Taiwanese pop singer Jolin Tsai’s new album Play was given the highest accolade by the Chinese music industry in 2015, winning Best Mandarin Album at the 26nd Annual Pop Music Awards.
Soon afterwards, her Play World Tour began and after a successful three days in Taipei Arena, the tour visited the Chinese mainland.
The production spared nothing. Concert Directors Travis and Stacyz, having worked with Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, were brought in to create the visual design.
MSI Japan was in charge of the sound production and Martin Audio’s MLA system was chosen for the Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou leg of the tour.
Yukihiko Soka, the FOH Engineer, explained his choice: “In my experience, all other array systems encounter problems with sound consistency both within a venue and on every stop of a tour.
“Given that this tour would visit so many different types of venue in quick succession, the time required to set up, configure and test a traditional array would not have been possible and so would have impacted the quality of the tour.”
He continued: “The unique optimising software provided with MLA and the multi-cellular array design itself has perfectly solved the problems of consistent sound. This means our mixing output can be delivered to every corner of the audience area with amazing accuracy and consistency, which was totally unimaginable before.”
Beijing Capital Gymnasium represented the greatest sound challenge of the tour – well-known for its acoustic challenges. This was coupled with a tour production that has a four-sided stage facing out to grandstands on all axes, and the necessity for the sound to reach the audience in all sectors with constant SPL and coverage.
In addition, the main mixing area was less than 10 metres from the stage, which placed a great challenge on the whole PA system set-up. With so much time spent on the production of the stage itself there was little time for the rigging and testing of the sound system.
Yasuhiko Watanabe, System Engineer, reported that the MLA had a fast and easy setup: “Traditional array design would have meant predicting a result first, and then making tweaks in the software, and then having to wait for the software to carry out another design, and so on.
“But MLA Display software just reverses the sequence. You start with what you want to achieve and the software works in reverse to automatically calculate the DSP parameters for each individual acoustic cell.
“As mixing engineers and system engineers, we only need to consider the artistic results, and leave the technical details to the computer; this is a great innovation of workflow.”
The sound design consisted of an array of 11 MLA and an MLD (downfill) on each flank of the sides facing the wider grandstand, plus an array of nine MLA on each flank of the sides facing the narrower grandstand. There were also three MLX subwoofers on each flank on every side of the stage.
Due to the importance of this tour, Shuzo Fujii, chairman and founder of MSI, and Motoshige Nishio, general manager of MSI, accompanied the tour throughout and took the opportunity to develop a new alliance. Nishio commented: “MSI will keep expanding in Asia, especially in China, where the performing market is doing so well.
“So for this reason, MSI has formed a strategic alliance with Pacific Budee [distributor for Martin Audio in both live sound and commercial projects in China, Hong Kong and Macao] and we will jointly promote the famous system together.”