As Capital Sound Hire enter the build-up phase to their busy summer season ahead, they discuss plans for continued investment in their professional sound equipment hire stock.

Following the purchase of their Martin Audio MLA loudspeaker system in 2012-14, comprising MLA, MLA Compact and MLA Mini, the London-based professional live sound equipment hire company have recently undertaken a new investment program to focus on their infrastructure, maintaining and upgrading all elements of their professional sound equipment hire stock to ensure that it meets clients’ needs in terms of commerciality, functionality and cutting-edge technology.

“Whilst we’re known as the ‘go-to’ Rock-and-Roll touring sound hire company in London, Capital Sound Hire caters for a broad range of live sound market sectors including corporate and conference work, festivals, theatre and comedy” commented Paul Timmins, General Manager at Capital Sound Hire. “It’s important that our hire inventory is capable of servicing the needs of all of those market segments just as effectively as it does concert touring and this really drove our decision to invest in new and replacement hire equipment to support the work that we do across the live sound market.”

Timmins and Assistant General Manager Lisa Santos Hannan visited LMC Audio to discuss their requirements.Lisa and I took a trip out to visit Will at LMC on a rainy January day”, explained Timmins. “LMC and Capital go way back with business dealings, mainly due to our Martin Audio connections, yet we were amazed at the range of products they were able to offer and discuss with us. Will’s in-depth knowledge of the pro audio brands and equipment solutions available, including LMC’s part-exchange facility, together with his great character made getting a deal together productive and fun.”

Will Hinkly, Technical Sales at LMC Audio commented: “When I was approached by Paul and Lisa to consult with them on their equipment needs, I was able to narrow down the immediate requirements into a package which plainly and simply worked for them. We were able to supply on a quick turnaround from the first meeting to the delivery of the goods and that was key for them with such a busy diary scheduled for the coming months.”

Capital Sound Hire’s new investment includes Yamaha QL digital mixing consoles and additional Rio racks. “From a commerciality and functionality perspective, the QL consoles represent an important step forwards from the LS9s and M7s we had been using, enabling us to service the corporate and conference work that we do even more capably,” noted Timmins. “This investment integrates well with our existing Yamaha CL5 and Rio stocks to allow for a larger networked system utilising the same audio feeds across a large site with minimal latency, which, although is largely down to the Dante technology, it is only as good as the system that controls it, and we feel the Yamaha offering is one of a known quantity to incorporate that technology and deploy it seamlessly. As part of a package including d&b M4 wedges and Martin Audio MLA Mini with DD6 fills as a combo, we have a very attractive offering that will comprehensively serve the sector.”

Ensuring that the sound equipment that Capital Sound Hire is supplying is both the best suited to their clients’ needs and cutting-edge in terms of technology means replacing some units that may still be considered current by some users for those that are at the very forefront of technology, whilst making efficient use of the stock that is still very much current in terms of alternative applications.

“We want to be able to put smart-looking Shure packs into the engineers’ hands and we want to see wedges with clean, neat grills on the stage, not dented, scratched equipment. It’s all about how you present yourself to the end user and the investment we’ve made in our equipment really demonstrates the investment we are ultimately making in our clients”, said Timmins. “At the same time we’re now even smarter in terms of our approach to efficiency and maximising on the use of our hire equipment. Part of being successful is utilising the stock you’ve got; much of the kit we’re replacing is still functional, we’re simply replacing it before it’s obsolete and where there’s still a market for it, that equipment can be utilised for other applications. I guess you might say we’re thinking ‘greener’ and that’s a good thing.”

“Channelling our latest investment into our hire equipment infrastructure includes updating our drive racks, cabling, panel systems and all of the ancillary equipment required to integrate the systems” commented Santos Hannan.

Historically, Capital Sound Hire’s XTA processors play a key role in linking this infrastructure together, their DP224 and DP226s providing all of the processing for their systems and acting as the ‘real work horses’ said Timmins, running primarily as the crossover solution for their Martin Audio Wavefront W8L and W8LC systems over Audiocore. “This new influx of DP448 and DP444 will replace the 224s and 226s of old. After what has been a solid run, we felt it was the right time to move on to the DP4 Series processors  which bring immediate benefits in terms of their extra processing power, better IO flexibility, plus AES3 as standard and of course their space saving advantage. We’re also interested in the FIR filters that can be utilised on the new DP4 series processors which will hopefully unlock some extra applications we can deploy the processors on using our existing equipment at a later date.”

The new Shure P9HW personal monitor bodypacks that Capital Sound Hire have invested in again represent a desire to remain modern. “We’ve been using Shure P6HWs from day one and they have always been in demand. 90% of riders still specify hardwire in-ear systems and if anything we have found usage has increased”, commented Timmins.

“The P9HWs will bring even greater satisfaction to Capital Sound Hire’s clients looking for contemporary equipment with an improved headphone amp and new sleeker design”, commented Hinkly, plus, noted Timmins: “they give us the option to go down the rechargeable route with the SB900 lithium-ion batteries which can charge inside the packs making for a really neat solution. We’ve also made a shift in our front of house drive racks and upgraded from the older Dolby Lake Processors to the more current Lake LM44 model which allows for more of a systems approach and networking capability using the Dante protocol amongst the Digital console networks deployed in the field. These processors offer great flexibility for us whether throwing digital or analogue feeds at them, the sample rate converters and the signal and network redundancy make for a solid ‘swiss army knife’ product that we will eventually want to roll out across all of our front of house drive racks. 50% of what we stock and supply is driven by rider-specific demands. The other 50% we can be more flexible with in terms of creating solutions to users’ needs by recommending new equipment that they may not have tried before. We enjoy that part of the job very much and it’s another reason why it’s important to keep the equipment relevant and up to date.”

Amongst their recent equipment investment are some additional DPA d:vote 10-piece microphone kits following a successful season with the product last year. “We love the multiple applications and flexibility of the microphones and the sound quality is superb to boot. They have become a must for every one of our engineer’s mic kits,” added Timmins.

The Capital Sound Hire team intend to deploy the Yamaha QL consoles and the compact D&B m4 monitors on the smaller stages at the upcoming British Summer Time at Hyde Park festival taking place in June. “We’re looking forward to introducing the new investment at this year’s show!” said Timmins.

LMC Audio will shortly be rolling out Yamaha CL and QL training sessions with Capital Sound Hire at their associate company, SW19’s studios. The training will incorporate all of the new features that Version 3 brings to the systems, whilst integrating other manufacturer’s products such as Focusrite REDNET, Lake LM DSP architecture and Shure ULX-D digital radio.3