Experimental Icelandic rock band, Sigur Rós recently embarked on a two-and-a-half-week tour of North America, complete with a 41-piece orchestra.
It marks the third phase of support from their audio rental company 22live, who earlier covered their 2022 world shows, followed by European summer dates (where the orchestral idea was first introduced) and now tour dates in the United States and Canada.
Each wave of dates has seen progressive iterations of Martin Audio sound reinforcement, culminating in monitor engineer Throstur Albertsson recently changing his monitor set-up for powerful XE500 wedges (to complement their IEM’s) but more significantly 18 of the manufacturer’s new FlexPoint FP4 for local orchestral monitoring.
Explaining the background, 22live hire director, Paul Timmins, who has a long relationship with Sigur Rós, said “We needed some tiny speakers for the orchestra. I’d got wind about FlexPoint and when I attended the Martin Audio Open Day in April I discovered that Ingvar Jónsson – Sigur Rós FOH engineer – was also planning to visit because of a side project with Martin Audio he was involved with. He was impressed with the FP4 and XE500 wedges and told the monitor engineer how great they were, believing the diminutive FP4s would be ideal for the orchestra.”
His colleague, Throstur Albertsson, duly adopted this solution for the orchestra foldback, but the challenge became one of timing. Martin Audio met the deadline by fast tracking the first production run in order to meet the first six orchestral shows in Europe.
“I WAS IMMEDIATELY IMPRESSED WITH HOW WELL FP4’S SOUNDED, AND THE FACT THEY ARE COAXIAL, WITH 100° DISPERSION, THE TONALITY WAS REALLY EVEN”.
Throstur Albertsson, Monitor Engineer
Throstur admitted to having been disappointed with elements of his traditional tiny monitors and readily acquiesced. “I was immediately impressed with how well FP4’s sounded, and the fact they are coaxial, with 100° dispersion, the tonality was really even. Mounting them was easy as I combined the tilt backet onto a mic stand and they do the job perfectly.”
Driven by his iK42s he is grouping the orchestra into eight sections, applying a separate mix for each of the groups. Asked about the XE500, he said “They are f***ing monsters … really loud, especially on something like the kick drum, albeit for the most part the band are on in-ears.”
For the US and Canada tour, as they have done with the recent Australian Pink Floyd tour, 22live shipped the entire audio inventory Stateside. As well as monitors, this also includes both Martin Audio TORUS and Wavefront Precision, marking a successful progression of the manufacturer with the band’s production team.
Martin Audio had been introduced by 22live for the first time at the Black Island production rehearsals, in 2022, where as part of a control package, a TORUS system was included. When a European run was announced for the same year, 22live were given the
opportunity to provide a full PA, and the band’s production manager, Giles Woodhead, began conversations regarding the Martin Audio Wavefront Precision option.
Said Paul Timmins, “Although their FOH engineer, Ingvar, had been used to working with other audio brands, he trusted us, and the deployment was very successful.” This was also partly due to the fact that the TORUS system had been so well received at the Black Island rehearsals that Ingvar was encouraged that the brand could deliver the result he was looking for, sensing that its underlying technology matched the best in the business.
Timmins also knew that the technical support team needed to be fully conversant with the latest Martin Audio products, and so nominated the experienced Joseph Pearce as system tech and Johnny Buck as PA tech.
The PA needed to cater for venues ranging in size from 2500-16,000 capacity, and so they arranged a combination of the large-format double 12” WPL and smaller double 8” WPS. “This combination meant that for the larger spaces the WPL could be deployed with WPS side hangs, while in the smallest of venues the WPL could remain in the truck entirely. In total, the tour had at its disposal 32 x WPL, 24 x WPS, 12 x SXHF218 subwoofers, six WPM lip fill, and four TORUS T1230 for in and outfill.
Completing the audio package, Martin Audio iK42 rack were built in two double-bay 24U racks, keeping the packaging neat with integral 63A distribution utilising 22live’s new SES power distros.
Following Albertsson’s glowing report, the monitoring package is now also fully ensconced, and Paul Timmins was equally complimentary. “Everything about it feels premium, with a proper connector on the back, decent fittings, two options of how you hold the cabinet, and whether on a mic stand or in a little frame.” But Albertsson is already thinking to the future. Aside from wishing he could have got his hands on more of the formidable FP4s, he said, “I’d love to take a look at the FP12s for some additional monitoring requirements.”