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Noise Control: Dialing In California’s KAABOO Festival

A discussion on addressing challenges involved in community noise issues at large outdoor music events and insights on the strategies they employed.

By Live Sound Staff September 18, 2018

MGM Resorts Grandview Stage 2018 KAABOO festival. (Credit: Debi Del Grande)


Aaron Davis has managed audio departments for numerous production vendors and institutions since 2004, focusing on audio system design & deployment. A graduate of the Audio Arts & Acoustics program, Columbia College Chicago, he returned in 2013 as co-designer and instructor of a senior-level audio system design, deployment, and optimization course: Loudspeaker System Applications. Currently Director of Audio at ECTO Productions, Aaron also regularly performs production management and audio mixing duties for touring music acts and corporate and political events.

As festival audio designer for KAABOO, Davis is responsible for creating RFP documents with initial design parameters, assisting production management concerning audio vendor choices, and evaluating the chosen vendor’s audio system proposals based on the event’s parameters. On show site, he leads SPL limit communication to artist production teams and audio vendor deployment verification, overseeing any necessary changes as informed by the event’s audio goals.

(Top L-R) Richard Randall (production manager, KAABOO), Aaron Davis (festival audio designer, ECTO Productions), Alex Sostarich (CEO, ECTO Productions), Patrice Lavoie (audio project manager, Solotech), Alexandre Bibeau (system tech, Solotech), Etienne Lapre (system tech, Solotech). (Bottom L-R) Pantelis Vassilakis, Ph.D. (concert noise specialist,, Christopher Ericson (director of Design & Production, ECTO Productions) (Credit: Debi Del Grande)

Patrice Lavoie holds several certifications, including in audio arts (Recording Art Canada College), project management (ÉTS University), sound system design and optimization and System II operator (Meyer), and K Systems engineer (L-Acoustics). At Solotech for almost 20 years, he is currently project manager and technical advisor of its audio department.

At KAABOO, Lavoie collaborates with Aaron Davis on sound system design specs for all major outdoor and indoor stages, assigns tech teams per stage and manages communications, leads design implementation and system tuning, and oversees quality control for all Solotech operations and services at the festival.

Scott Sugden is head of application, Touring – North America at L-Acoustics. In this role, he ensures the success and growth of L-Acoustics in North America, providing design and show support to the world’s biggest live projects, from corporate and special events to tours and renowned festivals. Scott works closely with L-Acoustics certified engineers and the L-Acoustics partner network, offering his industry-recognized systems engineering skills to ensure that wherever L-Acoustics sound systems are used, the teams that pilot them are getting the best of their system and contributing to a successful event.

Scott is a familiar face in the industry, having toured with the Steve Miller Band and Van Halen and mixing on the first national tours of theatrical productions The Producers, Spamalot and 700 Sundays. He’s also designed the sound systems of top grossing music festivals Milwaukee’s Summerfest, ACL, and Coachella as well as the permanent installation at the renowned Hollywood Bowl. At KAABOO, he partners with Aaron Davis to optimize L-Acoustics system design and configuration leading up to the festival and provides on-site support throughout the festival.

Pantelis Vassilakis holds a post-doctoral certificate in auditory science and Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in music cognition, acoustics, and aesthetics from UCLA. He also holds a B.A. degree in music composition and technology from Kingston University, Surrey, UK, and has completed extensive course credits in electrical engineering at the National Polytechnic of Athens, Greece. A long-standing educator, highly-cited researcher, award-winning composer, and interest-based negotiation advocate, he currently leads AcousticsLab, specializing in audio arts & acoustics education, research, and practice and consulting on acoustics and sound perception for arts and entertainment events.

At KAABOO, Dr. Vassilakis consults on noise mitigation planning and implementation, leads noise measurement and noise ordinance compliance assessment and reporting, and is the festival’s acoustical spokesperson to venue, community, and city council representatives.

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