Setting a new all-time attendance record for the venue, more than 58,000 admirers streamed into Stockholm’s vast Friends Arena on December 5th for the Avicii Tribute Concert, a celebration of the life and work of beloved DJ and producer Tim Bergling — known professionally as Avicii. The evening’s stellar lineup included 20 collaborators and peers, including vocalists Rita Ora, Aloe Blacc, Adam Lambert and Dan Tyminski along with DJ sets from David Guetta, Kygo, Laidback Luke, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Nicky Romero.
The event entailed numerous challenges for audio production, including visual profile limitations due to the live YouTube streaming, noise level restrictions, the sheer volume of the indoor stadium, and a combination of acoustic dampening and reflective surfaces that had bedeviled previous concerts. Further complicating matters was a program blending a 30-piece orchestra with bass-heavy EDM tracks.
Heading the team assigned to this task were production manager Daniel Hellsten, audio systems tech Anton Söderberg, and system designer Theis Romme of Meyer Sound European Technical Support.
“It’s quite a difficult arena since it’s so huge and there is a lot of dampening,” notes Söderberg, “so it takes a lot of effort from the loudspeaker system to deliver the power and the clarity that we need. But with the Meyer Sound LEO Family system we achieved results that exceeded my expectations.”
The combination of long throw distances, 270-degree seating and strict noise limits required a distributed approach with multiple delay systems, according to Romme. “The distance from stage to rear topmost seats is about 150 meters and 30 meters high, so we configured the system with delays for both the main front and the out arrays. The coverage turned out to be excellent, with smooth transitions between arrays thanks to the common LEO Family characteristics and great work by Anton.”
Teamwork was the key, according to Hellsten: “We had tremendous support from Meyer Sound. The close collaboration between Meyer Sound and the Bright Group was fundamental to the success of this project.”
The system’s main front arrays each comprised 16 LEO-M loudspeakers over two LYON-W wide coverage loudspeakers, with dual out arrays each configured with 16 LEO-M, four LYON-M and two LYON-W loudspeakers. The front fill system deployed 12 LEOPARD loudspeakers while the 270-degree far out fills were each 22 LEOPARD loudspeakers. Full range delay arrays, flown at seven hang points, comprised a total of 104 LYON-M and 20 LYON-W loudspeakers and 18 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements.
For uniform bass throughout the venue, Romme laid a foundation with dual end-fire arrays of 9-each 1100-LFC low frequency control elements augmented by 18 1100-LFC elements at center. Another 12 1100-LFC elements were flown in cardioid arrays on each side. System optimization and drive was supplied by 16 GALAXY 816 and three GALAXY 816-AES3 processors linked via an AVB network running the new Milan protocol. All loudspeaker inventory was drawn from Bright Group’s operations in Sweden and Norway.
“The coverage is very smooth with uniform transition between arrays,” observes Söderberg. “The LEO loudspeakers have the throw so we can push the first layer over downstage a bit more, and coverage with the LEOPARD arrays is just excellent. We also have LEOPARDs as front fills, so the transition from the mains was easy to achieve. Overall, the coverage is above my expectations. The clarity at the top row seats is great.”
As for the AVB network and Milan protocol, there wasn’t much to say, according to Söderberg. “It’s been rock solid,” he says. “Everything pops up on the screen and works like it’s supposed to.”
After the guest DJs finished the opening section of the concert, the YouTube live stream launched for the live performance part of the show. Mixing the band, orchestra and parade of dynamic vocalists was Wayne Sargeant, who came on board as Avicii’s front of house mixer in 2014 with the tour supporting the multi-platinum True album. Sergeant was tasked with corralling 128 inputs for the parade of vocalists and shifting instrumental combinations. In the end, he was delighted with the outcome.
“The performance of the system was quite, quite surprising,” he says. “It’s an incredibly difficult venue, so I thought overall the Meyer Sound system performed remarkably well. Of course with the orchestra on stage I was concerned about bass spill, but flying the cardioid sub arrays and putting more cardioid subs out with the delays really pushed the whole show evenly into the back of the room. It was really great having more delays than you can shake a stick at because when you have a noise restriction of around 97 dB, you want a distributed system that takes over from the mains. And it worked. We had buckets of headroom, and the intelligibility was fantastic in a room that’s really tough.”
The success of the show was particularly gratifying to Hellsten in light of the underlying purpose of the event, as both a tribute to the artist and a fundraiser for a foundation established by the Bergling family to support mental health research and treatment.
“I really want to emphasize that we’re doing this for Tim,” he says. “We’re all in this together. We have 300 people working on the production team and I haven’t heard one complaint. Everybody knows why we are doing this, and everybody is working hard and doing an amazing job.”
For Fredric Holmgren, CEO of Bright Rental Sweden, the event was more than another assignment for his company. “We have many of our technicians who have worked either directly with Avicii or his production staff, so a lot of them are doing this from their hearts,” he says.
Stockholm native Tim Bergling (Avicii) achieved global success as an electronic musician, songwriter, producer and remixer. He is credited among the few artists who brought electronic music into widespread popularity in the early 2010’s. Battling stress and deteriorating mental health, he took his life in April 2018.