Configured with three X5As and four Q18 bass units each side and powered by Lab.gruppen PLM20000Q four channel DSP amplifiers, the system was a revelation to sound engineer Darryl Walsh. “To say this system is stunning is an understatement,” he enthused. “I can only describe it as a blank canvas for mixing; the PA is sonically almost ‘invisible’.”
Walsh used the Flare system for 31 of the 34 shows in provincial theatres, where Filan was accompanied by a five piece rock and pop band supplemented by instruments including violin, ukulele and double bass.
“It was a full-on mix with big sound and a lot instruments sitting in a similar acoustic band width,” says Walsh. “Flare's X5 delivered a quality and separation that I've never heard before. I was carrying a relatively small, ground stacked system with a maximum of three X5's and four Q18s a side. With the different size and shape of each venue, I tried almost every conceivable configuration of boxes, from a three box line source array to a single box point source. The results were surprisingly consistent. The biggest shock was being able to provide a powerful enough sound to fill a 900 capacity space full of screaming fans with just one X5 per side.”
Walsh mixed the Shane Filan shows with a Digico SD9, and says the system requires very little EQ. “I found myself cutting a small amount of low/mid around 250hz between two to six decibels depending on how many boxes I used,” he said.
Walsh also points out the lack of ear fatigue he experienced from using Flare. “I was touring a lot of shows, at volumes required to excite a noisy pop audience, but the only three times I noticed ear fatigue was when I used the house (non-Flare) systems,” he says.
Flare Audio has pioneered a new approach to line array design, applying the theory of Waveform Integrity through its patent-pending SpaceTM enclosure structure, and its Vortex™ exhaust technology.
The touring rig has the advantage of being extremely compact and flexible, making it capable of handling a range of diverse venues. The X5A can be used as a single unit for point source applications, as ground-stacked small arrays, or large-scale hangs of up to 22 cabinets per hang. “It’s an industry leader in terms of both size and high definition natural sound, with excellent throw characteristics and controllability,” says Walsh.
Other aspects of the spec include a slim panel design and integral flying system, making the X5A a cost-effective option for rental companies, as a fast-rigging system that occupies minimal truck or storage space. The Q18 bass units produce a deep directional bass to complement the X5 loudspeakers, using optimised driver alignment with Flare Audio’s Nanoflow™ driver alignment to achieve efficient coupling for the minimum amount of wave damage for low frequencies.
Flare Audio has also recently launched what they believe to be the world’s first ‘fully’ open headphones. The Reference R1, aimed at the pro audio and audiophile market, uses Flare’s know-how to produce distortion free sound, even at full volume, enabling true transfer and transmission of source material. Both the touring kit and headphones were used on the tour, which included venues across China, South East Asia and the UK, culminating in shows in Ireland.
Walsh used the R1s to great effect on the shows, using them to mix when he needed to exclude audience noise. “They sound amazing and create a space that I haven’t felt in any other headphone or in-ear monitor,” he says. “Being able to reference with a headphone that has a very similar feel to the PA speakers really made it easier to isolate myself from the audience for a minute or two and place things in the mix with the confidence that it would translate accurately on the PA. On one occasion I mixed an entire show on headphones due to the atrocious mix position. I went out and checked the mix a few times but felt very comfortable with any changes I was doing on the ‘cans’. I could easily tell what the unused mics were picking up and achieve slightly better fader positions.”
He enthuses: “Flare’s uniform technology can only be a good thing for the music industry: the lack of distortion and ear fatigue caused by these products and the accuracy required to mix on their systems means sound engineers using Flare will listen more intently and deliver a better mix for the audience.”