3G Productions, Inc. recently provided audio for the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) festivals in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas. Their PA systems included a Martin Audio Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) to provide the power and coverage they needed inside the venue while controlling noise spillage to surrounding residential areas.
In business for nine years, 3G has quickly become a leading force in the rapidly growing world of Electronic Dance Music events, providing audio for numerous large festivals every year. The three-day Electric Daisy Carnival 2013 was the culmination of Insomniac’s EDC festivals with eight of the world’s Top 10 DJs, and more than 200 acts performing on seven stages for over 350,000 attendees at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The combination of several stages producing hours of high SPL dance music in urban locales adds up to unique challenges for 3G. As Marketing Director Keith Conrad points out, “EDC events are really unique because they’re all in large open-air areas that aren’t necessarily traditional venues for concerts such as stadiums or amphitheatres. They’re in parking lots or racetracks, so the ability to control the sound is extremely important. A big reason why we looked at the Martin Audio MLA system was to control SPLs in areas surrounding the venue.
We also need a lot of bass, so the amount of subs we have on any one show is unheard of,” Keith continues. “Plus you’re doing multiple stages within one area at the same time, which is all about the configuration of the stage in terms of the coverage and direction of the loudspeakers.”
3G senior system engineer and designer Julio Valdez, a specialist in EDM events, provides more specifics: “I get site plans before the event for the areas that have to be covered so I can design systems suitable for what the client (Insomniac, who produces EDC and major dance events worldwide) needs, which is mostly to provide a whole lot of power and have the system sound good.
“Then we go to the location and make sure all of the techs have everything they need to complete the build and address the changing needs of DJs, artists and other performers. Sometimes we have to submit designs to DJ management for approval.
“Finally, I lay out the stages so they don’t have too much of an impact in terms of nearby homes. We have people walking around with dB meters before the show determining what’s acceptable at certain distances from the stage and referencing those SPLs at Front of House.”
The typical Martin Audio setup for EDC consists of a main hang of16 MLA and two MLD downfill cabinets per side with a massive complement of 32 MLX subs ground-stacked across the front of the stage. 12 MLA Compacts per side are used for outfill, and 8 MLA Compacts plus 4 ground-stacked MLX subs per side are used for delays. AVID Venue Profile mixing consoles and Lake loudspeaker processing are also part of the setup.
Given that the New York and Chicago EDCs are held at the Citi Field parking lot and the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, respectively, which are smaller and closer to residential areas, were there very different requirements for those two shows than Las Vegas?
“No,” offers Julio. “It really all comes down to getting as much power out to the audience as we can with as little sound out to the neighborhood as possible, which is a constant struggle. And, with that in mind, it’s definitely been helpful to have the kind of control that Martin Audio’s MLA is capable of giving us.
“Power is impressive coming out of the MLA, it’s definitely mind-boggling when you see the size of the rig that’s out there and the output you get from the system. In terms of sound quality, it’s very consistent and, as intended, one can really tailor the sound to what they want and MLA will do it.”
Considering that each stage at EDC features hour-long sets by up to eight DJs a night, do the artists have widely differing requirements in terms of the PA?
“Just like bands, the DJs carry engineers who are responsible for their sound,” says Julio. “And each one has different tastes and opinions about loudspeakers, but we’ve been able to satisfy them with MLA. It’s worked very well. A lot of guys who hadn’t heard MLA were definitely impressed.”
Fortunately for 3G, Las Vegas doesn’t present as many problems with noise complaints because the Speedway is quite a ways out of town, with only Nellis Air Force base nearby that makes its own kind of noise created by F16 jets flying in and out on a regular basis.
The Vegas site also has a large open area in the speedway oval and even though there are so many stages Keith tells us, ‘In terms of the DJs and what they’re playing, you can go from one stage to another in Vegas and you can lose the sound. All of the stages are facing in different directions with as much spread as possible between them, plus there’s a carnival in the middle of the festival with rides and attractions.
“Insomniac is committed to having a true carnival and festival experience and they want it to be the biggest, best and the loudest. They always push the envelope in terms of how much they can give their fans, but we are often walking a fine line with the surrounding communities. As such, we have to control sound to the best of our ability.
“The sound control was a big part of MLA’s initial appeal for us. And we really like where MLA is going in terms of control, ease of setup and quality of the boxes. We’ve had a great experience with MLA so far and there’s a very real application in other areas we are growing as well, such as corporate and TV broadcasting.
Concluding, Keith explains: “The audio quality overall has been stellar and we have yet to even run the system full throttle. More importantly, our customers and the bands/DJs have been really happy with it.”
For more about Martin Audio and MLA, please click to www.martin-audio.com