From humble beginnings as a café showcase for Dutch acts, in 14 years Vrienden van Amstel Live has grown in size, with the 2012 event encompassing seven sold out nights at Rotterdam’s 10,000 seat Ahoy Arena.
Such were the technical demands that it required four DiGiCo SD7 consoles and seven of the latest SD racks to manage the audio, with all equipment supplied by Ampco Flashlight Rental.
The televised show included 17 top Dutch bands playing across three stages, set up as main A and C stages at each end of the Ahoy’s arena, which featured a moving PA and an invisible PA respectively, with a connecting B stage in the middle. The highlight of each night was a Battle of the Bands, which saw the acts playing opposite each other on the A and C stages, with their singers walking along the central catwalk, each facing the other band via the B stage.
Such a set up meant ensuring the singers had access to their in-ear monitor mixes at any point along the length of the arena floor, a challenge for the show’s sound designer Jeroen ten Brinke, coupled with all bands playing for around 15 minutes, with no stoppage for changeovers.
ten Brinke solved these challenges by running the show with four DiGiCo SD7s - one mixing front of house and one monitors on stage A, with the setup repeated for stage C. The use of an Optocore 2 loop, made it possible to send complete mixes from stage A’s monitor SD7 to stage C’s (and vice versa) via virtual input racks. A fifth DiGiCo console - an SD11 - was used for presentations and audio playback of video clips.
Four 56/24 SD Racks were used for front of house and monitors on stages A and B, two on stage C and a single SD Rack for inserts for both house SD7s. This was possible thanks to DiGiCo’s new software feature, allowing user selection of card routing to the work surface, enabling one rack to be used for two consoles simultaneously.
Another new feature used for the show was the SD Racks running at 96kHz. “By running at 96kHz and eliminating intermediate analog conversion, people commented that it sounded like a blanket had been taken off the PA,” says Dieter van Denzel of Ampco Flashlight, who provided the show’s audio equipment.
“We used Dante with Dolby Lakes to distribute to the amp racks, which were situated in different positions around the arena,” adds ten Brinke. “This allowed us to stay fully digital on 96 kHz and this, in combination with the new SD Racks, helped us to get close to an analog feel.”
Mixed by Jeroen Bas, Ronald Koster and Remco Verhoek at FOH, Merijn Mols and Bennie Veenstra on monitors and assisted by ten Brinke’s assistant and DiGiCo specialist Sydney van Gastel, Vrienden van Amstel Live was the ideal test for a complex system using DiGiCo’s new SD Racks, one that they passed with ease with Optocore 2