Stairway Productions’ Menno Smit

The Netherlands - The first time Stairway Productions’ Menno Smit heard a full-bore Martin Audio concert system was at Grace Jones’ Lowlands Festival appearance in Holland, back in 2009. “I was just blown away by this wall of sound. In fact, I was so impressed by the throw of the Wavefront [W8L] Longbow speakers that I decided to pursue a career in live audio,” he said.

This was after a background first as a singer before switching to technical production, attending including Codarts University for the Arts in Rotterdam and learning about music production and creative producing. He then set out in the studio world, working with bands like the now popular Chef'Special, before transitioning to live sound.

Parallel to his academic work he had also set up Stairway Productions as far back as 2007 to service small gigs from his base in Delft, located between Rotterdam and the Hague.

But 2014 was the year that proved the turning point. “I was looking to upgrade my PA system from a budget brand to a more professional system,” he said. “I went to TM Audio and they demo’d some different brands, but it was Martin Audio that stood out. I eventually went for the Blackline X12+ which I still use as a multipurpose speaker.

“What I like about Martin Audio, apart from the very direct and clear sound,” he continued, “is that they offer solutions for every situation. When I was starting out with small events there was a system available that suited my needs and budget. But as the events became more demanding, I didn't have to change brands to get better results.”

This is exemplified by the systematic evolution of his inventory. This reached a pinnacle last month when he placed an order for 24 WPC, which he will run on his own productions (and as dry hire), along with his existing SX218 subs, once it’s delivered next year.

With an eye to the future, he notes that municipalities in Holland are getting stricter with sound control rules year on year, requiring cardioid subs and the more tapered control solution that Wavefront Precision offers. He already has experience of WPC, having joined forces with fellow Dutch production company DSL on festivals. “We share the same vision as to what a system should sound like, though of course DSL are bigger and have 30 years more experience.”

He already has his own portfolio of regular festival work in Delft, including the Jazz and Blues Festivals, and Knapsack Festival, (a carnival of small boats featuring Martin Audio sound systems), as well as all the outdoor events for ‘het Brouwhuis Delft’ such as ‘Koningsdag op het Brouwplein’ (Kings Day Festival).

Latest Issue. . .