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RG Jones across four stages at Glastonbury Festival

RG Jones has enhanced the Pyramid Stage since 2007 in one of the longest uninterrupted runs of audio services of any sound company at Glastonbury in recent times. The 18-strong on-site team, headed up by production manager Ben Milton with production engineer Mark Isbister on stage, collectively brought to the largest green field festival in the world a wealth of expertise in delivering audio to an extremely large crowd under notoriously challenging climatic conditions.

  • RG Jones across four stages at Glastonbury Festival
  • RG Jones across four stages at Glastonbury Festival
  • RG Jones across four stages at Glastonbury Festival

How proud Ronald G Jones would have been of the independent professional sound company that bears his name, and of the team that has delivered world-class audio across four main stages at the Glastonbury Festival. Now well into its ninth decade of technical innovation, RG Jones Sound Engineering returned to Worthy Farm for the eleventh consecutive year to support headliners Stormzy, The Killers, and The Cure on the iconic Pyramid Stage, and to extend its expertise to the Genosys Stage and the (brand new for 2019) IICON stage at Block9, and a reconfigured West Holts stage.

Audio quality was endorsed by several engineers, among them Paul David Hager, FOH engineer for Miley Cyrus, who had praise for the RG team.

“The rig sounded great, even with the wind. Everyone on the crew was so nice and professional – but you guys always are. Had a great time mixing on your system.” 

The main aim of the system design, developed by festival sound consultant Simon Honywill and Martin Audio’s Jason Baird from Jim Cousins’ original concept, was to apply Martin Audio’s MLA technology to provide an even and consistent spread of coverage and sound pressure level across the arena, and meet the Glastonbury audience’s increasingly high sound quality expectations.  The Pyramid Stage PA was composed of MLA and MLA Compact elements, with eight delay positions – two of them new for this year to ensure solid coverage to the extreme far corners – of MLA and MLA Compact cabinets optimising coverage up and across the expansive field. A broadside cardioid array of 32 MLX subwoofers stretching across the entire width of the stage provided extended sub-bass energy and low frequency directivity control.

Strong and unpredictably changeable winds caused the audio crew some concern, but systems engineer Mark Edwards was able to optimise the arrays using Martin Audio’s DISPLAY software throughout the weekend to focus audience coverage, and succeeded in limiting the drop-off in level to just 3dB over the 200 metre deep audience area.

Mike Timm, George Ezra’s FOH engineer agreed: “I was really impressed with how it held up in the wind, it sounded great and the low end was good.” The Pyramid stage PA also got a thumbs-up from Davey Ogilvy, FOH for Tom Odell, who said, “I thought it was great, I expected the sound to get blown away in the wind but all the power stayed there, I’m very happy.”

In a major transformation at West Holts, the stage PA was upgraded to MLA from MLA Compact,  and repositioned to improve coverage of the enlarged audience area in front, reducing sound leakage into the Theatre and Circus stages.

According to RG Jones systems tech Jack Bowcher, the reconfigured PA was “a massive improvement over two years ago, with better quality audio through the field and better containment as well.” The entire system was optimised to contain the energy within the West Holts field, while Bowcher used Martin Audio’s Hard Avoid feature to sharply taper the coverage from the  MLA Compact delays to prevent sound spilling into the market stalls and achieve a remarkable drop-off at the audience extremes.

The new arrangement at West Holts proved successful for Andrew Lorenzo, FOH engineer for Hollie Cook, who noted, “MLA sounded really crisp to me. It’s been really well tuned by RG Jones on site and I found it really full in both the bottom and high top end, which is what I need for reggae.” Andrew Lorenzo, FOH Hollie Cook

The success over the last three festivals of the post-industrial Genosys architecture prompted requests for a better solution for the newly emergent IICON stage at Block9. Honywill’s 6.1 immersive system design marked a major step forward in satisfying the opposing requirements of high levels in the arena and low levels off-site.

“I thought that rather than having this incredible structure and then just straightforward left right standard deployment, let’s go a bit crazy and do it in surround sound,” said Honywill. “So we had six hangs of ten WPL all pointing inwards with optimisation of the sound fields to maximise the experience for the 15,000-strong crowd.” A single 23-metre long SHX218 sub array in a broadside cardioid pattern provided the thumping bass, but also plenty of control.

“Each night there was a specially-commissioned presentation where the stage structure is projection mapped combined with 6.1 surround audio,” he said. “Then for the DJ sets we used a Trinnov Altitude 32 system to effectively up mix the stereo output to the 6.1 surround system and the results of that were frankly outstanding.”

Block9 co-founder Gideon Berger endorsed the concept. “Although this was an experimental design brief we’ve been really helped by RG Jones and Simon, who gave us demo suites to mix in, and engineers on the ground to support it. The whole thing has been a pleasure to work with them.”

“The rig sounded great, even with the wind. Everyone on the crew was so nice and professional – but you guys always are. Had a great time mixing on your system.”

Paul David Hager, FOH Miley Cyrus


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