Harman Professional’s leading pro-audio brands dominated the Big Top Stage for the first time at this year’s Standon Calling festival in North Hertfordshire.

The fast growing boutique event, which began as a birthday barbecue for founder Alex Trenchard in 2001 before becoming a single-stage, one-day live music event in 2004, has since grown exponentially. Today it occupies the picturesque Standon Lordship site, where Suede, Kelis and Jess Glynne were the main stage headliners.

Dominating the landscape, the vibrant red and white canvas of the Big Top, which was largely used for electronic dance and other diverse acts, could be seen for miles around. Here the line-up included Goldie MBE, Greg Wilson, Theo Parrish, Joey Negro, as well as rising talent Gold Panda, Luke Abbott the Mercury Prize nominated Ghostpoet.

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Glasgow-based Alive Sound are the traditional sound system providers, and their MD, Iain Mackie is production manager for the entire site.

A meeting between him and Stuart Strachan, from Harman Pro UK & Ireland distributors, Sound Technology Ltd, at PLASA Focus in Glasgow back in January — followed by a series of product demos — convinced the Scottish company’s sound engineers that this was the system to back.

Said Strachan, “We knew the JBL dual 10” of the VTX-V20 would be a straight replacement for what they had used previously.” He also realised this could be optimised with the use of JBL® HiQnet Performance Manager™ configuration software.

Mixing at FOH experienced sound engineer and musician Keir Long was able to pilot Soundcraft’s new generation Vi3000 digital mixing console, having previously familiarised himself with the Soundcraft topology on the Vi series forerunner, the Vi6. This time around he was boosted by the Soundcraft Realtime Rack, offering the full suite of UAD Powered Plug-Ins.

As one of the sound engineers who had previously given a favourable opinion following that Glasgow demo he found the transition from Vi6 to Vi3000 an easy one. “It’s a very similar layout and I really enjoyed the sound, which was noticeably different from other desks I had used. I would probably opt for the Vi because it is slightly more forgiving and more analogue-sounding.”

Keir also runs his own studio in Glasgow which runs UAD plug-ins so he was able to take full advantage of the Realtime Rack. “I used a couple of reverbs and compressors, such as the EMT 140 plate reverberator, the Lexicon 224 digital reverb.” Overseeing FOH throughout the three days he reports that there were four visiting sound engineers, all of whom had varying degrees of proficiency on the desk.

Festivals usually run a generic patch and the Soundcraft desk makes it very easy to move channels around and label them for visiting engineers’ preferences without getting into the complications associated with soft patching. One engineer commented that the Vi3000 shines as a festival desk whereas others are so unfriendly to walk up to.

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As for JBL’s flagship VTX, this was configured in two hangs of eight V20 per side, with left/right stacks of four S25 arrayable subwoofers and a centre cluster of four S28 dual 18” subs, supported by six JBL VerTec VT4886 for front fill, helping to provide even coverage. These were powered on the side of the stage by Crown amplification, with a total of six VRacks, comprising a total number of twelve I-Tech 4x3500HD and six I-Tech 12000HD.“

I was very happy with VTX,” concluded Keir Long, “Stuart did well to achieve even coverage [with Performance Manager] and the front to back coverage of the arrays was very even.” He added that the predictably narrow vertical response calculated accurately by JBL LAC prediction software limited undesirable reflections from the tent.