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22live adds ‘tiny’ Martin Audio FP4 for Sigur Rós orchestral monitoring

Experimental Icelandic rock band, Sigur Rós, recently started a two-and-a-half-week tour of North America, featuring a 41-piece orchestra.

This marks the third stage of support from their audio rental company, 22live, which previously covered their 2022 global shows, followed by European summer dates (where the orchestral concept was first introduced), and now tour dates in the United States and Canada.

With each set of dates, there have been progressive advancements in Martin Audio sound reinforcement technology. This culminated in monitor engineer Throstur Albertsson recently adjusting his monitor setup to incorporate powerful XE500 wedges (to complement their IEMs). However, the most significant change involved incorporating 18 of the manufacturer’s new FlexPoint FP4 speakers for local orchestral monitoring.

Explaining the background, 22live’s hire director, Paul Timmins, who has a long-standing relationship with Sigur Rós, stated, “We needed small speakers for the orchestra. I had heard about FlexPoint, and during the Martin Audio Open Day in April, I found out that Ingvar Jónsson – Sigur Rós’ FOH engineer – also planned to attend due to a side project with Martin Audio. He was impressed with the FP4 and XE500 wedges, and he recommended them to the monitor engineer, believing the compact FP4s would be ideal for the orchestra.”

Throstur Albertsson, his colleague, adopted this solution for the orchestra’s foldback. However, timing became a challenge. Martin Audio managed to meet the deadline by expediting the first production run to be ready for the initial six orchestral shows in Europe.

Throstur admitted to being disappointed with aspects of his conventional small monitors and readily agreed to the change. “I was immediately impressed with how good the FP4s sounded. Their coaxial design with 100° dispersion resulted in even tonality. Mounting them was straightforward; I combined the tilt bracket with a microphone stand, and they fulfill their role perfectly.”

Driven by his iK42 amplifiers, he grouped the orchestra into eight sections, applying a separate mix to each group. Asked about the XE500, he commented, “They are incredibly powerful… very loud, especially for instruments like the kick drum. Although, for the most part, the band uses in-ears.”

For the US and Canada tour, as was done with the recent Australian Pink Floyd tour, 22live transported the entire audio inventory to the United States. This included not only monitors but also Martin Audio TORUS and Wavefront Precision systems, showcasing the successful collaboration between the manufacturer and the band’s production team.

Martin Audio was introduced to 22live for the first time during the Black Island production rehearsals in 2022, where a TORUS system was included as part of a control package. When a European tour was announced for the same year, 22live had the opportunity to provide a full PA. The band’s production manager, Giles Woodhead, initiated discussions about the Martin Audio Wavefront Precision option.

Paul Timmins remarked, “Even though their FOH engineer, Ingvar, was accustomed to working with other audio brands, he trusted us, and the deployment was very successful.” Part of this success was due to the positive reception of the TORUS system at the Black Island rehearsals. Ingvar was encouraged that the brand could deliver the desired result, as its underlying technology matched the industry’s best.

Timmins also recognized the need for the technical support team to be familiar with the latest Martin Audio products. He appointed the experienced Joseph Pearce as the system technician and Johnny Buck as the PA technician.

The PA system had to accommodate venues ranging from 2500 to 16,000 capacity. A combination of the large-format double 12” WPL and the smaller double 8” WPS was employed. This flexibility allowed the WPL to be used with WPS side hangs for larger spaces, while the WPL could remain in the truck for the smallest venues. The tour had access to 32 x WPL, 24 x WPS, 12 x SXHF218 subwoofers, six WPM lip fills, and four TORUS T1230 units for in and out-fill.

The audio package was completed with Martin Audio iK42 racks, housed in two double-bay 24U racks, maintaining a tidy arrangement with integral 63A distribution using 22live’s new SES power distribution units.

Following Albertsson’s positive feedback, the monitoring package has been fully integrated, and Paul Timmins also expressed his satisfaction. “Everything about it exudes premium quality, with a proper connector at the back, high-quality fittings, two options for cabinet placement, whether on a mic stand or in a small frame.” However, Albertsson is already considering the future. Apart from wishing he could have obtained more of the impressive FP4s, he mentioned, “I’d be interested in exploring the FP12s for additional monitoring needs.”

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