Electro-Voice X-Line soars over Classical Brit Awards
On the express instructions of sound designer Derrick Zieba, Britannia Row Productions supplied its Electro-Voice X-Line array system for the biggest night in the British classical music calendar – the Classical BRIT Awards 2010.
Marking the 11th year of the Awards, a glittering line-up of international stars gathered onstage at the Royal Albert Hall in London, home to the Classical BRITs since it started in 2000. Accompanied by the London Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Warren-Green, the live performers included Angela Gheorghiu, Bryn Terfel, Rolando Villazón, André Rieu and his Johan Strauss Orchestra, and the legendary Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, picking up her Lifetime Achievement Award.
Zieba is a familiar sight at the big awards shows; his contract with BRITS TV also includes the mainstream BRIT Awards for popular music, and he has designed many similar events for MTV and others. Over the last year, he admits to renewing his long-term enthusiasm for the Electro-Voice X-Line system following the addition of FIR-Drive processing (Finite Impulse Response filtering).
“Now the X-Line system has been enhanced with the FIR-Drive software and hardware, it can achieve greater definition in the upper mids and highs, yet has lost none of its punch and drive in the lower mid and low-end,” says Zieba. “Using the same system for both the rock and pop BRIT Awards and the Classical show, we have evidence that X-Line is easily able to deliver on both. The system is clear and transparent enough to handle the nuances of classical music, and powerful enough for rock ‘n’ roll.”
Britannia Row’s team, guided by X-Line system specialist Nico Royan, rigged an L/C/R system in the Royal Albert Hall, trimmed 14 meters above the orchestra. “Because of the demands of television, we have to fly the PA much higher than we’d like. However X-Line offers the right size and weight of cabinet to deliver the sound over the distances involved, where a smaller box might struggle in the low-mids and low-end.”
The design uses a full-range line array, powered by EV’s Precision Series amplifiers. Left and right hangs use 8x Xvls + 4x Xvlt cabinets – the center hang, throwing over the orchestra, uses 12x Xvls. Zieba and FOH engineer Colin Pink have time-aligned different sections of the orchestra in each hang so that the audience hear the most accurate mix for where they are seated.
“Everyone comments that this is a big PA for a classical concert, but I wanted to deliver all the frequencies equally, from bass to the very top, hence the design. With a huge reserve of power, we are able to extend the range so that most of the low end is in the hang. The result is a very beautiful sound, especially in the upper levels of the hall.”
Just two subs are on the ground, sitting on the side of the hall floor, used to give a physical sensation of sub-bass. “It saved us having to play time alignment games to get the subs under the stage to align with the hangs. But in any case, we couldn’t put subs under the stage as they would blast straight into the orchestral mics.”
Every instrument in the orchestra is miced up, using a selection of the very best instrument and vocal microphones. “We have the right microphones and we’ve upgraded our FOH to the best digital console on the market. We’re striving for more openness in the sound, knowing that the FIR-enabled X-Line speakers can deliver every detail that we can capture.”
Zieba’s experience with classical and rock ‘n’ roll versions of the BRIT Awards gives him a unique perspective. “The BRIT Awards is a largely made-for-TV awards programme, whereas the Classical BRITS is more of a concert. The event pulls in a very knowledgeable audience, which knows exactly how an orchestra should sound, and some of the best classical performances you will hear anywhere in the world. It is an excellent test for the enhanced X-Line system, and it passes with flying colors.”
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