Defying train strikes and inclement weather, crowds of around 250,000 people made their way to the seaside for Brighton & Hove Pride 2023, helping to raise money for the Brighton Rainbow Fund supporting LGBTQ+ groups and organisations within the local community. It is estimated that more than £25m was brought into the city’s economy over the weekend.

With more than 150 LGBTQ+ artists performing across 12 stages, attention was largely focused on the main Fabuloso stage in Preston Park. Here first night headliners Black Eyed Peas were followed by Steps on Sunday, with Solotech UK for the second year providing its Martin Audio WPL line array for sound reinforcement.

Solotech shines at Brighton & Hove PrideWorking alongside production manager Dean Parker at Wilde Ones International Events, the sound design was based around main PA hangs of 18 WPL per side, with a stage right side hang of six of smaller WPC, and a larger drop of 12 WPC elements stage left.

According to crew chief and system tech Joseph Pearce, this was in response to general site sensitivity and, with the stage pointing parallel to the road, the proximity of housing on the right-hand side.

Eight Martin Audio WPS enclosures provided near fill, while low frequency extension was provided by 20 SXHF218 subwoofers, set in a castellated cardioid broadside array across the front of the stage.

Solotech provided stage monitoring in the shape of 16 of Martin Audio LE1500 floor wedges, with six Torus T1215 constant curvature arrays and four SXHF218 subs on stage.

Set some 70m back from the stage were three delay towers comprising a further 24 WPS set across the three positions, with three SXHF218 subs on each mast providing LF.

Again, Solotech worked alongside Robert Miller of F1 Acoustics to achieve both the onsite and offsite sound thresholds, with audio crew chief and system tech, Joseph Pearce optimising the sound in Martin Audio’s Display software. Miller confirmed that the offsite level had been set at 78dB(A) Leq15 at the nearest problematic area. Following propagation, Joseph Pearce set relatively low SPL caps, rising incrementally to 100dB(A) for the headliners. ‘You have to give yourself room – you don’t want to experience a noise infraction early in a programme that starts at 2pm,’ he explains.

With the presence of fairground carousels and the second stage/dancefloor tent set 300m in front of the main stage, the Display2 software’s Hard Avoid function was used judiciously and meticulously on all the hangs, even taking the precaution of avoiding potential reflections off vendors’ booths. However, the experienced crew chief – on his fourth outing at Pride – said they were able to call on last year’s measurements ‘since we hadn’t moved the PA’. The only adjustment was to take into account the fact that the bleachers were slightly smaller.

Solotech shines at Brighton & Hove PrideMartin Audio’s optimised platform, starting with MLA, has consistently proved to be a winner on the sensitive site: ‘We did [Pride] one year without a Martin Audio PA and this showed in the results, which were poor.’

Joseph Pearce was supported at FOH by William Phillips, who confirmed the successful deployment of the various Wavefront Precision line arrays: ‘WPL displayed extremely even coverage right across the park – the drop-off was minimal and even with rather high winds and wet conditions, the HF was still extremely present.

‘The proximity of residential properties meant we needed to be considerate with levels, although no guest engineer found their mix to be limited, due to the sheer impact of the system. All were impressed by the overall sound, and this was helped by Martin Audio’s technology and offsite steering.’

The cardioid broadside set-up for the subs packed punch without overpowering the mix: ‘The low end was even across the field and a set of three subs in cardioid pattern at each delay tower allowed those at the back to experience a full mix as well. The cardioid array also helped with low end rumble on the stage which meant any wedge mixes were unaffected and allowed the monitor engineers to have a clean stage sound.’

Solotech senior project manager Martin Connolly had confirmed last year that adoption of WPL at both Glastonbury and Hyde Park had paved the way for its adoption in Brighton. Robert Miller agreed that this had resulted in a satisfactory outcome, adding that the site sensitivity had been even more profound since the police had closed off the main road running alongside Preston Park.

‘With no traffic there was nothing to mask the sound [towards the housing],’ he says. ‘On the main stage itself there was no bleed as the sound was very well controlled, whereas with another system it could have been a lot worse. This was definitely the right system for the job.’

As a result Solotech UK was able again to report positive feedback from the army of visiting FOH engineers in support of acts that included Mel C, Zara Larsson, Confidence Man and The Vivienne.

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