11 January 2013

V plays with Coldplay

The run of stadium dates undertaken by Coldplay this summer has seen Wigwam augment the band’s normal d&b audiotechnik J-Series system with the new d&b V-Series loudspeakers, and for some very specific applications. “The production design is such that we have been selling seats all the way back to the drum line of stage,” explained Tony Smith, system technician for Dan Green, the band’s long time house sound engineer. “So I’ve needed to have a third hang of PA each side of stage, out at the 180 degree angle. This brings its own unique problems; depending on the venue I can sometimes end up with the V-Series tucked in behind the side hang of the main J-Series system, and they’re virtually touching. Line arrays really need distance between them, certainly when it's two hangs of the same type where you can encounter limited but significant combing effects.” Smith is one of the small but growing coteries of practitioners who have moved the general standards of concert audio experience to higher levels in recent years; he takes system performance very seriously.

“I was worried that having J and V in such close proximity would have a similar effect. However, on paper when I looked at ArrayCalc, it indicated that the V would produce a slightly tighter pattern than the J, and interference between the two hangs wouldn’t be a problem. I then found what it said was exactly right; what it says you’ll get in ArrayCalc is what you do get in the real world. That’s not something you always experience with manufacturers’ information.”

Smith also got to use the V-Series in slightly less contentious positions, as delay hangs in the very large stadiums. “We had them as a ring system flown off the stadium roof to cover the most distant high positioned seating; Manchester City stadium was a good example where we had two hangs of six cabinets each side. I was very happy listening to the transition between the J and the V and in both locations; out in the upper stands and close by stage where the 180 degree system was throwing a relatively short distance. The fact that the V has a smaller ten inch driver means it doesn’t move as much air as the Js, so consequently there’s a little less weight, but the sound of the low-mids through to the highs was uncannily like the J system.”

The tour has now completed a leg down in Australia and New Zealand after the European stadium shows in September. “We’ll be using the V-Series again,” concluded Smith, “Though I hear it has proved so popular that the boxes are rarer than dry days this summer. I’d also like to try the system on its own on a theatre tour, and use them with the dedicated V-SUB. We have the J-SUBs out on the tour and they really pack a punch, I can’t imagine the V-SUB will be any different, which is why I’d like to try it.” Next up are a few shows in the US culminating in a one off with Jay-Z at the Brooklyn Barclay Center on New Year’s Eve.