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HARMAN’S JBL VTX Line Arrays Help Emporium Festival Raise the Sound Thresholds

NORTHRIDGE, California – Twelve months ago Dutch rental company Story Sound mobilized a vast armory of its then-brand-new HARMAN’s JBL VTX line array PA system to cover eight stages for the Emporium Festival in the city of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Deploying its own inventory—and enclosures sub-hired in from AED Rent—Story Sound gave the system its first major baptism.

But after working with the system for a year, and learning much about its capabilities, Michael Story, Managing Director of Story Sound, was able to proudly declare, “With what we have been able to do with VTX we can now guarantee a different future for this event.”

He was referring to an easing of the sound thresholds traditionally imposed on this one-day event by the local authorities. For this hard dance/DJ festival site—the picturesque Berendonck recreational park, situated on 160 hectares in the suburb of Wijchen—is surrounded by a densely populated neighborhood.

Promoters Matrixx have always been heavily restricted with their offsite sound—bound by an agreement with the original production manager to taper off the sound at the perimeter to just 80db(A) at 50 meters in order to avoid neighborhood sound pollution. “It was just mad as sound is so frequency-dependent—and you can’t promote a festival on that basis,” stated Story.

However, this year the production company, aided by EASE plots, was able to show that by isolating the individual areas with the VTX system that it could exercise greater control. “In the past we have used the VERTEC® VT4889—but due to the new high frequency waveguide structure, VTX provides us with better tools,” he said.

“Also, we had better knowledge about how the sound would behave—we know a lot more about shaping the beam and are much more familiar with the EQ tapering and putting in the shelving features,” Story added. “The JBL Line Array Calculator is really accurate and after a year we can see much greater correlation between how the calculations are implemented and the actual reference sound. We proved that you could simply walk in and out of the sound field—and this convinced the authorities.”

Permission was granted to play 80dB(A) at 100 meters outside the festival area and on the field they were able to run the sound at around 105dB, with a distance of 50 meters between the stage and mix position—which satisfied both the promoters and audience.

This year’s Emporium Festival had grown to a 9-stage event, embracing every genre of dance music, which saw 30,000 people reveling under the theme, “Colours of India.” Each stage was named appropriately, with the main stage fittingly called Taj Mahal, and here DJ’s and dance acts such as Nicky Romero, Crookers, Shermanology, Showtek, Daddy’s Groove, La Fuente, Jordy Dazz, Brian Loui John, Zawdi MC and MC Iceman performed.

To achieve a soundscape that appeased both the artists and the authorities, the main stage in particular required high rigging towers, supporting 12 V25 line array elements per side (with eight per side on the smaller stages), so that the lows and mids could be spread. “By raising the trim level we could achieve greater directionality,” he said. “We also used 21 S28 subwoofers in a reverse cardioid set up on all stages so there was a good coupling of energy and we deployed two extra stacks of six V25 loudspeakers each on stage tilted to the near rows.”

Two delay stacks were set up behind the main mix tower, each featuring six VERTEC 4887A compact line array enclosures.

All passive loudspeakers were powered by Crown VRacks and Soundcraft MH3 analog and Vi1 digital consoles were provided (with Soundcraft Si Compacts on the smaller stages). This enabled Story Sound technicians to control the input of the DJ and monitor feeds, as well as the MCs’ mics, using the desk faders.

Story Sound again provided a sound technician to supervise each stage, with wireless laptop communication back to the central network control position in the production village, overseen on the HARMAN HiQnet™ platform. This allowed them to listen to the measuring devices, on the same network. “We monitored the system throughout the entire day and adjusted any disturbing frequencies and levels to stay within the allowed values,” they confirm.

So successful was the connection to the wireless backbone of the three measuring devices set strategically in a circle around the field that Story Sound has now set up a dedicated wireless satellite internet facility called Event Connection, headed by the company’s Barney Broomer and Michael Story. “In effect we are selling security, and the possibility of carrying out wireless measurement. It means that in the future, production people, police and authorities can deal with just a single source,” he said.

HARMAN (www.HARMAN.com) designs, manufactures, and markets a wide range of audio, lighting and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer, and professional markets. It is a recognized world leader across its customer segments with premium brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, and Mark Levinson®, and leading-edge connectivity, safety and audio technologies. The company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with Harman audio and infotainment systems. Harman has a workforce of about 14,300 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $4.4 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012.

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