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MFi Pro "goes the distance"... Providing tailored Pro Audio support at socially distanced events

Updated: Mar 11



As a host of businesses and events begin to reopen, the Covid-19 Pandemic has resulted in a number of new restrictions and modifications that provide for safe and social distancing. This has created additional challenges to the normal Pro-Audio Production setup and configuration that MFi Pro has normally provided in the past.


We decided to simulate exactly how our Pro-Audio setup would be perform under these circumstances. More importantly, we wanted to determine how to achieve the best sound in situations where crowd attendees would be dispersed over a larger area, versus a traditional event where they would be seated within close proximity of each other.


For this experiment, we chose two sets of Nexo Speaker System Arrays; the GEO M6 and the GEO S12’s. We not only wanted to provide a side by side (A, B) comparison of the two arrays, we also wanted to be able to pan the signal between the top and bottom of each array for an A, B, and C type comparison. At the furthest end, we were between 160 and 200 feet from the speaker arrays.

Using the standard measurements of a football field, we determined where the speaker and podium would be and set up on the field a placed a microphone at that location. The arrays that we set up were representative of one half of what a normal configuration would be on either side of a stage or podium.


Nexo’s Geo M6 speaker advertising slogan is “Fill the room with sound, not Speakers”. These small unassuming boxes are not to be underestimated. The M6 delivers uncompromising full-range sound in a wide variety of fixed installations and mobile applications. For our purposes, we conducted a series of microphone and music content tests.


The results were fantastic. We were able to project full, clear, audio even at the furthest distance thresholds. A surprising amount of sound from such a small box array and footprint. With either line of speakers, the science of both configuration and simulation is what really sets them apart. Nexo’s NS-1 System Configuration Software has an intuitive drag and drop interface and can be used in conjunction with all Nexo systems and sub bass cabinets.


NS-1 measures speaker data processing with complex math data to predict SPL (Sound Pressure Level) and three-dimensional delay coverage. It combines acoustical and mechanical computations with tools for optimizing curved vertical array design. We use this software for every Pro-Audio installation and live event. This ensures not only the best possible sound, but even “placement” of clear, unobstructed audio.


Plymouth NH Regional High School holds socially distanced Graduation


While many schools and educational institutions struggle to navigate the logistical complexities that the Covid-19 Pandemic has presented, Plymouth NH Regional High School opted for a traditional Graduation with several modifications to ensure “safe distancing”. That included the requirement for dispersed audio over a large geographic footprint. MFi Pro was on-hand to provide the Pro Audio expertise and support required.


Administrators set up a stage at the front entrance of the school and utilized the multi-tiered parking lot for family and attendees. Graduating students were socially distanced in the front parking lot of the school.

While most schools choose a large sports field for such events, graduating Senior and Class President Taylor Shamberger acknowledged just how drastically their senior year had changed in a matter of weeks and months leading up to graduation. She also drew the parallel that this was the first image many had of the school (the front doors situated just behind the stage and podium). The exact place where they first arrived as young freshmen students. A fitting comparison given the location and creative adaptation to current events and circumstances.


For this particular setup, school administrators directed attendees to park their vehicles in the adjacent parking lots facing the school, drive-in style. As our in-house parking lot demonstration illustrated, we chose the Nexo GEO M6 arrays for the project.


The challenge for this environment was making sure that all participants (even those seated in vehicles located in the very top parking lot) could adequately hear the ceremony and various presenters. The M6 dispersed arrays provided just the coverage we needed to evenly project audio at the required distances and were situated at a height of roughly 19 feet; courtesy of our Sumner telescoping lifts.


For additional coverage, we added Nexo’s line of PS12’s; one on each side of the stage (and one center stage) to bridge the gap between our M6 arrays and to provide coverage for the wide section of dispersed students in the middle.


As the event got under way, we walked to several different locations to make sure that audio levels were clear and concise. The Nexo M6’s did not disappoint. For such a small form factor, the arrays sounded great and had no problem providing clear audio signals at the farthest reaches of the event. It was evident we were reaching these friends and family members as each vehicle would enthusiastically honk their horn when the name of their graduate was called!


We received several compliments on the sound from visitor, faculty, and administrator alike. It was wonderful to see the community of Plymouth and the Plymouth Regional High School pull together, confront challenges, be creative, resourceful, and develop safe distancing protocols – all to a successful outcome.


It just demonstrates that with the proper planning, safeguards, and logistics, an event such as this is absolutely possible. MFi Pro can provide quality, dispersed, no-compromise, professional audio for your event as well.

More so, for all of the hard work and academic achievements that were lauded on this day, we felt good about the fact that in spite of current circumstances these students were not denied the well-deserved opportunity to walk their Graduation, a truly once in a lifetime experience.


MFi Pro couldn’t be more proud of these students and we were honored to have been part of it. Contact MFi Pro today so we can assist with your socially distanced event.


Town of North Andover MA holds "first ever" outdoor Town Meeting


MFi Pro has had a long relationship with the Town of North Andover Massachusetts. In light of recent events, the town grappled with how to continue important town business while mitigating the risks associated with gatherings of large groups. In particular, how to execute the objectives, requirements, and important Articles of their annual Town Meeting.


Town Moderator Mark Di Salvo (in partnership with brothers Rich and Dave Kaufman) developed a software program designed to calculate the space required for large gatherings based on the number of individuals expected to attend. The digital calculator is free and available to the public at safe-meeting.org.


With that came the decision to move forward with their town meeting at a venue that would accommodate the space needed for such a gathering; the North Andover High School Football Field. Di Salvo affectionately described the event using the Italian term “Al fresco” (meaning in the open air) and pointed out that this had not been done since the earliest days of North Andover town government.


Due to the fact that this was a much more “vast” space than that of Plymouth Regional High School, we decided to deploy and put the Nexo’s GEO S12’s to use. These larger arrays proved worthy of providing even more audio power, dynamic range, and headroom, with an effective range of up to 600 feet. System flexibility is further extended by the availability of special ‘ST’ long-throw versions of both cabinets, perfect for use in sports arenas or similarly large events.


In addition, a set of 4 Yamaha DXR8 Speakers were staged at the left side of the field where the town had set up a number of canopies. These spanned the entire width of the field. The most compact of the DXR Series speakers, the DXR8 makes the most of its 1100W of power, delivering extremely high output while maintaining outstanding resolution. Based on the number of speakers and presenters involved, multiple microphones were set up both on stage and near the front of the stage so attendees could address the Board with any questions or comments they may have.


Electro-Voice (EV) Polar Choice Desktop microphones were used at these locations. These low-profile free-standing tabletop microphones feature a dual-section gooseneck and an elegant base. They easily switch between four polar patterns; omni, cardioid, super-cardioid, or hyper-cardioid. We often use these at public speaking events because they perform well under a variety of conditions.

Because of the “public” nature of this event (with the potential of several different individuals using the same microphone), extra precautions were taken. MFi Pro provided an individual strictly dedicated to monitoring microphone usage. Three different microphones were designated for public use and were set at varying heights. If anyone physically touched the microphone, it was sanitized immediately afterward. In instances where someone got within close proximity of a microphone, the foam windscreen was discarded and replaced. In addition, foam windscreens were discarded and replaced throughout the meeting as an added sanitary measure.


In terms of the Moderator or other Board members, they consistently used the same microphones when addressing the public and several of the EV microphones were set up on the stage tables in fixed locations where the members were seated, eliminating microphone usage by multiple members.


MFi Pro also provided two large 70” Sharp LED confidence monitors just in front of the stage. This provided the Board with the ability to reference agenda items, read proposed articles, and other pertinent meeting content.


The event was extremely well organized. When members of the general public came up to address questions or concerns, a number of prepositioned monitors were there to guide them with the goal of maintaining distancing protocols. A series of “one way” routes had been established – similar to what we’ve seen in supermarkets and grocery stores.


This event generated a significant amount of Media interest based on the Town’s unique innovation and approach. A Press area was set up stage right behind one of our Nexo GEO S12 arrays. Throughout the meeting, news helicopters circled above and photographers roamed; digitally capturing the event from a number of different vantage points.


CONCLUSION


Moderator Di Salvo hailed the event a great success, stating that “no moderator has been blessed with a more skilled and diligent team”. He praised all of the support elements for their contribution, patience, and willingness to aid their wonderful community. MFi Pro is appreciative that the Town of North Andover had every confidence in our ability to provide large-scale audio and video support, ultimately contributing to the event’s overall success.


We can deliver the same results for you. Contact MFi Pro today so we can discuss how best to assist with your socially distanced event.

CONTRIBUTOR LINKS:


Town of North Andover: https://www.northandoverma.gov/


NEXO: https://www.nexo-sa.com/systems/geo-s12/


Yamaha: https://usa.yamaha.com/products/proaudio/speakers/dxr/index.html


Electro Voice (EV): https://products.electrovoice.com/na/en/pc-desktop/


Wicked Local, North of Boston: https://northofboston.wickedlocal.com/photogallery/WL/20200616/PHOTOGALLERY/616009985/PH/1


WBZ 4, CBS Boston: https://boston.cbslocal.com/2020/06/17/north-andover-town-meeting-high-school-football-field-massachusetts/

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