Funktion-One's Vero VX Helps Take Belfast’s AVA Festival to the Next Level

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“Across 10 years of the festival, we’ve continued to adopt a system designed with electronic music in mind and a company whose ideology sits side by side with AVA,” says AVA Founder & Creative Director, Sarah McBriar. “That’s why Funktion-One has been AVA’s chosen system from day dot.”

From cutting edge DJs and producers and the raucous energy of its ravers to pristine, state-of-the-art audio, Belfast’s AVA (Audio Visual Arts) Festival has built itself a reputation as an essential event in the electronic music calendar. Funktion-One has been delighted to play a role in its success thanks to Hertz-U Soundsystem, who once again deployed Funktion-One systems on all four stages this year, including Vero VX on the main stage.

[Photos: AVA Festival / The Hype Factory]

This year’s larger festival treated the bumper 12,000 capacity to a diverse main stage programme with more live acts then ever before. Staying true to its electronic roots with artists like Overmono and Eliza Rose, the event has expanded its musical remit to give a platform to Irish hip hop, R&B and UK grime talent with artists including Central Cee, Kojaque and Biig Piig all performing. 

“This was something we didn’t just want to ‘tap into’, but elevate, to bring something new, exciting and fresh to our audience,” says AVA Production Lead David McDonogh. “This approach added to the experience, not disrupting our electronic roots and core, but elevating new sounds and experiences for our audience. Our aim is always to push the boundaries.”

Since launching in 2014 as a one day event, AVA Festival has become a byword for innovation and a beacon for the musical joy that can be shared between artists and their audiences.

The aim of the event is to celebrate music, audio visual arts and culture with a focus on local talent, as well as bringing international artists to perform in Belfast. Taking place on Titanic Slipways in the Titanic Quarter, AVA occurs within what is billed as Northern Ireland's biggest regeneration project, as the city reinvents itself as a cultural hub. Alongside artists such as Bicep and David Holmes, and clubs including Ulster Sports Club and Banana Block, AVA is an important ingredient in a new cultural cocktail shaking up perceptions of Belfast. 

“As we evolve as a festival, and grow year on year, so too does our audience, and the sounds and genres that surround our programming core,” says AVA’s Senior Marketing & Partnerships Manager Conor McTernan on AVA’s development. “Our primary efforts are to showcase the best in international and homegrown electronic talent, followed by pushing things forward with new sounds in Belfast.” 

The four-stage, open-air festival is a leading example of some of the best festival sound in Europe. “These results are down to the incredible efforts put in by our hard-working team and all of our partners including Hertz-U, Third Source, Visual Spectrum and PSI,” says McDonogh. 

Funktion-One has been AVA’s chosen sound system from the outset. This year, the main stage, Nomadic stage (home to the iconic Boiler Room broadcasts), new Pumphouse stage, and local talent platform the Grasses, featured various combinations of Vero VXF124, and Evolution range monitors. 

Hertz-U Soundsystem founder Collie Doyle works closely with the AVA technical team to ensure the sound design is right for each stage. “Collie and crew have become family and an integral part of the AVA Team,” McDonogh explains. “Each year the communication process is refined, and with a decade of working together it is now a seamless operation. The brief is simple - ensuring the best sound while working around stage design, video and lights; although sound always takes priority for us.”

The sound for each stage is designed for the maximum capacity, with great attention given to the location of each stage and stack orientation. This is to ensure as little bleed from each area, while delivering exceptional audio quality to the audience areas. 

“We had been pressured by some of the international touring acts to provide systems they were used to, but as a festival we were adamant to keep Funktion-One sound across each stage,” says McDonogh. “It was at this juncture that we discussed using the Vero VX array with Collie. We road tested it last year with incredible results; super dynamic, outstanding clarity, full and punchy sound across anything that was thrown at it.”

“The beauty of Vero VX is having that level of control, directing the sound to exactly where it needs to be,” says McDonogh on the deployment of the system. “With two years of VX experience on our main stage, I can’t see us ever using anything else.”

With plans developing for 2024, a new Belfast festival site design is expected to be unveiled, while further expansions are in play for London too. AVA Festival turns 10, so expect something extra special. Sign up for updates here.

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