix tower, either side of the video screen, with four MLA Compact in each.

“Everything worked so well with MLA last year that this year was pretty much plain sailing,” said Timmins. “The new sub design proved extremely popular, particularly with Muse [whose sound was mixed by their veteran FOH engineer Marc Carolan]. They were particularly complimentary.”

Capital Sound’s project manager and crew chief on all three Hungarian festivals was Charlie Ellery, while Marty Beath system teched Volt and Balaton and Toby Donovan fulfilled the role at Sziget. Also on hand as the Hungarian MLA tech (as he was last year) was Marci Mezi.

Summing up, Timmins said: “Although Hungarian festivals tend not to have SPL measured, Sziget epitomises the perfect sound level, running at 100 – 103dB. And those levels present no problems with offsite thresholds for a system such as MLA.”

Underlining the strength of Martin Audio’s MLA partnership, Hungarian sound production company BG Event recently invested in MLA Compact, and provided the system for the Europe and Colosseum stages at Sziget.

BG Event’s Balázs Szentiványi reports that for the former, they supplied 16 x MLA Compact (eight on each wing) with eight WS218X subs, a pair of Martin Audio XD12 providing infill, with monitors in the form of a WS218X (for DJ and drum monitors) and 10 Martin Audio LE1200 wedges.

They also equipped the Colosseum stage with 20 x W8LM, eight WS218X, a pair of XD12 for infills, a pair of S18+ and four LE1500.

Martin Audio
Balaton Sound
Volt Festival