Electro-Voice returns to Earls Court for BRITS 2009
With the BRIT Awards impudently snapping at the heels of the Grammys in terms of the kudos of its gongs and the visibility of the televised live show, this year’s event benefited from the extra glamour and chutzpah provided by an incredible flowering of British talent, and featured live performances by Grammy winners Duffy, Coldplay, and Estelle.
The success of the 2009 BRIT Awards owes a lot to the regular team of contractors, including sound suppliers Britannia Row, which extended its impressively consistent run with the Electro-Voice X-Line system. “It is the perfect system for a format like the BRITS,“ says Bryan Grant of Brit Row.
Filling the Earls Court Arena with the great and the good of the British music industry, the 2009 BRIT Awards featured a dizzying variety of performers and genres. Something of a coup for the organizers was the opening performance by U2, giving world TV its first look at their new album. With the emphasis very much on live performances from British artists, the program ranged from Coldplay to Girls Aloud, Take That to the Kings of Leon, the Ting Tings to the Pet Shop Boys.
“To be able to handle such a spread of A-list acts and keep everyone happy is amazing,“ says sound designer Derrick Zieba. “We didn’t have a single adverse comment from any artist, engineer or manager, they were all more than satisfied with what we’d done, and that is why I specified the X-Line.
“We first used this system configuration at Earls Court in 2006, and it has worked so well that there’s absolutely no point in changing it. I’m happy for our control systems to evolve, but with the main loudspeaker elements, the tried-and-tested consistency of the EV X-Line is the route to go.
“As a sound designer, my brief is crystal clear: to produce as good a sound as can be achieved in that room, and to deliver it to the live audience and the broadcasters. I don’t want a PA system to add any color, and one thing that still surprises me about X-Line is that it’s about as neutral as a system can be. We’re equally happy using it at the Classical BRITs show in the Royal Albert Hall.“
Zieba welcomed this year’s change to the BRITs set, which created a single performance stage instead of two, and allowed him to narrow the distance between left and right main PA hangs. Left and right of the stage set were 15-module hangs of Electro-Voice X-Line mid-top cabinets and 10 Xsubs, with a center cluster of six small cabinets fitted into a tiny space below the follow-spots. The substantial delay system operated as a duplicate of the front system. With a L/R/L arrangement on the hangs, each with eight EV Xvls cabinets, the FOH engineers used the two delay hangs in front of them as their reference.
Zieba and his team took advantage of EV’s NetMax digital matrix system, added into the system for extra control from the FOH position. “The whole system is mastered through IRIS-Net control and supervision software,“ explains Zieba. “However, NetMax helped us enormously by giving us accurate and recallable control of all the smaller speakers, allowing us to insert EQ and delay, and meter the results. It gave us the same level of control over the rest of the system that IRIS-Net gave us over the main PA.“
The main PA is trimmed some 15 meters above the stage because, as Bryan Grant explains, “the BRIT Awards is essentially a TV show, so nobody wants to see sound equipment in shot. It is one of the specific reasons for using X-Line, as we can fly all the bass cabinets, keep the stage uncluttered, and still give everybody in the house full-range sound. It is a very good tool in this respect; we can get it up high and still achieve very even coverage. The X-Line boxes throw well - the Xvlt has 120-degree dispersion - and they have a very good sound. After four years of using the system on this show, our feeling is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!“
X-Line also delivered the goods for the BRIT Awards’ notoriously demanding noise police, which enforced even more detailed regulation this year. Measurements ran over a whole day to monitor the exposure to employees, although, Zieba reports, “not only did we meet our show targets but we met our all-day LEQ targets as well.“
The BRITs sound team:
Sound Designer: Derrick Zieba
Front-of-House Engineers: Chris Morrison, Dave Bracey
FOH (presentations): Ben Milton
Monitor Engineers: John James, Ben Philips
System Tech: Nico Royan
Stage Team: Pete McGlynn, Steve Donovan
Radio Systems: Barry McCloud
Tel: +44 208 646 7114