Year end review 2014 and into 2015:
When a company doesn't issue any press releases for a protracted time, it either means they have nothing to tell you, or they have just been too busy to tell you. Luckily at Inspired Audio the latter is true, so let's take the lid off a few events from the last six months.
Jasper's Stand Up And Rock tour
In the final quarter of 2014, Andi Churchill of Nottingham-based hire company Fat Sounds was faced with the dilemma of providing sound for the 45-date Jasper Carrot 'Stand up and rock' tour, a mixture of stand-up comedy and live music from former The Move and ELO drummer Bev Bevan and his band. Venues ranged from small to vast theatres and budgets dictated that the sound solution had to fit within the confines and weight limit of a Sprinter van. The solution was Inspired Audio's Optima 5 sub-compact array system. The tour carried twelve Optima 5 array elements, four reFlex B215 enclosures and a pair of eFlex Q5-loaded Flex racks, an inventory that enabled Andi to stay within weight and service the broad spectrum of venues on the itinerary. Commenting on the tour, Andi said
This system is small, light, scalable and sounds stunning, so for this kind of theatre work it is a no brainer. We have used every permutation from three aside on a pole up to flown drops of six per side. We did draft an extra pair of B215 into the mix for a show where we wanted to use cardioid bass but that was more because we could rather than having to'.The tour sold out to rave reviews and the production and management team have endorsed both Fat Sounds and Optima 5 by rebooking Andi for another raft of 2015 tour dates. Result!
Midas Pro Sound
Taxed with looking for a new system to cover a busy pre-Christmas schedule former L Acoustic UK guru, Paul Nicholson, turned to Inspired Audio to sample the Optima 8 system. The campaign started with the Salisbury Christmas lights switch on, an annual event that attracts a 10,000 crowd to the historic city's market place. The system used, which had to throw up to 80 meters across the open square, was two flown drops of eight Optima 8 supported by four reFlex SB218 per side operating in cardioid mode to cure bass issues in the market food hall area behind the stage. Entertainment came from a selection of local bands and radio presenters with a cameo appearance from EastEnders's Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell) to flick that all important switch.
So with the market place twinkling with a festive glow, thoughts turned to a series of gigs at the Salisbury City Hall which ranged from comedy to reggae and rock and roll. The venue has pull-out seating which enables different set ups for different shows. As a result system size varied from six Optima 8 per side for shows on a flat floor, up to eight per side for fully seated shows, the additional boxes just needed to give enough top to bottom coverage. Bass was again used in cardioid, with three reFlex SB218 per side. All systems were run from eFlex Q5 system amplifier units running under networked software control and with a Wi-Fi link from stage to FOH. Main acts over the three week run of events were Joan Armatrading, UB40 and just to Rock it all up Big Country. And Mr Nicholson's reaction was simple, 'It works, it's stunning'.
Into monitor world with Duncan Wilds
Renowned monitor engineer, Duncan Wilds, with credits which include Roni Size, Vanessa Mae, The Feeling, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Natalie Merchant and Rizzle Kicks, decided it was time to invest in some of his own wedge monitor stock. A conversation with that man Sean Hames from LMC Audio led to a shootout session between Martin Audio, D&B and Inspired Audio. It soon filtered out to a two horse race between the seminal M4 and the Inspired AX15. Commenting Inspired's Chris Scott said,
In honesty I had been too conservative with the AX15 set up, the M4 bites, the AX15 was too smooth, so I went away looked again at what I thought we needed to do and invited Duncan to the factory for a second round'.And the result was an order for six AX15 and a pair of reFlex SB118. Initially the system will be driven with eFlex Q5 units with an imminent update to the new eFlex Q20 units. The system delivered into Duncan in early January went straight onto pre-production for a Roni Size drum and bass gig at London's Koko venue. Duncan's comment was, 'The drummer in the band always complains about the drum fill. I switched on the AX15 combined with an SB118 and he smiled, that is unknown, so a result'. So if you haven't heard about England's answer to the M4 yet, you will, Duncan's bringing it to a gig near you soon!
Nottingham FM Arena with N Power
When freelance sound engineer Dave Pallot was taxed with delivering an unseen system to deliver sound into the not insignificant floor space of Nottingham's Trent FM Arena, he picked up the phone and had a chat with the team at Inspired. Having used Optima 5 on smaller shows for Cardiff based AV specialists Genero Productions; he wondered if the system would scale up and cover this gig. Ease Focus plots confirmed it would and predicted dual hangs of nine boxes combined with AX8 cabinets along the stage edge to ground the system. Phone calls to Genero and Nottingham's Fat Sounds secured the stock and the resultant load-in left a few members of the crew predicting disaster, it was too small it couldn't possibly do the gig. Fortunately they were wrong, a simple half hour system tech session between Dave Pallot and Inspired's Chris Scott balanced up drive levels on the hangs (which were driven in blocks of three), delayed the six reFlex B215 enclosures which were ground stacked for low-end support on the musical stingers and put a smile on the faces of all the doubters. Commenting on the show Andi Churchill from Fat Sounds said,
Having toured this system, I know that Optima 5 always exceeds people's expectations. In the arena it did look particularly tiny, but as ever it worked and came out with flying colours, this product is going to become an Audio/Visual industry benchmark'.Watch this space!
So what does the future hold?
Mayhem! As I write the factory has just shipped its first order to Inspired's new dealer in China, we will be telling you more about that in the very near future. It is currently prepping the exhibition stand for the forthcoming Frankfurt show which we need out of the way so that we can assemble an Optima 8 system which will be winging its way to Mexico for a theatre install; the first project with our new Mexican dealer and yes we will be telling you more about that as well in the near future! Throw in a couple of Optima 5 systems to be shipped to UK network users and you probably get the picture, mayhem!
April will be exhibition month, this starts with the Pro Light and Sound show in Guangzhou, 5th - 8th, you will find us on in Hall 4.1, Stand B08, along with Audio Technica (Greater China) and Hiroshi Technologies. The following week we head for the Frankfurt version of Pro Light and Sound, April 15th - 18th, Hall 8, Stand F12, Chris Scott will be joined by Inspired's Systems Engineer Andi Churchill and new export brand manager Bob Harrison, an industry veteran and the only person in the Pro Audio industry purported to have a man servant! Apparently somebody has to print and iron his emails before he reads them. Exhibition fever does not end there as Chris will head for Mexico and Sound Check Expo in Mexico City, April 26th - 28th. You will find us there in combination with YNL & Audio on stand number 216.
So exhibitions mean product launches and we have a few of those as well. The Guangzhou show will concentrate on products from the MQ series including the new to market MQL, a three way enclosure utilising a horn loaded 8" midrange with 15" bass element and 1" exit HF compression driver. Also new to market will be the iQ series, four full range enclosures aimed at the fixed installation market. Products launched will be the iQ8, iQ10, iQ12 and iQ15.
Frankfurt will also show the new brigade from the MQ and iQ ranges but will also focus on live sound with the launch of the new eFlex Q20 System Drive unit. Offering 20,000 watts of output power across four channels, AES, Dante or analogue input options, direct Ethernet control and advanced DSP functions on board, the unit is set to become Inspired's benchmark for touring systems from the Optima range.
Mexico misses out on the MQ and iQ ranges and concentrates on Optima 8, the eFlex Q20 and Axis monitors, products which are to be our main focus in this territory.
Sounds like no sleep 'til May, so exciting times at Inspired!
Chris Scott - Head of design: 05/03/2015