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Third Consecutive Year at Glastonbury – the Best Ever?

It’s already been described by organiser Michael Eavis as the “best ever” Glastonbury and for audio rental company RG Jones Sound Engineering it marked the third year in succession in charge of the legendary Pyramid Stage.

  • Third Consecutive Year at Glastonbury – the Best Ever?
  • Third Consecutive Year at Glastonbury – the Best Ever?
  • Third Consecutive Year at Glastonbury – the Best Ever?

This year the London based company, a member of the Synco Europe Network founded by Ampco, supplied a full Synco package including Synco by Martin Audio W8L Longbow main PA line arrays and Martin Audio delays, a massive Synco cardioid sub-bass array and a complete Synco stage monitoring and drum fill system.

Yasha Morgenstern, deputy production manager of Glastonbury Festival, commented: “We asked RG Jones to provide a redesigned arena system for the Pyramid Stage, to give better coverage and less overspill in that notoriously difficult arena. We are more than pleased with the result, with many reports of improved arena sound this year. Control, monitors and stage ran faultlessly, and visiting artists’ systems were dealt with smoothly. Overall a first-class job.”

Among the Pyramid Stage legends that made this amazing weekend their own were Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Blur, Lily Allen, The Specials, Madness, Dizzee Rascal, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Kasabian, Tom Jones and Fleet Foxes. Performances from Dizzee Rascal’s Bonkers to Neil Young’s storming Keep On Rocking In The Free World, from Madness’s Our House to Blur’s Park Life were among a host of great Glastonbury moments.

RG Jones Sound Engineering returned with an advanced version of the Pyramid Stage PA design created last year in conjunction with Martin Audio’s Jason Baird and Jim Cousins – both of whom joined the system design team again this year, along with Chris Ekers.

The main PA consisted of two 16-deep hangs per side of Synco by Martin Audio Longbow line array, powered by Synco drive racks and aligned via XTA AudioCore software. Coverage was extended to the rear of the huge bowl by a broad line of four 16-deep hangs of Martin Audio W8LC compact cabinets.

A new cardioid sub-bass array, arranged along the width of the stage front, also played a huge part in directing audio energy into the audience, while eliminating sound interaction between the Pyramid, Other and Jazz World Stages.

It comprised 35 Synco WS318X triple 18” sub-bass cabinets, with one rear-facing cabinet placed, out of phase and precisely delayed, between every pair of forward-facing cabinets. The design allowed the array to self-cancel rearwards bass spill, making both the stage itself and the backstage areas free of unwanted sub-bass. The horizontal directivity of the sub array was also adjusted to match the shape of the field, using computer-modelled time delay techniques.

Says Chris Ekers: “The combination of the line arrays with a cardioid sub array produced excellent directivity and propagation into the audience areas, often leaving some on stage to wonder if the PA was on! The addition of a fourth delay position this year provided near seamless horizontal coverage across the wider part of the field beyond 100m and up the hill to the boundary 250m from stage. Each hang was zoned so that the upper array sections were independently adjustable, helping reduce noise levels in the village of Pilton 1100m from stage.” Working closely with the noise monitoring teams, Chris added, “if we breached our limit at the measurement boundaries and were asked to reduce levels, I was able to make small level changes to the system without affecting the engineers mixing at FOH or the enjoyment of the majority of the audience; it worked well”.

FOH control comprised a pair of Midas XL4 consoles, with a Heritage 1000 as the central signal matrix serving the main system drive racks. The team opted for an all-analogue set-up at FOH this year as the XL4 had turned out, in pre-production discussions between RG Jones audio production manager and FOH engineer Steve Carr and this year’s bands’ engineers, to be the majority’s preferred choice. System EQ was achieved using XTA digital EQ with a wireless tablet and Klark Teknik DN360 for grab EQ. Working alongside Steve Carr were Diarmuid McLennan and system engineer Chris Ekers, while Ampco’s Remco Verhoek brought his long experience with Synco systems to the team as PA rigger.

Up on the iconic stage, the house monitor system comprised proprietary Synco low-profile dual-concentric CW15A 15” wedges, driven by Synco amp racks, along with a Synco drum sub-bass system with a triple-18” WS318X, a 2x15” Synco STS subwoofer and a 15” Synco CW15A wedge for the top end, run from a drum sub-bass drive rack custom-built by Synco for the occasion.

A dual Yamaha PM5D setup provided the house monitor mix, controlled by a single Yamaha DME64 which allowed both desks to access the same wedge system simultaneously for maximum flexibility. Monitor world was in the hands of Paul Meyers and George Hogan.

An RG Jones innovation introduced at Glastonbury 2007 was continued – the sophisticated shout system between stage and FOH, with all stage crew wearing a radio IEM and a push-to-talk radio headset, while FOH and monitors had switched microphones and wedges, controlled by a dedicated Yamaha LS9 mixer.

As a wet first day turned into a weekend’s hot sunshine the stage and FOH teams delivered sound for a total of 24 bands. Pre-production manager and RG Jones stage manager / splits master Mark Isbister commented: “It was another faultless year on the Pyramid Stage with some amazing performances from a dream line-up. A big shout must go to the stage team of Ben Milton, Laura Yensen and Matt Sussex; without their teamwork all my pre-planning would have been wasted. Here’s to the next one.”

Technical Director Acoustics of RPS Planning and Development David Leversedge said: “RG Jones not only provided fantastic sound for the Pyramid Stage, but also worked closely with RPS to achieve the very tight off site noise limits.”

“The crew were absolutely fantastic throughout” smiled RG Jones Director Andrew Williamson, “we had a star-studded cast of engineers, and it’s clear to see how they've got their reputations”.