For the 23rd consecutive year, a crowd reportedly in excess of 750,000 packed Rome’s Piazza San Giovanni for the traditional 1st May concert, amplified for the first time in fifteen years by an Italian sound reinforcement system: Outline’s GTO.
For the event’s producer, Anyway srl, Rome’s Limelite provided audio, lighting, video and the huge set for the eight-hour event, aired live by state broadcaster Rai.
On either side of the set, the main system comprised fifteen GTO hung below three GTO-LOW, plus an array of eight GTO-SUBs alongside.
On the ground in front of the stage, twelve Lab 21 HS infra-sub enclosures were topped by six Butterfly enclosures to ensure concert early birds coverage.
The furthest reaches of the huge crowd were catered for by three delay systems: one consisting in twelve Butterfly and six Subtech 218 subs in cardioid configuration and the other two eight Butterfly and four subs, with one of them also featuring an array of six Mantas enclosures, further extending coverage with their 120-degree dispersion.
For those of the large cast of indie artists who brought their own sound engineers, babysitting at the FOH desks for the three band platforms were Massimo Barbieri, Davide Lombardi (also the audio rig’s system engineer) and Andrea Taglia, all of whom gave their views on the results achieved sound-wise.
Mixing for the first time at the event, Taglia is more accustomed to more “refined” music, as he is regular FOH engineer with world-famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, and in fact handled sound for the platform hosting the 60-strong Roma Sinfonietta, the orchestra that accompanies soundtrack divo Ennio Morricone on tour and at the May Day event backed some of the artists performing rock classics, re-arranged for the occasion by Mauro Pagani.
Nevertheless, Taglia, who also hosts courses on live sound engineering, not only appreciated the quality of the mid-range frequencies and precision of the high-end of the system, but was “amazed” by GTO’s definition and power over long distances, adding, “Even after a full day’s operation, the rig retained its good definition and projection, and the sub woofers ensured the hard-hitting headliners an incredibly beefy punch!”.
Praising Lombardi’s work on installation and fine-tuning, Barbieri also stressed GTO’s suitability for reinforcing a wide range of genres, opining, “The Sinfonietta’s acoustic instruments came over loud and clear, but smoothly, while the bands (which included Stomp and Caparezza, with his fusion of alternative rap and reggae) enabled the system to unleash all its power, including a great bottom end”.
In spite of the dimensions of the system and the crowd, Lombardi had very limited time at his disposal for set-up, EQ and tuning, so was particularly impressed with the fact that it was - fortunately - an uncomplicated, almost ‘plug & play’ task, adding at the end of the event, after mixing Caparezza.
“I was astonished by the full-bodied clean bottom end and the fact that, over the whole frequency range, the sound was very ‘up-front’ - even at more than 100 metres from the stage,” he explained.
After the event, Outline’s Michele Noselli enthused, “I’ve read that the Rome May Day concert is the largest music event in Europe, so I there couldn’t have been a better showcase for a large-format PA demo:
something FOH engineers, rental companies and industry opinion leaders had requested for some time.
“I appreciated the fact that these professionals from Italy and abroad - above and beyond the mere SPL or other parameters that would have been insignificant if considered on their own - concentrated on GTO’s ability to project high level, very coherent sound over long distances and, more generally speaking, on the system’s acoustic architecture: on ‘how’ ten large-diameter loudspeakers can be used in such an effective manner.”