Being There…The Concert of Love – in aid to the tsunami survivors in South-East Asia
By Vasilis Ladonikolas & Thanasis Paschalis
The Hellenic Radio & Television organization (H.R.T.), the public national network of Greece, set off to organize a large concert aiming to collect funds to aid the tsunami survivors in South-East Asia. The concert took place in the Olympic Basketball Court in Marousi, Athens with 40 Greek singers & artists participating accompanied by H.R.T.’s Contemporary Music Symphony Orchestra. AV PRO was there to witness not only one of the largest concerts of all time but also to investigate and report about the technical aspects of the event.
To meet the demanding standards of such a large event various companies collaborated smoothly in a system comprising of three subsystems covering live sound reinforcement, recording and of course broadcasting. The company responsible for the sound reinforcement system was Enttech using McCauley speakers in the main P.A. system
As far as acoustics is concerned, the Olympic Basketball Court was not the best of places but it was the most suitable one due to its ability to accommodate nearly 16000 people who were there to support the suffering countries in South-East Asia.
The biggest problem of the venue was the big reverberation time due to many reflecting surfaces and the volume of the place. The reverberation problem was partially solved due to the fact that the stadium was full. Despite the success of the concert though, the Enttech personnel had to struggle to find the right
setting for the system which meant testing the system again and again. “Thank God we used the same system on the opening ceremony for the 2004 Olympics” says Philip Dagres the person responsible for setting and fine tuning the P.A. system. “We were very familiar with setting the system on large venues. In the opening and closing ceremonies for the Athens Olympics we used the same speakers so we had already confronted this kind of problems with large spaces which were not built with music performance in mind. While tuning the system we used McCauley’s software along with some presets also provided by McCauley which proved to be of great value. The choice for the speakers used was suggested by the same software. These choices provided the system with better diversity and the less amount of reflected sound possible.” Further requirements involved a flatter frequency response in order to avoid colorations due to the numerous reflections.
Indeed, Enttech’s technicians managed to use the P.A. system very efficiently judging by the quality of the sound reaching us in the F.O.H. desk (sitting next to the F.O.H. engineer).
McCauley Monarc MLA3 speakers were used as front fill speakers on each side. These were accompanied by 8 Electro-Voice X-Line subwoofers. Covering the left & right side of the stage, 8 McCauley MLine speakers were used along with 4 McCauley MS1 subwoofers. Filling the center and the listeners sitting on the front seats, Nexo PS15 speakers were used. Every speaker in the system was supported by numerous Lab.Gruppen fp 6400 power amplifiers. The amplifiers were controlled by Lake Contour controllers.
The F.O.H. mixing system involved two Midas Heritage consoles (models 3000 & 2000) plus outboard equipment by TC Electronic, Lecixon and Klark Teknik.
For monitoring purposes, several McCauley SM92-2 speakers were used along with consoles by Midas (XL250) and Crest (LMX). The main monitoring system, serving the lead singer, was comprised by 4 monitors which were fed by two discrete mix signal the first delivering the vocal and the second delivering the instrument mix-down.
Two of the most impressive elements of the setup were the number and quality of the microphones used on the symphony orchestra. Microphones manufactured by top companies from the likes of Schoeps, Neumann, AKG & DPA. All microphones, apart from the D.P.A.’s, were provided by H.R.T.. Six wireless Senheiser SKM 5000 microphones were used for vocals equipped with Neumann mic-heads.
Vangelis Koulouris (Front Of House – Mixing Engineer) - We found Vangelis Koulouris during sound-check and we asked him…as much as we could!
AV PRO: What were the difficulties regarding the event?
The concert required the cooperation of three different sub-systems regarding live sound reinforcement, recording and broadcasting. The size of the event made things a little harder due to the number of the spectators and the size of the venue. Hence, everybody had to do their best though.
AV PRO: Can you describe the system in a nutshell?
We asked for a line array system thinking that this would be the only way to get the best result possible. We wanted to cover the whole stadium with speakers on the front, on the left and on the right. For F.O.H. mixing, we used two Midas Heritage consoles serving for 80 input channels!
AV PRO: What is your opinion about the P.A. system?
It actually works very well since it has been fine tuned for this particular venue. I was a little anxious about the combination of these speakers in this specific stadium but it exceeded my expectations. I used the smaller McCauley line array speakers at Herodium, last year. It was my first encounter with the bigger series (Monarc MLA3 & MS6) and everything is OK!
Theodore Sfetsas (Managing Engineer – H.R.T.)
Theodore Sfetsas was leading the H.R.T. technical team during the event
AV PRO: Several different teams had to work together for this concert. How easy it was to combine your efforts with the other teams?
We have worked with most of the participating teams many times in the past. We engineers have our own language anyway. Sometimes we communicate only by looking one another (laughs). Enntech’s help proved to be valuable. They provided us with everything we needed.
AV PRO: How did you cope with the stadium’s acoustic peculiarities?
By using Vangelis Koulouris as the F.O.H. engineer (laughs)… Furthermore the system was fine-tuned according to the acoustics of the place. We also put a thick carpet to minimize the reflections coming from the floor.
Philip Dagres (Head Engineer - P.A. System Designer)
AV PRO: Philip, I think that the most difficult task, setting and fine-tuning the system, was given to you.
That’s true! I have to point out though, that we had used the system in the opening and closing ceremonies on the Athens 2004 Olympic Games so we knew hot to set the system to make it to work in large spaces. The system we used on the Olympics was bigger than the one we used here. For this setup we used McCauley software and presets. We put the speakers according to the software suggestions thus having the greatest diversity possible while keeping reflections at minimum.
AV PRO: You also used an extra system to cover the crowd on the sides of the stage…
Yes. Our purpose was to cover the entire stadium. All measurements showed that we did our job well. We used SmaartLive to measure the system after having taken the number of the spectator into account. We did nothing more than what was suggested by McCauley. We‘ve done many tests in the past and each of them proved that the system manufacturer is always right.
Yiannis Papoutsakis (C.E.O. - Enttech)
AV PRO: Is this the first big event after the Olympic ceremonies?
We have worked on the same venue before the Olympics but the requirements were for a smaller system. We now had the opportunity to set up the system we always wanted. This system is suitable for this venue and it is capable to uniformly cover the entire space.
AV PRO: The occasion for this event was somehow sacred. What was the arrangement as far as the equipment hired was concerned?
We did not get any money for the equipment. On the other hand all the technicians were paid in full. Enttech provided all equipment for free.
AV PRO: That didn’t stop you from using the best equipment you could…
My orders were clear. Despite the fact that there was no profit from the event we had to do the best job we could. We had to provide the concert with the best equipment we had because that was what the requirements were. We acted as we were working on a big budget.
AV PRO: Is it one of the biggest P.A. systems ever used in Greece? Yes it is and I have to admit that we would do it just for the fun of it. The biggest P.A. system ever used in Greece…
AV PRO: Did you like the outcome? The outcome was fabulous. Vangelis Koulouris (F.O.H. mixing engineer) played an important part to this. Despite the fact that the system has great potential, it is not fully used due to the fact that this isn’t a rock concert. This is a unique event and even the smallest detail is equally important.
32 x McCauley MONARC MLA3 16 x EV (subwoofers) 16 x McCauley M.LINE MS1 4 x M.LINE (subwoofer)
Amplifiers - Controllers 42 x Lab.Gruppen fp 6400 2 x Lake Contour
Stage Monitoring Speakers McCauley SM92-2
Amplifier 18 x Lab.Gruppen fp 6400 & EV1250
Mixing Consoles 1 x MIDAS XL250 (slave) 1 x Crest (main)
Front Of House 1 x MIDAS Heritage 3000 1 x MIDAS Heritage 2000 Lexicon PCM70 Lexicon PCM91 Tc electronic M3000 Yamaha SPX-990 2 x Klark Teknik DN360 BSS 504 8 x Klark Teknik DN500 Series (compressor) 8 x Klark Teknik DN500 Series (noise gate)
Microphone 8 x DPA (strings) 4 x Neumann 184 (guitars & bouzouki) 2 x AKG C 562 BL (piano) 8 x Neumann KMS 105 (woodwind & percussion) 7 x Shure Beta58 2 x AKG C 419 1 x Neumann U89 (double basses) 11 x Schoeps MK4 (microphone head) - CMC 5-U (preamp) 6 x Senheiser 5000 µe ???e? Neumann 105 (??a t?? f????) 4 x Shure SM57 Shure Beta52 3 x AKG 451 (overheads)