There was a new air of enthusiasm in the air at this year's Penang Island Jazz Festival, brought about in part by the contribution to better sound quality provided by the first appearance of an Axiom line array as the main sound reinforcement system. Featuring local and international artists such as the Kim Oki Band, the James Boyle Trio, Timo Vollebecht-Fly Magic, Joshua Davis, and Marutyri, the festival attracts visitors from around the world to the 285 sq km island known as the Pearl of the Orient, located just off mainland Malaysia.
The main front of house PA system was supplied and set up by local audio / video specialists AV Electronics Marketing Sdn Bhd, who have been a regular equipment supplier and official audio sponsor to the festival for many years. The system was configured as a standard left / right setup of six AX2010A powered dual 10" line array elements flown each side based on an EASE simulation designed to cover the required length of throw, and protected by rain covers in case of unexpected showers. In order to achieve even low frequency coverage throughout the venue, a centre subwoofer array was assembled in a cardioid configuration.
"Axiom's technical speciality is the transmission line back loading technique," explained AVEM's Production Application Engineer, Eric Chee Sai Hoo. "It behaves like a passive cardioid response, which means that there is a cancellation of low-mid frequencies on the stage, and this is a unique feature of the Axiom line array. This benefits not only the audience but also the musicians. who can can hear their own monitor systems clearly without interference from the front of house, and so you avoid a lot of the problem feedback frequencies which make things complicated for the on-stage mixing."
Jim Teh was the chief FOH sound engineer and is very familiar with the logistics and potential issues with sound reinforcement at the festival. "For jazz I prefer a sound system that is an all-rounder since the music doesn't have to be loud – it's more about subtlety and dynamics," he explained. "For this particular gig the Axiom line array is working really nicely, it's easy to get the sound you want quickly and you don't have to work hard to achieve it. Yesterday we had no issues with setting up, just a little EQ here and there and that's it. I do like the overall sound of the Axiom system."
Nik A. Azmi from World Youth Festivals Management has been coming to Penang Island for many years, and was impressed with the sound quality both on stage and in the audience. "This year is the best sound I've ever heard at the Jazz Festival. It's got clarity, the right balance, great dynamics, and the mixing is good. It's very clear, very soft – and yet you can hear the kick in it – and that is what jazz is all about. So I guess you’ve done a good job guys!"