With perfect weather conditions for this year’s 200k+ visitors to occupy the 900 acre site at Worthy Farm, if it was your first time, then you picked a good year! The big-stage line-up was as thrilling and diverse as ever – Stormzy, The Killers, The Cure, Kylie, Janet Jackson, George Ezra, Liam Gallagher, Vampire Weekend, Lauryn Hill, Miley Cyrus, Bastille, Hozier, Sheryl Crow, Anne-Marie, Years & Years…the list goes on and on!
MX36 Debuts at Glastonbury
This year we were there mainly to debut our latest product, just released last month, a product that has been eagerly anticipated online as a “Great solution for multiple I-O” and a “big step forward for a lot of applications” as well as (very applicable for Glasto) “a festival’s dream!”
So our headline act was the MX36, our DSP Enabled Console Switching System, to give it its full title.
All the details about what this amazing bit of kit can do are to be found elsewhere on the website, so let’s just summarise by saying its modus operandi is to swap multiple feeds from multiple mixing consoles in multiple formats quickly and easily without involving a computer, a tablet, wifi, an audio engineering degree or one of your parents being present.
We had the opportunity to get one put through its paces in The Glade for the duration of the festival. Whereas two years ago (remember 2018 was a fallow year so there was no festival) the Glade was all about amplifiers for us (APA and MC2 Deltas), this time it was all about taking control of the desks, not the speakers!
The Glade is one of Glastonbury’s most loved dance and DJ areas, and the main stage capacity was massively powered up this year from its previous 3k capacity to a huge 15k, helped along by big names such as Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox, Leftfield, and DJ Sets from the likes of the BBC’s Tom Ravenscroft (for those who don’t know, he’s John Peel’s son!).
The main stage was flying a brand new Funktion One Vero system, and the keeping the quality high, audio was in the capable hands of both Cadac and Digico consoles. All production was taken care of by Audio Plus who normally have handled the switching of the desks using an LM44 by Lab Gruppen.
Richard Fleming, our Sales and Applications Support Manager, was on hand to help with the initial swap over to using the MX36 instead of the LM44.
“No disrespect to the LM44 but it’s not what it was really designed for, and having to commit that much complexity to what should be seen as a relatively simple job is expensive overkill, that takes time to set up and time to learn how to even switch from one desk to another. We have seen similar uses of DP448s used as source switchers and it’s a total waste of a processor that could be otherwise used much more effectively!”
In the time taken to disconnect from one system and plug into the other, the configuration of the MX36 was complete.
“This is the beauty of the MX36 – all you need to configure it is a few button presses on the front panel, and operating it as simple as A-B-C – literally!”
Three big buttons on the front panel, illuminated in their own neatly separated section allow you to switch between three consoles and the clever DSP allows you to plug in backup sources in case any of your main needs should fail.
Indeed the Glade main stage had the luxury of two Cadac desks, working in a primary/backup scenario and the Digico was on alternate act duties.
Kris Hayes, Audio Plus System Tech. at the show, commented that the LM44 switching scenario was something that had been the default for some years now, but far from ideal:
“When I saw the MX36 released I was on the phone straight away to Rich, we were on the same page and both had the idea of using on the Glade stage at Glastonbury. I, like many other system techs, have always managed console switching through LM44s but they weren’t really designed for it. It’s multiple page presses in Lake Controller to simply mute and unmute, let alone configuring the inputs… it always seemed a ‘work around’. The MX36 has made things much simpler – you control everything from the front panel and that’s all you ever need. The monitoring section is super handy too, great for proving every input and output going through the MX36 to see if you’ve made a mistake, but also to see how it sounds, whether you’re getting clocking issues, if someone’s put a strange filter on their output and so on.”
Kris continued, “Using the MX36 was a breeze, it made the whole process of console switching straight forward again. A must-have for any festival drive racks needing multiple formats.”
The “Tale of Two Amplifiers”…
We didn’t neglect our amplifiers’ and processors’ moments in the spotlight at Glasto this year either – racks of MC2 E Series were paired with DP448s to handle monitoring at the Glade, and we were delighted to step in with a couple of the monster “120 Amps”, the DNA120 and the MC2 Delta 120, following a no-show and a generator accident that left two system controllers (not ours!) in hospital fighting for their lives, and “fire coming from the monitors”! That whole story is covered separately in our epic “Tale of Two Amplifiers” you can read all about here.
Keeping the Dream Alive at the Beat Hotel
Our final tale of Glasto this year was that of the Beat Hotel, going out in style in its final year at the festival.
Providing the necessary audio chops for this most chilled out of spaces in the fields of the festival was av51, who worked with Gorilla Events. Dan Ascherl, director at av51, explained where we were involved in the Beat Hotel story…
“Late last year in 2018, we bought a classic Martin Audio Wavefront system, having needed greater throw to cover bigger events, and we wanted to use a DP448 to manage the system to the best of its ability. Waring Hayes (XTA’s Technical Brand Manager) had previously helped me out with some settings for a 448 so I explained what we were buying, what amps we intended to use and how we planned to configure the system.”
Waring picks up the story:
“Dan first got in touch with us when he signed up at the release of the MC2 Delta amps early in 2017, and we’ve been able to help out on occasions ever since, including this exciting opportunity for av51 at this year’s Glastonbury. To be honest, I didn’t realise this was happening until after the event and I had an email that mentioned the festival!”
Waring continues, “Naturally, the ‘G’ word piqued my interest and it was then that Dan sent me some photos and I found out about the whole Beat Hotel involvement.”
Here’s what Dan had to say about the whole event:
“[The Beat Hotel was] a new venue for us, which I have to say sounded brilliant with your settings.
We decided to use a system with some heritage behind it in keeping with the Beats Hotel vibe, having got it sounding so excellent using the DP448 settings. Despite the system’s “heritage” – some might say due to this(!) – it still packed a punch and filled that space perfectly. ”
“Four ground stacks a side gave full coverage and a really nice kick, with a sparkling high end that had the throw all the way to the outside of the 25×25 meter marquee. A set of Martin W3s a side were also flown from the roof beams of the marquee delayed from the mixing desk, and gave it the boost to keep people dancing on the pyramid which housed the now iconic Beat Hotel sign.”
“We had a great comment from a guy who was resident DJ for Head Kandi saying it was the best it had sounded in the Beat Hotel!”
It’s not the final time you’ll see the famous Beat Hotel sign – it’s going on tour to the coolest summer spots including Marrakech in 2020…
So from cutting edge DSP console management, through beasts of the latest amplification and speaker management to (almost) retro care-taking of the decidedly mid-century Beat Hotel as it bows out of Glasto (for now), we’ve been steeped in proceedings one way or another again this year!