Inside Ministry of Sound’s 30 years of dance celebrations

Ministry of Sound recently celebrated 30 years of dance with a special concert at the O2 Arena, with a selection of dance classics reimagined by the 50-piece London Concert Orchestra, featuring the likes of Paul Oakenfold and other guest DJs.

Revisiting some of the biggest club anthems of the past 30 years, ‘Ministry of Sound Classical presents Three Decades of Dance’ offered a new take on some of the most iconic and best-loved tracks of the genre. And, as featured in Ministry of Sound clubs the world over, a Martin Audio system was provided by RG Jones for the show, with revered engineer Phil Wright on-hand for mixing duties.

Working for promoter Coalition Presents, the company that produced the event with Raymond Gubbay, RG Jones specified 18 MLA systems per side - a similar configuration deployed for the War of the Worlds production at the same venue.

Hangs of 12 MLA Compact provided outfills on each side, while 16 MLX subwoofers were set in a broadside cardioid array with a two metre central gap for a stage thrust, surrounded by a circular screen, on which the DJs performed. Eight DD12s were used as front fills along with some MLA Mini enclosures.

The components were selected by RG Jones’ Jack Bowcher and his colleague Sam Millen handled the prep, assembled the racks, built the network (on a Dante and AES backbone) and was onsite technician.

“We worked together to achieve a great sounding PA, using the Merlins [Martin Audio’s digital loudspeaker management system] to provide more outputs in order to have greater control of the system,” Millen commented. “I then time-aligned the PA and then Doug [Hunt, technician] and I tuned the system together.”

This provided an ideal environment for Wright to mix the sound on a 96-channel DiGiCo SD12. “And we used every channel,” he noted.

Commenting on the show, which marked his first job mixing at the O2, Wright said: “Although it was a loud show, with four DJs, we had to ensure the orchestra was the headliner. Local promoters feared we may had peaked too early, as Paul Oakenfold was on relatively early. But the production went up a level when the orchestra came on.”

On the MLA system, he added: ”We managed to avoid a lot of slapback [using the Hard Avoid feature in the DISPLAY software] and the direct-to-reverberation ratio was mind boggling.”

Meanwhile, the entire orchestra was using in-ear monitors, and most of the instruments were miked with DPA CORE 4099.

“The combination between this and the PA was fantastic,” Wright said. “Despite the proximity to the PA we achieved a super amount of rejection at the back of MLA which meant I could mix it at 105dB comfortably without feedback. The crowd were screaming at 102dB and so I had to put the show on top of that.”

Also represented were Martin Audio’s parent company Focusrite, with its RedNet Audio-over-IP solution, an A6R MkII analogue interface for Dante feeding the Shure PSM1000 in-ears.