Soundworks and Southard First to Acquire Martin Audio WPL

Martin Audio’s new Wavefront Precision Longbow (WPL) system was recently purchased by Soundworks and Southard Audio – making them the first live event production companies to acquire the breakthrough large-format line array worldwide.

Both companies purchased systems that include 24 Martin Audio WPL cabinets, 12 SXH218 hybrid subs and 12 iK42 amps.

Officially launched at ISE 2019 in Amsterdam, WPL is designed as a complete system with external iKON multi-channel amplifiers, automated DISPLAY optimisation software and VU-NET control platform that provides financial accessibility to the higher echelons of touring and installed sound. A three-way, bi-amped system, WPL’s very high output is achieved by utilising Martin Audio’s trademark horn-loading technology across all frequency bands—increasing the acoustic output of the low-frequency section as well as the midrange and HF.

Commenting on the process behind his early decision to commit to WPL, Soundworks founder and CEO Steve Payne explained: “Soundworks and Southard Audio have worked closely together since 1990 and we’d both been using the same model line array system since Mike (Southard) and I decided early on not to compete with but support one another.”

“Not long ago, we reached the point where we needed to upgrade our main line array system and auditioned a lot of different companies including all the major players. As part of the process, I asked my friend Brad Stephens, a rep for Martin Audio, if they made Wavefront Precision with a 12” box and they didn’t at the time. So we looked at other brands and were about to make a final decision on another system when Brad brought us a presentation of the planned WPL 12” line array box.

“It took about three minutes of listening to convince me that Martin Audio had achieved all those goals and the rig sounded really musical and open with lots of punch, everything you’d want in a line array system.”

Mike Southard, founder and owner of Southard Audio, said: “As Steve mentioned, we’d been using another company’s line array for decades and had reached the end of that system’s useful life, so it was time to make a move. Our businesses are regional and on the smaller side, so we weren’t in the position to spend a ton of money on a system.”

“For me, WPL is essentially an MLA system with less processing power,” Southard added. “As far as SPL output, audio acuity and all of the tangible sonic points of the box, WPL is pretty close to MLA with the only real difference being external amplifiers and a lower resolution even though WPL does have certain features such as Hard Avoid up to a point. Plus MLA has been out there, it’s a known quantity and people seem to like it a lot which made it a lower market risk for us to go with Martin Audio. We went in very confident that we had a known entity even though WPL is a brand-new system.”

Payne also said: “The scalable resolution that provides additional output control both on-site and beyond. We’re going into it with two-box per amp channel resolution, and we can always add more amp channels to experiment with one box resolution because Wavefront Precision offers so many choices and possibilities.”

“The fact that Martin Audio is able to bring this incredible control over the coverage pattern and maintain a musical box is a major one-two punch combination for us. It says a lot that we bought into WPL when we did––about our confidence level in the system.”

Southard reported: “Overall, WPL exceeded my expectations even though the Coliseum is a very difficult space with lots of slap and echo. We started off by doing a Hard Avoid on the ceiling down to the top rows as a default and the coverage was seamless. We walked the room carefully and the prediction software was very accurate.”

“I was also very impressed with the availability of SPL and the headroom,” he concluded. “I feel confident we could do any type of act in that space with this amount of PA. I was really happy. Everything they told us was going to happen, happened. WPL rigged easily and the software, cabling, and amp settings worked perfectly right out of the box.”

Payne concluded: “I also felt very positive about WPL. Even though the venue was basically a large empty reverberant arena, the system sounded really good. The tonal balance and voicing were very much Martin Audio which is what we were looking for and when you pushed the system really hard into the limiters, it really held together with no change in the sound, WPL was rock solid all the way. We’re really excited about the choice we’ve made going forward.”