INDIO, CA — Rat Sound debuted EAW’s new Anya system at the Coachella Festival’s Gobi tent. The system included seven Anya modules per side with a single outfill module flanking a main column of six.
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Rat Sound principals Dave Rat and Jon Monson, who worked with EAW to develop the MicroWedge line of stage monitors, contributed throughout the research and development process for Anya. According to EAW President Jeff Rocha, the decision to deploy the initial pilot build for the high-profile event came relatively late in the planning cycle.
“When Dave and Jon came to the factory to work with the final engineering prototypes, they asked if they could use the first 16-module build live at Coachella,” Rocha said. “Naturally, we were thrilled to showcase our new product at one of our industry’s most important and demanding events.”
The Coachella Festival, held at the Empire Polo Grounds near Palm Springs, features two massive outdoor stages and three very large tent stages. The Gobi tent’s audience area measures roughly 165 feet wide by 200 feet deep (50m x 61m).
Gobi hosted performances from midday until past midnight three days running on back-to-back weekends. Weather conditions ranged from 50° to 100° F and included a once-in-a-decade dust storm that shut many roads for a number of days. Despite the many challenging conditions, the fully integrated Anya system performed flawlessly for the entire run of the show.
“The Anya system sounded great and did an excellent job of covering the space,” Dave Rat said. “It is really exciting to have a hands-on experience with a new technology system thrown right into a challenging, real-world application. It’s especially interesting that even though this was the first time this system was deployed, we were able to hear a wide variety of engineers mix on it. It became readily apparent that Anya is positioned to become a world-class system. Anya fulfilled its sonic and performance expectations, solidifying Rat Sound’s commitment to take delivery of the first 40 production units in June.”
Notable performers on the Gobi stage included: Foals, TNGHT, Janelle Monae, Pusha-
T, Purity Ring, Booka Shade, OMD, Father John Misty, Japandroids, Spiritualized, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Jello Biafra and many, many more. The stage saw a total of 37 performers each weekend, and the wide range of musical styles demonstrated the versatility that the Anya system provides.
Anya uses a comprehensive technology platform that EAW calls Adaptive Performance. Adaptive Performance allows an Anya array to rapidly generate virtually any three-dimensional wavefront surface and simultaneously optimize the system frequency response to perfectly match the optimal requirements of any venue. Specifically, the tremendously high resolution of transducers allows for the use of devices that are perfectly sized to reproduce their target bandwidths. “Gone are the break up modes of large format compression drivers,” Rocha said.
“Each Anya module incorporates a sophisticated acoustics package that includes 22 transducers that are independently driven by 22 amplifier channels and 22 channels of DSP,” Rocha continued. “The horizontally trapezoidal columns hang straight, allowing out fill arrays to hang adjacent to the mains. Gaining so much control over so many devices means that small relative processing differences between neighboring devices result in significant changes in three-dimensional directivity while still maintaining an extraordinary impulse response.”
Rocha also explained that the specialized devices and their extraordinary resolution played a critical role in delivering EAW’s top priority for Anya, spectacular fidelity in a large-format system. “The basic un-adapted acoustics package is outstanding,” he said, “so beyond the application of EAW Focusing, only minimal processing is required to deliver some radical changes to the shape of the wavefront. Despite the abundance of on-board DSP, Anya does not suffer from the tonal degradation associated with overly processed sound systems because the relative change from device to device is very small. And Anya tailors coverage so precisely to the audience area that the impact of room acoustics on fidelity is significantly reduced. Taken all together, these factors produce an infinitely scalable, large-format system that has the impact of a big PA but the fidelity of an enormous pair of studio monitors.”
Adaptive Performance also means that users can readily change the system’s coverage and output characteristics in real time without moving or changing the physical array. As the venue, trim height, audience area, performance location, environmental considerations or even atmospheric conditions change, Anya can change, too. This extraordinary benefit was immediately on display in the Gobi tent.
The original plan for the Gobi tent included out fill columns with not one but two Anya modules. On site, the combination of a slightly-too-low truss and slightly-too-high video screen placed the screen in front of the lower module. With Anya and Adaptive Performance, EAW engineers resolved the situation in a matter of minutes by simply updating the Resolution software model and allowing Anya to do the rest.
“Anya offers many features that I find very interesting and desirable,” Dave Rat said. “Primarily, Anya has the ability to completely overhaul the workflow of setting up large scale sound systems. Currently, line array systems require significant time and effort spent on room modeling and precision box-to-box angles prior to flying the sound system at the predetermined accurate trim height. If there is a miscalculation, the sound system must be lowered and rehung.
“With Anya, the sound system can be flown first, even without modeling. There are no box-to-box angles, and the trim height can be determined by sight lines in real time. After the system has been flown, I can simply place mics where I want the upper and lower coverage limits to be. Anya can precisely locate the mics and then cover the space in between. I am certain that being able to alter vertical coverage and vary the audio energy sent to different areas in real time without making any mechanical changes will prove advantageous in many applications.”
In addition to the seven Anya modules per side, the complete Coachella system included 16 SB2001 dual 21-in subwoofer systems deployed in spaced, cardioid arrays and six KF364NT powered three-way systems for front fill. Ten MW12 MicroWedge stage monitors provided on-stage reference for performers.