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Largest Line Array PA in South Africa

Largest Line Array PA in South Africa


Northwind Recording appointed Gearhouse South Africa to team up, design and supply the largest ever line array PA system to date to be used in the country, for the 3 day 2009 Mighty Men Conference (MMC 09), staged at the Shalom Farm, Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal.

Comprising 172 L-Acoustics speaker enclosures - a mix of VDOSC, dV-DOSC, Kudo and SB28 subs - in-the-round show featured a main stage system and two delay rings at 100 and 180 metres respectively from the centre, calculated to cover a sound-field radius of 300 metres/600 metre diameter.

The event has become an annual pilgrimage drawing people from all denominations and cultural groups within South Africa as well as Australia, UK and USA.

The goal of the weekend is to gather men to pray, to worship and unite and heal broken families. The ministry and teaching is headed up by evangelist preacher Angus Buchan. The event has rapidly grown over the last five years to what has now attracted over 130,000 people - all of whom needed to clearly see and hear the onstage action.


The 360 degree audio system was designed by Revil Baselga and modelled using Soundvision software. He chose L-Acoustics to provide crystal clear speech intelligibility and uniform coverage across the vast area, and this also had to accommodate a band.

The stage had a curved roof with clear skins supplied by Gearhouse sister company In2Structures, and was combined with a StageCo roof grid system minus the standard roof tarps. From this, four hangs of 8 VDOSC elements each with 2 dV-DOSC downfills were flown, complemented with dV front fills along each of the 4 lips of the stage.

Around the first 100 metre delay ring were 2 hangs of 8 VDOSC a side on the east/west axis, and 4 flown hangs of 6 Kudos on the 60 degree lines around that circumference, all rigged on 10 metre high towers.

For the outer delay ring, 4 stacks each with 6 Kudo speakers were positioned at the north/south/east/west/orientations, ground stacked at 6 metres high. Between each of these were 4 delays - of 4 dV-DOSC boxes each - also at 6 metres off the ground.

The 32 SB28 subs were located at each corner of the stage, stacked in a cardioid pattern, with 8 firing in each direction.

The show was engineered by Niklas Fairclough owner of Northwind Recording. Niklas chose to go analogue on this with a Midas XL3 console, complete with a 16 channel extender, and an immense amount of outboard gear - some supplied by Gearhouse and some of his own. The outboard count included 14 Drawmer gates, 8 channels of dbx 160SL and 6 of 160 4 channels of summit DCL200, BSS C2s, 4 EL8x Distressors, Avalon 747s and Avalon 737s and numerous effects. FOH was co-ordinated for Gearhouse by Adriaan van der Walt.

Monitors were run on a Yamaha MCL7 console fitted with Aviom card, complete with 6 Sennheiser G2 IEM systems and Aviom mixers. Twelve Clair Brothers 12AM wedges were used for vocal monitors - 3 on each side of the stage, with a 3-way split going to the record truck. The stage action was overseen for Gearhouse by Tom Gordon.

L-Acoustics amplification was also utilised throughout - the VDOSC powered by LA8 amps, with LA48s for the dvs and Kudos, 82 in total, along with 14 XTA crossovers - a mix of 224s, 226s and 426s. The amps were all networked, the LAs run over Ethernet and controlled via LA Network, and the XTAs run via RS485 managed with their proprietary Audiocore programme.

The time alignment was a massive challenge, and a fabulous result was achieved by systems engineer Jacob de Wit with a little help from SMAART.

Baselga's crew of 8 also had to think on their feet at times! A good example of this was in developing a custom acoustic baffling system for the Kudo stacks in the first delay ring. Each of these was back-to-back with a delay LED screen which kept throwing reflections into the arena. The treatment was developed using straw bales, which were plentiful on site and proved a highly effective solution.

And also .....

LEDVision (also a Gearhouse company) supplied Lighthouse R16 daylight LED screens for MMC 09. Four screens each made up from 6 x 4 panels of Lighthouse were rigged from each side of the stage. Two of these had to be raised before the roof structure as its sides were lower than the screen height, a precise operation which added a day to the rig. The LED Systems Engineer was Allen Evans.

Another four 6 x 4 panel screens were rigged to the back of the aforementioned 60 degree Kudo delay towers stationed around the first ring. This position was chosen to maximise the audience viewing angles and coverage.

LEDVision manufactured special SIB distribution boards to extend the data signal to run to the delay screens.

Gearhouse Power supplied two 300KVA and two 120KVA generators which were used for all the production and site power.

All the production equipment - approximately 180 tonnes - was transported to and from site in 10 trucks, and included 4 all-terrain telescopic forklifts for moving kit around the site.

The event was project managed on site by Eyal Yehezkely with onsite assistance (structures and site) by Attie van Staden, and co-ordinated generally by Gearhouse account handler Robyn Mulligan.

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