Impressive arsenal of D.A.S. systems for Arenal Sound
As one of Spain´s biggest summer festivals, the recently concluded Arenal Sound provided festival goers with an artist roster and a D.A.S. sound system comparable to none. Running for a staggering ten days from 23rd of July through the 1st of August, the festival featured top national and international performers including Armin Van Buuren (Netherlands), Vitalic (France), Marlango (Spain), Cranberries (Ireland), Macaco (Spain) and Simple Minds (Scotland) to name a few. Music performances took place on several stages which all had one thing in common; an impressive sound reinforcement system comprised of D.A.S. Aero Series 2 line array systems.
Being one of the festival's major sponsors, D.A.S. Audio in conjunction with local sound rental company Acustic Crom headed by Ricardo Mascarell assembled a formidable loudspeaker setup that included Aero 50 3-way, large format line array elements, Aero 12A 2-way, powered mid-high line array elements, and LX-218 high performance subwoofers. The main PA system was located on the "D.A.S. Stage", home to the biggest live performances and focal point of the festival. D.A.S. Audio's Head of Engineering Javier Navarro and his team of engineers, who supervised the set-up and operation of the system discusses the challenge of an event of this magnitude.
"This was the first year the Arenal Sound Festival was being held, so there were a few unknowns. We were particularly worried about the stage changes as there were seven different performances each night starting at 6:30 PM and ending at 7:00 AM the next day. Everything went really smooth and the sound was consistent throughout the whole event. To make sure we didn't get caught short on output, we decided to supply a system that would provide ample SPL regardless of the audience turnout. It was the right decision, as the attendance was massive."
The D.A.S. sound system deployed was equally massive. The two main left-right loudspeaker clusters-flown at the forward extremes of the stage area-each consisted of 16 D.A.S. Audio Aero 50 line array enclosures. Low frequency support was provided by 8 D.A.S. Audio LX-218 and 16 LX-218A subwoofers that were ground stacked eight units across and three units high using a cardioid configuration to keep the stage free of bass reflections.
Both loudspeaker systems were driven by 16 Lab Gruppen FP 10000Q power amplifiers and 4 D.A.S. SLA-4000 used for the LX-218. Flown alongside the Aero 50´s were 16 LX-218RA powered subwoofer systems. The main PA system included a center-fill cluster consisting of six D.A.S. Audio Aero 12A self-powered line array modules-flown from the top of the stage.
A number of different consoles were used during the event including a Midas XL3, a Yamaha PM-5D, a Digidesign Venue, and a Digico SD8. The digital signal outputs (L-R-Subs) of the various mixers were processed and routed using a Dolby Lake processor. The outputs of the processor were divided into PA left, PA right, flown subs left, flown subs right, center ground-stacked subs and the flown center-fill. A D.A.S. Audio DSP-2060 2-input / 6-output digital processor was used to handle the loudspeaker management chores for the cardioid configuration of the ground-stacked LX-218´s.
Another DSP-2060 allowed the center-fill to be divided into clusters of three units driven in a center-bottom and center-top configuration to control the signal levels for the near-field and mid-field independently. Each pair of Aero 50´s could also be controlled independently allowing for adjustment of the throw of the almost 9 meter (30 ft) high array of Aero 50´s.
As side-fills, flown from each side of the stage were five Aero 12A´s and two ground-stacked LX-218A´s. These provided the performers and musicians with excellent coverage anywhere on the stage. Thirteen D.A.S. SM-15A powered two-way stage monitors were available for the artists and musicians who preferred conventional monitoring over IEM. Drum-fills were handled by two small stacks comprised of two Aero 12A´s and a single LX-218A both stacks being used for the bands with two drummers.
Adjacent to the D.A.S. Stage was another "multi-purpose" stage sponsored by Mexican beer brewer Corona. The "Coronita Stage" was equipped with 12 D.A.S. Aero 12A´s and 12 LX-218A powered subwoofer systems. This stage was home to DJ contests, DJ´s and live bands. Thanks to their multi-angle design, Avant 12A powered portable systems were provided as stage monitors for the live acts. Four Avant 215A´s did double-duty being employed as side-fills for the bands or as rear monitors for the numerous DJ´s who performed on this stage which was in operation seven days from 3:30 in the afternoon until 7:00 in the morning the next day. During the entire event, two technicians from Acustic Crom handled the stage set-up and mixing tasks on the Coronita Stage.
A smaller system comprised of four Reference series RF-215.96 and four LX-215´s powered by D.A.S. H-4000 amps was located at the Beach Club stage located only meters from the shore line. DJ sessions and smaller live acts performed daily during the entire event from early afternoon until dawn. Besides the enthusiasm of the DJ´s to "pump it up", the intense heat seen throughout the event and an unexpected storm which blasted the equipment with rain and sand, the RF and LX systems suffered through a more-than-real-life torture test which was passed without any major problems.
Technical support for the event was supplied by a team of D.A.S. engineers which supervised the flying of all the systems and directly handled systems set-up, signal management and coordination with the sound engineers. Javier Navarro (Head of Engineering) Joan La Roda (Sound Engineer), Inma Herrera (D.A.S. Electronics Engineer and Factory Technical Support) and Gonzalo Arroyo (D.A.S. Design Engineer) were on hand during the entire event providing the FOH engineers with the system set-ups requested by the more than 30 performers who paraded the D.A.S. stage at Arenal Sound. All this, while keeping the Coronitas Stage and Beach Club in optimum condition.
Alongside the D.A.S. team was Ricardo Paláez (FOH engineer for Rafael Amarrgo), Suso Ramallo (FOH engineer and President of the Spanish Section of the AES) who helped out in numerous technical aspects of the event. Key to the success of the festival was Juan Castelló (Acustic Crom's Head of Audio for the event) who was essential in taking care of everything that needed to be done and also worked as FOH engineer for a number of the performers. Also on board was Dave Wooster from D.A.S. distributor Sennheiser UK, who acted as a liaison between the technical team and FOH engineers for The Cranberries and Simple Minds.
For the more than 100,000 "sounders", Arenal Sound was a spectacular event. For both the crew and the equipment, it was a brutal test of perseverance and reliability. Despite the adversities of intense heat, constant system configuration changes and the impressive number of FOH engineers involved, the opinion of those who mixed on the D.A.S. Stage was that the Aero Series 2 systems performed exceptionally well.
In terms of size, the event was large, with more than 700 people directly involved in the organization, an investment of 3.5 million euros, and more than 6 million euros of business for the city of Burriana. Equally impressive is the fact that with more than 150 boxes, 230 channels of amplification, 10 days and 12 hours a day including sound checks and system tuning, everything came back in working order. In terms of reliability, the numbers speak for themselves.