Placebo and the AiRAY Effect...
Updated: Sep 29
It’s not too far to Nottingham from Sound Marketing HQ but it’s still an early start for scribe-in-residence, John...
It’s not too far to Nottingham from Sound Marketing HQ but it’s still an early start for scribe-in-residence, John. Arena tours run like clockwork and if you want to catch the important action, you need to be there bright and early. Yes, internationally acclaimed rockers Placebo are playing and no, they won’t be on stage until 9pm; yes there will be a chance to catch the show and no, it won’t be a hardship to stay for that but the main reason for today’s sojourn to the East Midlands is to take a close look and a thorough listen to CODA Audio’s flagship sound system - today is AiRAY day and John will be waiting outside the loading bay at The Motorpoint Arena at 9am as the speakers roll in off the trucks...
German loudspeaker manufacturer CODA Audio has been a client of Sound Marketing since 2015 and has risen rapidly through the ranks to become a global leader in live and installed audio technology. Sound Marketing works closely with its international directors, supporting their strategy and helping to carry the CODA message into every corner of the market. CODA Audio’s new compact, high quality and very powerful AiRAY system is forging a revolution in touring live sound and whilst it is entirely possible to read the spec sheets and take the word of experienced professionals, John is keen to see and hear for himself.
“I’ve spent the last 36 years in bands and when I started out, I also worked as road crew for a PA company, so I’ve got more than a passing acquaintance with this side of the industry. Whilst the band I’ve been in for the last 28 years is an independent outfit, we’ve played over a thousand shows, recorded 14 albums and undertaken a number of support tours with bigger names, so when it comes to PA systems, I’ve heard and used a few. I’d already done some promo stuff for the AiRAY but I’m of the firm belief that experiencing the technology in the flesh will better inform my writing. Without that connection, it’s a bit like showing a travel journalist a holiday brochure or reading someone’s postcards - you can pass on the info but you need to really ‘feel’ it to represent it best.”
By 10am John is out front in the Motorpoint, hard hat on, watching the AiRAY hangs being hoisted aloft. In the company of system tech, George Puttock (an old friend) he’s able to ask questions and gain insights simply not available from spec sheet. The size of the boxes in the flesh is striking, not because they dominate the void at the front of the arena - in fact, quite the opposite - the first thought is as to whether boxes that small can possibly fill this arena with CODA’s much vaunted power and quality. Not much later, unequivocally, the answer is delivered in the affirmative. George accompanies John from the FOH desk to the highest, widest points in the arena and the consistency of the sound is stunning.
John is impressed:
“When Placebo FOH engineer Ian Nelson fires things up, you know straight away that this is going to be different class. It’s mind blowing and the guys operating it for rental company Adlib aren’t afraid to say that it’s top drawer. There’s no way you’d believe the hype unless you’d heard the system and seen how user friendly it is in every aspect of an arena tour. Getting the lowdown from someone like George or Ian is invaluable. You can see how impressed they are with AiRAY and it’s something I’ll take away with me back to my desk...”
When showtime comes the arena is packed and the AiRAY system delivers an astonishing level of power and clarity. Placebo rip through a 20 year retrospective of their greatest work to fanatical acclaim. After a spell getting an engineers-ear listen from the mixing desk, the watch is checked, farewells made and mid-show, John heads back home having learned a lot and enjoyed the experience. At his desk the next day, there is no effort involved in writing a piece for the press about this unique and game-changing piece of kit. The story is used. Placebo are on the front cover.
Managing Director Steph Dell is keen that her team witness as many real-life applications of the technologies they represent:
“Whether it’s a PA in action or a house-lighting scheme or even a DSP set-up in a teaching laboratory, I think it’s essential that we go along and experience the enhancements that our clients are trying to bring to the market. You’ve got to keep that connection strong and not lose sight of the excitement and benefits that these technologies deliver on the ground. Seeing them in action is very much part of helping us to deliver the message with a real integrity and what is a heartfelt and genuine enthusiasm.”