- by Frank Hammel
RICHMOND, VA — The Richmond Folk Festival celebrates traditional music, with artists from around the world performing on seven stages spread across 17 acres of riverside parkland in downtown Richmond. The free three-day event drew some 200,000, with audio production handled by Soundworks, a full-service audio company headed by Steve Payne.
“We specialize in events like this, so being selected by Venture Richmond and the National Council for Traditional Arts to supply the audio was a real honor,” said Payne.
Soundworks installed Turbosound speakers on all seven stages, with Flex Array systems covering the two large outdoor venues and a variety of Aspect, Aspect Wide and TMS systems for the five smaller tented spaces.
Noting that Turbosound speakers are more common in Europe than the U.S., Payne credited the Flex system as “amazingly efficient; the output and musicality are unbelievable for such a small box. On the main stage, we covered up to 10,000 people with just eight per side, and had headroom to spare. I doubt we ever hit the limiters in the three days of the festival.”
Routinely drawing crowds of 8,000 to 10,000, the main stage featured the Turbosound Flex Array system. Twin arrays of eight TFA-600HW 3-way enclosures were supported by four ground-stacked TSW-218 subwoofers per side, all powered and controlled by Turbosound’s new 20000DP amplifiers. Three self-powered TQ-310DP’s served as frontfills.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Flex Array, but these new amplifiers really put it over the top,” said Payne. “They’re 4-channel Lab.gruppen amps with Lake processing, optimized to work with Turbosound speakers. The processing includes FIR filtering, which really smooths everything out and lets the Flex system shine.”
The second stage, which saw audiences of about 5,000 fans, was similarly outfitted, but needed just six Flex TFA-600HW over two TSW-218 subs per side. The two frontfills were TQ-445DP, a 1600-watt self powered, bi-amped 3-way design descended from Turbosound’s classic Floodlight touring system.
The remaining five venues were all in large tents. The largest, featuring more club-oriented acts, utilized the Turbosound Aspect TA-880H, with three per side, over a pair of dual-18 subs. The next smaller tent, housing 600 fans, used the touring wide-dispersion version of the Aspect line, the TA-500t, filling the tent with just two mains per side over a pair of TSW-721 subs, with a single 21-inch driver. The remaining tent stages, with traditional acoustic bluegrass, had Turbosound’s new TMS portable system, a small-footprint design with a mid/high box pole-mounted above a single-18 sub.
Stage monitors for the main stage were Turbosound bi-amped TFM-560’s. All other stages had Soundworks SW2 wedges, a proprietary 15-inch/2-inch design developed by Payne.
Even for a major regional production company, an event like the Richmond Folk Festival puts a definite strain on inventory. Fortunately, Soundworks has a long-term partnership with Southard Audio, which stepped in to supply extra mics, wedges and consoles. “Soundworks and Southard Audio have a long tradition of working together,” said Payne. “They’re located further west in Harrisonburg and are also a big Turbosound user. That allows us to cooperate rather than compete, which has helped both companies over the years.”