In a high-profile international application of JBL touring systems this summer, rental sound company Touring Services supplied an expansive audio system for the Global Gathering Freedom Festival at the Borovaya Airfield in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus in northern Europe. The system included products from JBL's VERTEC® DP Series and HLA Series loudspeaker lines.
Major internationally known DJs were featured, including Axwell, Steve Angello, Dubfire, Sebastien Leger, D. Ramirez, Menno De Jong, Micky Slim, Paul Thomas, and Eston. World-renowned performance artist D.J. Tiesto was the headline act on the festival. Touring Services, a division of ART Studio Pro, was the rental sound company responsible for audio production at the event, with Vladimir Klimenko in charge as the chief system engineer.
Due to the airfield location of the event, a very large crowd could be accommodated. Event organizers had originally planned for 15,000 people but were reportedly surprised when total pre-event ticket sales reached 36,000. Final onsite attendance was estimated at 50,000 persons.
This year's event included two main stages and a third, separate foam dance floor. Assembly of the stages and other support fixtures started on the afternoon of June 24 and by the morning of June 27 the site construction was fully completed. Sound checks were scheduled on event day, June 27, from 10 AM to 2 PM. The gates opened at 6 PM and non-stop music lasted until the early morning hours.
The Freedom Stage featured JBL VERTEC DP Series arrays, suspended from construction cranes. A total of 24 VT4888DP-AN midsize powered line array elements, equipped with JBL DrivePackâ„¢ technology, were supported by 12 VT4880A full-size arrayable subwoofers driven by Crown I-Tech 8000 amplifiers. “It's a real pleasure to work with JBL's VERTEC DP systems,” noted Roman Klimenko, sound engineer in charge of the Freedom Stage. “We recently updated the entire system with JBL's new V4 DSP presets. Everything is simple, loud and clear. Plus, Harman's HiQnetâ„¢ is truly amazing. Any configuration that we had to do was accomplished within the networked JBL DrivePack units, quickly and easily.”
The Global Stage was served by a JBL HLA system, with 24 4895 full-range elements and 12 4897A bass modules driven with BSS 366 OmniDrive signal processing and Crown MA-5000 series amplifiers.
The Touring Services sound crew had several challenges to meet, including the co-location of two different competing stages, and proximity of the crowd to the loudspeakers at the Freedom Stage site. “The task was to set up the two sound systems so as not to interfere each other. For this, we calculated appropriate signal delay settings, using Harman's HiQnet System Architectâ„¢ software for aligning signals in the Crown I-Tech amplifiers for both stages,” noted Vladimir Klimenko. “At the Freedom Stage, our task was to provide a comfortable listening zone for the front audience areas, and a very loud, high-quality sound for the back rows. For this we first calculated all the array settings and site characteristics using JBL's Line Array Calculator software and we were able to achieve a nearly flat frequency response for distances from directly below the loudspeaker arrays, out to 115 meters [377 feet].”
Due to the high quality and specific character of the recorded sound material, with tracks that were well-balanced and highly compressed for maximum dance-music impact, the Touring Services crew found that they were able to give the DJ's and visiting engineers what Vladimir Klimenko called “99.99 percent” of the total SPL capabilities of the systems, without the need to have additional, significant headroom. “The systems were operated hard like this for 12 hours straight without any problems”, he confirmed. “All in all, we were proud to be involved in such a large, significant event as the Global Gathering Freedom Festival. It was a good test for our equipment and for our personnel's skills. And I can declare with conviction that both the equipment and our staff coped with all the challenges, achieving a great success,” vouched Vladimir Klimenko. “We wanted to make the earth tremble at this festival, and we did. VERTEC was up to the mark as it always is. The audience and performers were delighted with the high quality and sheer loudness of the sound produced by our JBL systems. What can I say? It creates a sort of magic, the magic of JBL's sound system technology.”
For more information on Touring Services in Belarus, see www.artstudiopro.com