Wavefront delivers for Richmond Folk Festival
Tuesday, 8 November 2022
richmond-folkThe three-day free festival is held annually in the city’s downtown Riverfront Plaza area (Dave Parrish Photography)
USA - Martin Audio partner Soundworks of Virginia equipped the five main stages of the long-running Richmond Folk Festival, an annual celebration of American culture and roots music, with the manufacturer’s optimisable Wavefront Precision line array speakers.
Promoted by Venture Richmond, a non-profit organization, this three-day free festival, with which Soundworks have been involved for more than a decade, is held annually in the city’s downtown Riverfront Plaza area - spanning an area of almost 20 acres. An offshoot of the National Folk Festival, it is one of the largest events in Virginia, drawing around 200,000 visitors from across the country and featuring more than 30 global artists.
Some 130 Martin Audio components were specified across the site, and Soundworks’ founder and CEO, Steve Payne, notes that this exhausted all 124 available channels of their 31 iKON iK42 amplifiers, which were detailed to drive the various PA rigs in 2-box resolution.
For the main Altria amphitheatre stage they turned to Martin Audio’s largest format WP, fielding 12 WPL enclosures per side, over three SXH218 per side. Four WPS were deployed for front-fills, with an additional CDD-LIVE 15 on top of an SXP218 on each stage flank for side-fills.
The smaller Dominion Energy Dance Pavilion (under an 80ft x 160ft tent) saw eight WPC flown per side over two SXH218 subs bridged per side, with CDD-LIVE 15 over an SXP218 on each wing providing side-fills. In addition, 10 Martin Audio XE500s were provided as stage monitors.
The CoStar Group Stage was rigged in an 80ft x 120ft tent with six WPS flown per side over two SXC118 subs. The CarMax Stage was similarly configured but with the addition of four XP12s as out-fills and delays. Finally, the smallest of the tents (50ft x 100ft) housed the Virginia Folk Life Stage where four WPC were stacked on top of an SXH218 subwoofer on each side.
Working alongside production manager Colleen Arnerich, from the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and Venture Richmond festival manager Stephen Lecky, Steve Payne outlined Soundworks’ approach to a sound design masterminded by the company’s president and senior sound engineer, Grant Howard, and system tech Bryan Hargrave. They specified the PA systems to meet or exceed the parameters laid out by sound designer, Steve Fisher.
“We were given free rein to deploy the systems as they best saw fit,” remarked Payne. ”In our experience the difference between 1- and 2-box resolution is discernible when listening critically, but not dramatic. Having to run the systems in 2-box resolution due to the available amp channels was only a minor concession.
“Having run Wavefront Precision systems for over two years we have become accustomed to achieving a high level of performance with 100% consistency. It is a very gratifying situation.”
He added that the systems had received positive reviews from every sound engineer on site for their flat response and ability to accurately reproduce the myriad of musical styles and instruments encountered at such a diverse festival.

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