Stage Audio Services scores with first UK IC Live rental system

UK | August, 2010 - Midlands based Stage Audio Services, which supplies live audio production for events ranging from TV shows and sports events to touring, has become the first UK rental purchaser of the Renkus-Heinz IC Live digitally steerable array system. The company describes its first four clients’ reactions to the diminutive system, which was rated an "impressive performer" in a recent loudspeaker shoot-out, as "bowled over by its sound and looks".

Polar Audio, UK distributor for Renkus-Heinz, signed the deal after a week of trial runs by Stage Audio Services that included the Courtney Pine-headlined Mostly Jazz Festival in Birmingham and four large corporate events. Its first commercial outing was the quarter final of the Twenty20 cricket tournament at Edgbaston on 16 July.

Since then the system has, company founder Kevin Mobberley says, been in virtually continuous use, including HMV’s stand at the Global Gathering electronic music festival. "It’s the ideal system for a lot of the corporate, comedy and outdoor work that we do; it ticks all the boxes. We are amazed by what it can do, and long may it continue to make us money."

Stage Audio Services, formed by Mobberley in 1982, provides audio production for a broad mix of touring, live TV and corporate events. Clients include the BBC’s Top Gear Live shows and the Gadget Show Live. Live music work includes smaller stages at the Download, Global Gathering and V festivals and regional and national rock, pop, comedy and theatre tours. Birmingham radio station BRMB, the NEC and Birmingham Council are among its regional clients.

"We do a lot of festival and other varied work," says Mobberley, "but it’s predominantly touring, and work for promoters who come to us for a complete package. We ship gear and crew all over the world." The ‘corporate rock & roll’ side of the business, he says, is what attracted his attention to the IC Live system.

"We’ve bought a lot of equipment in the last four or five years, and this is the first piece of equipment we've bought for a very long time that I felt very excited about. I just fell in love with it after first seeing it. Normally we buy equipment out of need; with this, it's not a replacement for anything, it's a totally new tool for us. It will do these corporate events and smaller venues in a much nicer way, with a better presentation, a better sound and in a much more cost effective way."

The deployment at Edgbaston, home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, was designed to meet a singular challenge – providing sound to spectators seated around three quarters of the 21,000-capacity cricket ground. In keeping with the carnival atmosphere of Twenty20 the content comprised musical stings and a live compère, provided by a BRMB production office.

The spectators were covered by four IC Live stacks spaced around the ground, with the upper and lower seating tiers covered by separate beams from the mid/high units, each locked onto the matching subwoofer using the integrated hardware. Mobberley commented: "We brought in the IC Live to do quite a challenging job and it did it fantastically."

He adds: "When we first heard it demonstrated, I knew we were onto something special. Over the next week we put it through its paces in our typical show environments – Forces Day for Wolverhampton City Council, a festival in central Birmingham for 5,000 people, a similar event in the grounds of a stately home, and the two-day Mostly Jazz Festival in Birmingham.

The latter site was surrounded by houses, so containing the sound was vital, which the beam steering did fantastically.

"The last trial was at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, a venue every rock & roll sound engineer knows. An amazing result came from flying a single sub and two of the mid/high units upside down, which covered the whole of the 3,100 capacity room at around 101dB in every seat including the balcony; it was phenomenal.

"The main benefits to us compared to conventional systems are the small size compared to the coverage, the ease of rigging, and the sound quality. It's very expensive to transport systems around, so small is good, and the ease with which you can physically set it up means that once the engineers know how to use it, you can be set up and line checking in minutes. It's also the only system I can remember where I've had the clients commenting on how good it sounds and how good it looks, and I had that from our first four clients; it's got a lot of people talking about our company in a very positive way."