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K-array makes Waves at the Asian Games

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GUANGZHOU, China – December 8, 2010: Spectacular and ground-breaking, the opening ceremony of the Asian Games in China was bound to invite comparisons with the Beijing Olympics, but organizers were determined that Guangzhou would be unique and creatively different from anything that had gone before. To begin with, this was the first time an opening ceremony for an Olympiad had been held outside of an athletics stadium. From the performances to the setting, this grand welcome to China oozed innovation. This spirit of the cutting edge extended to the audio setup, with K-array speakers making an impression with their slim-line appearance combined with powerful output.

Guangzhou, a Chinese coastal city not far from Hong Kong, is proud of its maritime tradition; in recognition of the city’s seafaring heritage, ‘water’ was a main theme of the opening ceremony. The event took place on an island in the middle of Pearl River, with the Guangzhou skyline as an illuminated backdrop. Four giant LED screens resembled sails, making it appear as though the entire island had become a sailboat. The athletes arrived floating down the river in 45 Chinese sailboats–one for each country at the games–which arrived at the ceremony one by one. Each boat was equipped with a K-array KR200s system, connected to the main PA by radio, enabling the athletes to listen to live feed from the ceremony as they arrived. It was essential that the speakers on the boats could be heard but not seen, in order to retain the historical charm of the Chinese sailboats. KR200s were the ideal choice as they could be easily concealed while still guaranteeing superb sound for all athletes aboard the vessels.

Music was a central part of the opening night, with 21 composers charged with writing music for the event. The most famous of these was Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who played a piece on the piano that was especially written for the evening. There were also speeches from athletes, performances from drummers, and a series of amazing traditional dances with a modern twist.

The variety of the night’s performances meant that the sound system had to be capable of both precision and wide coverage, as the main stand seated 27,000 people. The main sound engineer for the opening ceremony, Tony Liu, chose K-array speakers for a variety of different applications, with 140 K-array systems used in all during the event. In addition to accompanying the sailboats, KR200s speakers were also used as main PA for the spectators, placed every 10 meters all the way up the main stand. A conventional PA would have likely blocked spectators’ view of the event, but the 2.24-inch wide KR200s are so thin, they enabled fantastic sightlines for the entire crowd. Liu was amazed by the performance of the KR200s, describing the low end as “deeper than expected? and “tighter? than other sub-woofers. Moving across the stand from left to right, it was impossible to notice the phase between the two banks of speakers.

K-array Kobra KK50 line array elements were placed along the front of the VIP section, which hosted the Chinese Prime Minister among other dignitaries, providing exceptional sound quality from only 20 inches of hardware. Due to their unique performance-to-size-ratio, the Kobra speakers were the only viable choice for this area, as they were able to nestle just under the hand rail in front of the VIPs, becoming virtually invisible, while still providing top-line performance.

Guangzhou’s and K-array’s big moment in the limelight was watched by two billion spectators live on CCTV, the Chinese state television channel, with images and clips being instantly sent all over the world. Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, was effusive in his praise for this cutting-edge welcome to the 2010 Asian Games, describing it as ‘absolutely fantastic,’ and ‘technically very sound.’

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