Despite its ever-growing popularity, the festival remains determined to maintain the special intimacy that’s made it what it is today, so during each band’s set, the audience is always extremely quiet and respectful, listening intently to every note sung and played. This means a clear on-stage sound is absolutely imperative, and this year, to help provide true clarity, a number of NEXO’s 45°N-12 monitors were deployed for the main stage.
“These NEXO monitors have such a clean sound, and the 12-inch driver is really, really responsive,” insists festival site manager, George Breacker. “It also provides an excellent tonal quality, and it’s proven to be the best box to use for this type of music and this type of event.”
The 45°N-12’s inclusion in the festival was ultimately down to Seamus Fenton, monitor engineer for the main stage for more than 12 of these events. SSE/Canegreen’s Yan Stile suggested that Fenton try them out whilst working on a recent Frankie Valli show at the Royal Albert Hall, and he soon realised he’d finally found what he’d been looking for: the perfect Cambridge wedge.
“I first became acquainted with these wedges at PLASA a couple of years ago, and they seemed very impressive,” Fenton explains. “But I only heard them in action for the first time at Frankie Valli’s Royal Albert Hall show, and I immediately knew that I was onto something; they sounded absolutely superb, and they were just so versatile, so I knew I had to have them at Cambridge.
Fenton says that because of the type of act that comes through at Cambridge Folk Festival, many of the instruments are very delicate and acoustic, and changeovers are also very fast. The fact that the 45°N-12 is lightweight, portable, and boasts a 12-inch driver, means that any potential problems have now been eliminated, he reveals.
“Although I have tried a 12-inch [at Cambridge] before, it was too heavy and cumbersome for this type of event, and it just didn’t work out – but I’ve always wanted a 12-inch option, and I have found these 45°N-12 s to be absolutely vocal-tastic!” he enthuses. “One really crucial thing you have to deal with at Cambridge is what I call ‘the folk arc’, which is when all the folk musicians come in and sit in their chairs in an arc and say: ‘there you go, we’re ready; oh, and we’ll just share a monitor’. That’s when I’ll say: ‘er, no you won’t!’ But normally I then have to work out how I get 18 mixes or whatever it might be, divided between those six chairs!
“However, using the 45°N-12 s, I was able to easily do a group of three between the lot of them, and they were able to move in and out of it, and it worked perfectly; no problems at all.”
By his own admittance, Fenton began to ‘get cocky’ when he realised the true potential of the wedges, and went into experimental mode.
“On day one I just went for individual wedges, and on day two I decided to do a pair in the middle; one thing I did discover is that you can’t share one – you need two,” he says. “So all weekend I was experimenting and this culminated in me creating ‘the doughnut of doom’ on the Sunday: a complete circle of them!
“It was spoiled a bit by the piano tuner, so we never did it in anger as such, but it was an absolutely amazing thing; and at no point as you moved around did you hear any phase movement at all. That was very impressive.”
Fenton says all of the visiting engineers were also really keen on the 45°N-12s, and even some of the artists made a comment or two.
“Charlie from The Proclaimers actually said it was the best vocal sound he’d ever had – and that was just a straight pair L/R, nothing linked or anything,” he says. “Seth Lakeman’s engineer was also really impressed, and another of the guest engineers, Ant Standring, really loved them because of how lightweight they were – he was the guy moving my wedges for me, and he was a big fan of the nylon runners that make them slide about very easily.”
The Proclaimers were the loudest of the acts, and Fenton said there was more than enough headroom available. In fact, he was impressed enough to pencil in some 45°N-12 s on the rider for the upcoming Jesus Christ Superstar tour that he will be working on [for SSE/Canegreen] in September and October.
“For this kind of show they are incredibly versatile,” he says. “I need some wedges for the Jesus Christ Superstar tour, and where my rider once said: ‘two [d&b] M2s’, it now says: ‘four 45°N-12s’, as I can now do four mixes, or a clump of three, or basically any configuration I like. All in all, I’m quite a fan, I have to say!”