The 44 date tour, which included venues across China and South East Asia, the UK, culminating in shows in Ireland in December
UK - Flare Audio has again impressed on former Westlife frontman Shane Filan's second solo tour. The first tour represented a milestone for the West Sussex-based audio manufacturer as it was the first UK-wide outing by a major artist to use Flare's touring speaker system, the X5A line array. The impressive 'audio punch and clarity' combined with the lightweight and compactness of the products led to the production team immediately re-selecting Flare for the second tour.

Configured with six X5s and four Q18 bass units each side and powered by Lab.gruppen PLM20000Q four channel DSP amplifiers, the system was a revelation to sound engineer Darryl Walsh. "To say this system is stunning is an understatement," he enthused. "I can only describe it as a blank canvas for mixing; the PA is sonically almost 'invisible'."

Walsh used the Flare system for 31 of the 34 shows in provincial theatres, where Filan was accompanied by a five piece rock and pop band supplemented by instruments including violin, ukulele and double bass.

"It was a full-on mix with big sound and a lot instruments sitting in a similar acoustic bandwidth," says Walsh. "Flare's X5 delivered a quality and separation that I've never heard before. I was carrying a relatively small, ground stacked system with a maximum of three X5's and four SB218's a side. With the different size and shape of each venue, I tried almost every conceivable configuration of boxes, from a three box line source array to a single box point source. The results were surprisingly consistent. The biggest shock was being able to provide a powerful enough sound to fill a 900 capacity space full of screaming fans with just one X5 per side."

Walsh mixed the Shane Filan shows with a Digico SD9, using up to three X5's and four SB218's per side. Walsh says the system requires very little EQ. "I found myself cutting a small amount of low/mid around 250hz between two to six decibels depending on how many boxes I used," he said.

Walsh also points out the lack of ear fatigue he experienced from using Flare. "I was touring a lot of shows, at volumes required to excite a noisy pop audience, but the only three times I noticed ear fatigue was when I used the house (non-Flare) systems," he says.

The touring rig has the advantage of being extremely compact and flexible, making it capable of handling a range of diverse venues. The X5 can be used as a single unit for point source applications, as ground-stacked small arrays, or large-scale hangs of up to 22 cabinets. "It's an industry leader in terms of both size and high definition natural sound, with excellent throw characteristics and controllability," says Walsh.

Flare Audio has also recently launched what they believe to be the world's first 'fully' open headphones. The Reference R1, aimed at the pro audio and audiophile market, uses Flare's know-how to produce distortion free sound, even at full volume, enabling true transfer and transmission of source material. Both the touring kit and the headphones were used on the 44 date tour, which included venues across China and South East Asia, the UK, and culminating in shows in Ireland in December.

(Jim Evans)

Latest Issue. . .