Old and new
Loud N Clear made several new additions to its inventory and combined them with trusted solutions when Ellie Goulding made her Lebanese debut at Biel. James Ling reports
Rental companies live and die by the quality of their inventory. To win business they must ensure they have the necessary equipment to meet riders and fulfil an artist’s needs. As these requirements change, rental houses need to be flexible and make additions, meaning the next big investment is never too far away.
However, this does not mean buying gear to service just one gig. Long-term use is the ultimate goal for any piece of equipment a production house purchases. In order to get the best return on investment, a rental house wants to see its equipment out and earning money regularly over a period of years. There is, therefore a balance that needs to be struck between purchasing new gear, and making the most out of an existing inventory.
Beirut-based rental house, Loud N Clear, is a prime example of a rental house looking to achieve that balance. The core of its setup remains very similar for many of the concerts it supplies. However, it is regularly expanding its inventory to follow industry trends.
The rental house saw three of its recent purchases start to pay back on the investment when Ellie Goulding made her Beirut debut in what was billed as the biggest concert of the Lebanese summer. Taking place at Biel and promoted by MixFM, the concert gave Roger Bou Farhat and his team the opportunity to pair some of its latest purchases with Loud N Clear’s trusted regular line up.
Loud N Clear is no stranger to Biel, the company has equipped the venue on many occasions for acts covering a multitude of genres. As a result, the production house has devised a standard solution to handle the room’s challenging acoustics. ‘It is a very noisy room, there is no acoustic treatment in the venue so it is quite difficult to get the sound right. We have worked here many times though, so we know what works well,’ says Mr Bou Farhat.
‘The main PA is our regular setup,’ continues the Loud N Clear general manager, describing the system design for Ellie Goulding’s performance. ‘It consists of 24 Martin Audio W8L Longbow cabinets with 24 S218 subs for low end, while outfill is eight W8LMs. Power is from Lab.gruppen FP10000Q amplifiers.’ The PA is a proven solution for the company, and Mr Bou Farhat feels it is more than capable of handling any act. ‘I love the Martin Audio sound, it is clear and clean. We have had a lot of success with Longbow.’
Another part of the production company’s long-standing inventory that was put to use was the Sennheiser in-ear monitors. While these and the PA were the tried and tested part of the setup, both were controlled by new elements. Loud N Clear put to use a pair of new desks for FOH and monitors. ‘We have bought a DiGiCo SD ten which is on its first gig and an Avid Venue Profile which we are using for the second time,’ says Mr Bou Farhat. ‘Now we can offer any desk an act wants.
‘We put the SD ten on monitors because we are new DiGiCo users,’ continues Mr Bou Farhat. ‘I bought the desk because I see it all the time on the riders, I have to order what I see on the technical riders. It has been a good investment because after this concert, it is going straight on to another one.’
It wasn’t only the desks which were new for the concert, Loud N Clear also invested in a pair of Lake LM44 processors to meet the rider. ‘Roger has been kind enough to buy us the Lake processors and a tablet so we can do good system EQ which is really important to us,’ notes Joe Harling, Ellie Goulding’s touring FOH engineer. ‘Since they came out there has been no other system EQ that can touch it.
‘We hired equipment locally for this gig, which is unusual for us – we’ve been touring with everything,’ continues Mr Harling. The timing between performances meant that it was impossible to ship the equipment from Europe to Lebanon in time for the show. However, the production did bring its own backline and mic package, consisting of models from Sennheiser, Audio-Technica and beyerdynamic.
For his part, Mr Harling was very happy with the setup. ‘The Venue isn’t my usual desk, but I have used it before on this tour and I have showfiles for it,’ he explains. ‘The Martin Longbow rig sounds really good, and the room is okay considering its size and shape.’
Going by the reaction of the crowd, the front of house engineer wasn’t the only one pleased with the way the concert sounded. A packed house at Biel seemed keen to celebrate the singer’s debut in Lebanon, enjoying Mr Harling’s mix whilst mesmerised by the complex visuals from the large LED screens and compact yet comprehensive lighting rig.
As for the new equipment, this also seemed to pass the test. ‘I am very happy with the two new desks and the processors, I am sure we will be using them even more in the coming months,’ reasons Mr Bou Farhat. ‘We are still getting used to the new equipment but we will keep using them for whichever concerts want them.’
The next stop for the desks sees them shipped straight from Biel a couple of hours up the coast for Julio Iglesias, the opening concert of the Edeniyat 2014 festival. ‘For this event we are switching them round,’ says Mr Bou Farhat. ‘We will have the SD ten on FOH duties while the Venue Profile will cover monitors.’
This is clearly a positive sign for Loud N Clear’s latest purchases. The more performances that the new additions are hired out on, the quicker they will provide a return on investment for the rental company, and the quicker they will become part of its tried and tested setup.