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The Drop, The Smack: Mondo Low End For The Ultra Music Festival
"Let’s see how good it is – bring it out to Ultra.”
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Klipsch Amphitheatre

Reopened in 2009 after a comprehensive renovation, the Klipsch serves as the “live stage,” with Beach Sound also tapped here to provide the system, and one capable of wider-than-usual horizontal coverage.

“Now (since the renovation) they have a proper roof and rigging structure there, so that makes things easier, but there’s a ditch in front of the performance area, and if you put subs in there they should on pieces of scaffolding – or anything – to lift them in the air,” McNeil says.

“There’s also a built-in delay arc, but it doesn’t work for the audience, so additional delay has to be applied to the outsides of the array or it loads up in the middle and you have no bass on the sides. What we needed was 140 degrees of coverage out of both the subs and the main PA.”

The main system incorporated 24 d&b J12s, 30 B2 subs (dual-18, horn design), 12 Q1s and 7 Q10s as out fills and front fills, respectively. “It’s a long line of subs, but still, delay compensation is needed on the sides,” Fowler explains. “Also, it’s a little unusual to build an entire array out of J12s – normally that’s the down fill box – but we went with the J12s because we needed such wide coverage.

“The subwoofer alignment ended up taking more work than we expected because we had to experiment with delay times on the subs because of the combination of the physical arc and the electronic arc. We also spent a lot of time on the Q1 out fills and, in fact, lowered them by six feet even though the model predicted the higher position would be fine.”

System techs Matt Holden (left) and Neil Rosenstock atop two of the location’s 24 d&b J-SUBS. (click to enlarge)

Prediction software can only do so much, McNeil adds. “I was down in the first 15 rows at the outer edge of the amphitheatre and it was like, ‘Man, I don’t hear anything – what’s going on?’ Then I went up top and there’s all this sound where they’re selling the hot dogs. I went back and was standing in the 10th row at extreme stage left when they lowered them, and that whole section opened up. There are times when people rely on predictions and leave it. We’ll start out with the prediction software, but after that, it’s trial and error. We’re going to walk it and see if we like it.”

Carl Cox Mega Structure

In this 10,000-capacity venue, which featured DJ performances exclusively, Advanced Audio of Orlando supplied mains that were comprised of 24 D.A.S. Audio Aero 50 line array boxes (a dozen per side) and driven by 12 Lab.gruppen FP 10000Q 4-channel amplifiers, as well as 39 LX218C dual-18 subs powered by 10 D.A.S. Audio D-100 4-channel amps, six Aero 8a compact, self-powered line array modules for front fill, and Aero 12a self-powered arrays on delay to extend coverage.

Physical changes to the venue, in addition to the new D-100 amps driving the LX218 subs, helped improve the sound in this venue substantially. “Last year it was good, but when the people got in there it just needed more bass,” McNeil explains. “The structure this year was the same size, but the roof was higher, so we were able to fly the line array a little higher, and the new amps also made a huge difference.”

D.A.S. LX218C subs at the Carl Cox Stage. (click to enlarge)

Like the character his nickname is based on, McNeil’s not afraid to take risks to get the result he wants at times. “My plan, from the start, was to bring in new equipment. One year, D.A.S. loudspeakers handled the Bayfront Stage. It was the first year we used the LX218 subs, and they came straight from the port of Miami to the show. A lot of people say, ‘You’re crazy for doing that’, but my thing is, if you’re a manufacturer, and you’re boasting about your product, let’s see how good it is – bring it out to Ultra.”

Measurement Rig

As the festival has evolved, so has Doug Fowler’s measurement rig. It starts with a Lenovo T500 notebook computer and a Linksys WRT54G wireless router. As a long-time user of EASERA SysTune, he deployed a beta version of SysTune v1.2 at Ultra, which includes a new Delay Analysis module, in addition to offering delay suggestions for alignment purposes. (SysTune v1.2 is now available—find out more about it here.)

“It’s also configurable regarding frequency range for the alignment and frequency center, and virtually eliminates using phase interpretation to perform alignments, although the phase response of the two components being aligned may be displayed, if desired,” Fowler adds.

SysTune’s web interface allows it to be controlled remotely via Ethernet/TCP using any mobile device running a supported browser – no interface application required. “I used an iPad 3 with great success. You just put SysTune in web server mode, enter the IP address of the SysTune computer into the mobile browser, and that’s it.” (The full release of v1.2 was expected to be available May 1.)

His Aubion x.8 audio interface uses Ethernet for both audio and control. With the Windows Bonjour service, it’s a zero-configuration process to connect it. Four microphone preamps are included, as well as line inputs. A DB25 cable expands the unit to 8-channel operation. Additionally, internal loopback to SysTune for the reference signal is supported, which frees up an input channel since no external loopback reference is required.

Mics include a Josephson C550H and three RTA 420s, with two Line 6 XD-V70L lavalier beltpacks and receivers, and a pair of Countryman phantom power supplies letting him go wireless. “The range with the included antennas is sufficient for most events, but I also carry two microphone cables – one that’s 50 feet, the other 100 feet,”  he says.

Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.

Source: Live Sound International

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