Dan Powell, one of Neuron's engineers gives the low-down of his time with the Extreme Sailing Series 2015.Read More
August 2012 saw Neuron return to the picturesque coastal town of Pula in the North of Croatia not only for the bass music Mecca that is Outlook Festival, but to take part in the birth of its new younger sibling – Dimensions Festival. After the hugely successful deployment of our Psyco and Prime system last year for Arena 6 ‘Outside the Fort’ we were pleased to be invited back this year to provide audio reinforcement for no less than four stages within the epic surroundings of Fort Punta Christo, utilising nearly the full range of our stock of Void Acoustics PA systems.
In total, we were tasked with system design for Fort Arena 1, The Courtyard, Noah’s Ballroom and The Dungeon stages at Outlook, and Arena 6 ‘Outside the Fort’, Courtyard and Noah’s Ballroom at Dimensions.
Fort Arena 1
With 16 Psyco Subs impressing audience and crew alike at Outside the Fort in 2011, we felt 2012 was time to step up the system capability even further to excel the needs of even the most bass hungry festival goer. To this end, no less than 24 Psyco Subs were installed in a fearsome mono array with 10 Stasys Primes deployed for mid high coverage in this 1500 capacity open air arena, surrounded by 12ft high fort walls. A rack of Powersoft K Series drove a casual 36,000 watts of bass, with Void’s own Infinite V2 and Lab Gruppen FP powering the Stasys Primes.
The result of the bass array driven by the Powersoft flagship amp range was nothing short of breathtaking – the pressure experienced in the first ten rows was intense to say the least, and the array maintained even coverage throughout the arena and even as far away as the campsite half a mile away by some accounts! The width and configuration of the bass array meant we were able to create left and right towers with an central row of subs spanning the width of the stage, allowing us to place the Primes at different heights to give consistent and coherent mid-high coverage and centre fill in one stack without the need for delays or smaller format infills.
In such a dry, arid climate an old stone fort is the ideal place for dust to mount up – throw in a few thousand party goers to kick it up and you have an almost constant dust storm despite the production teams best efforts with a gravel ground covering across the most heavily trafficked areas of the site. Tackling this meant that every amp, processor and desk required a thorough blast of compressed air alongside a clean of their foam filters prior to showtime each day. Despite the harsh conditions all equipment performed admirably with no major failings of any kind over the three weeks of running the systems near to maximum potential.
Across the weekend this stage saw the likes of Get Darker, Vagabondz, Black Box and Substance take over the arena on different nights playing host to industry heavyweights such as True Tiger, Newham Generals, Addison Groove, Scuba, Hatcha, N-Type, Quest and Silkie to name but a few. The general consensus from artists, organisers and party goers alike was that this was the most pleasingly uncomfortable sound on site!
The Courtyard, Noah’s Ballroom and The Dungeon:
Three intimate stages in close proximity within the fort made for some of the most memorable atmospheres across the whole site.
Due to the relatively small size of the spaces combinations our new stock of Void Arcline arrays combined with Stasys X for extra low-end extension were implemented with great success. Each system was again powered using Powersoft’s flagship K Series amplification, and PKN Controls XE series; a young up-and-comer in the SMPS amp world that we were fortunate enough to demo for the weeks overseas.
The Courtyard featured the largest of these systems, one Stasys X, two Arcline X and two Arcline 6 per side in a 500 capacity open-air arena. Running the larger format bass cabinets for the lower end of the spectrum allowed additional headroom on the all important kick and upper bass range, ensuring fast, accurate depth right to the back of the audience. Stand out performances were from Oneman, Blue Daisy and the Hoya:Hoya takeover on Friday night.
Noah’s Ballroom, you have to see it to believe it. One of the most challenging spaces on site is a cylindrical open air arena old turret with a capacity of 200 at a push! Less meant more in this space and the Arcline 6 came into its own. We deployed a single Arcline 6 per side using Void’s bespoke winch stands that fit neatly into a cutout on the rear of the Arcline X bass cabinets. This allowed us to elevate the cabinets significantly above audience head height, with a steep downward tilt keeping unwanted reflections off the walls. An additional central array of two Stasys X as in the Courtyard completed a capable system with excellent results.
An unexpected issue was encountered shortly into the event – rain, and not just your average British summer showers either. Monsoon season decided to join the party early this year and on the Friday and Saturday nights torrential downpours flooded much of the site. Quick deployment of waterproof coverings on sensitive equipment and minor stage layout alterations took care of the majority of concerns, but Noah’s Ballroom was a particular worry. An open-topped vertical cylinder with zero drainage available meant that 20 minutes of rain could produce almost 6 inches of water with no sign of escape until the sun decided to come back out. With pallets deployed to elevate the ground stacked cabinets and tarpaulin affixed to the DJ booth and sensitive interconnects, no problems due to water ingress were encountered – to be expected, what with us being of Mancunian origin after all!
The Dungeon is the only indoor arena at the festival and is by far the most challenging acoustic environment we had to work with. A series of un-treated circular stone tunnels would be the best way to describe this 200 capacity arena, with low ceilings and minimal ventilation making for some very sweaty nights! Keeping high frequency reflections under control was absolutely crucial and once again utilising the ever capable Arcline 6 meant we were able to place the left and right stacks some distance apart, with the 120 degree horizontal dispersion ensuring that sound reached across the central dancefloor as well as right down the tunnels, covering the maximum number of people with just a small number of cabinets.
Before the Outlook recovery could begin in earnest the very next weekend saw the birth of a new festival – same promoters, same site (bar some fantastic changes to art and visual elements) but Dimensions festival was a very different beast altogether. If Outlook is to be remembered for anything it will be its rowdy UK bass music heritage; Dimensions by comparison was considerably more chilled out with a much greater European influence and dare we say more adult vibe. From the Outlook hype of drum and bass and dubstep to the more avant garde electronica and pounding 4 x 4 beats of house and techno, Dimensions promised a very different party but equally as epic in its own right.
A significant change for us was relocating our larger system from Arena 1 over the road to our familiar home from the previous year at Arena 6 ‘Outside the Fort’. The same Psyco Sub and Stasys Prime system was used here, but arrayed as a wider pair of L&R towers to make way for a stunning video mapping installation that spanned the entire width of the stage. Heat transpired to be more of a problem here than at Fort Arena 1 due to the lack of side walls offering shade or sheltering the rig from the early rising sun before the event started each evening. We combated this with additional amp rack cooling fans and a thick scrim placed over the subs at the end of show early each morning, just before sunrise. Simple, but effective.
All other systems remained in the same configuration with exception of the Dungeon, which was closed for the event. Minor adjustments to EQ and overall system balance were made to compensate for the shift in focus from relentless bottom end to an overall more refined, accurate studio sound, contributing such giants as Theo Parrish, Moodyman, Floating Points, Addison Groove and Machinedrum being hugely complimentary to the sound achieved both on and off stage.
Neuron would like to thank the production team behind Outlook and Dimensions Festivals for making our stay highly enjoyable and rewarding once again. Special thanks must go to Enteetainment LTD for their role in managing the site’s challenging technical production in earnest, with particular praise to Mick Heath and Alex Spencer who looked after us from beginning to end.