d&b KSL Pumps Australia Day Harbour Party.

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Sydney’s iconic Opera House peninsula, jutting out into the city’s famous harbour near the landmark bridge, is the epicentre of the annual Australia Day celebrations. It’s the instantly recognisable location that screams ‘Aussie’ to the world and reminds us of the magical beauty of the country.

This year, it was the location of an outdoor concert to mark the national holiday, featuring the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and a host of homegrown artists. A stage was erected on the foreshore, at the foot of the steps leading to the soaring architecture of the Opera House’s entrance.

Eighth Day Sound was audio supplier of choice for the special occasion, specifying the d&b audiotechnik KSL System, the smaller sibling to the GSL System, offering ingenious cardioid characteristics and remarkable directivity, right down to 50Hz. The spill from the rear and side is minimal, meaning it’s possible to put more sound where the audience is and less where it’s not wanted.

Behind the KSL system, it’s almost silent. Wow. Australia has some heavy restrictions. Using the Opera House’s forecourt has always been delicate from a noise police perspective. The Opera House is intent on ensuring it can keep staging outdoor events into the future and do not want one single event to jeopardise the future of those events.Tristan Johnson, Lead System Tech, Eighth Day Sound

Water does, of course, carry soundwaves further than might be preferable. Sydney’s CBD is adjacent to the site and moreover, some of Australia’s most expensive apartments are less than 100m away. The Harbour party organisers had considered offering free VIP tickets, in a bid to appease nearby residents. However, the d&b KSL System offered another route.

Eighth Day's Lead System Tech, Tristan Johnson, says: “Australia has some heavy restrictions. Using the Opera House’s forecourt has always been delicate from a noise police perspective. The Opera House is intent on ensuring it can keep staging outdoor events into the future and do not want one single event to jeopardise the future of those events. It’s a really big deal for them and they take compliance extremely seriously.”

Prepping the event, Johnson employed the d&b NoizCalc prediction software, mapping the surrounding buildings, water and geology to ensure the optimal sonic experience was delivered to the right ears – the concertgoers – and not the wrong ones. Johnson used the d&b ArrayCalc software to create precise simulations and a three-dimensional representation of the audience area within the space.

The Opera House engaged audio consultancy firm Auditoria to put together a sound plan for an event, and The PA People conducted official noise monitoring. Sound meters were placed in the nearby residential apartments, at FoH and on the northern shore of the harbour, while a mobile measurement device could roam as needed. Multiple layers of noise management worked together to ensure there were no audio infringements.

“When I walked out there, I listened to the main KSL hang, then walked around to listen to the side hang and I was like, ‘Wow’. Behind the KSL, it’s almost silent.Tristan Johnson

On-site, Johnson was immediately impressed by the rear rejection of the KSL System: “It’s half of what I’m thinking about on a forecourt gig: I’m thinking about what’s coming off the back as much as I’m thinking about what’s coming out the front. When I walked out there, I listened to the main KSL hang, then walked around to listen to the side hang and I was like, ‘Wow’. Behind the KSL, it’s almost silent. It’s so quiet that the monitor guys had to beef up the side fills and add a little bit more on the stage to compensate for what you would normally expect to spill onto stage from the PA.”

When you have dozens of open mics on stage there are some constraints. You can’t just push the level up if you want to keep the balance, but that’s definitely where KSL helped us compared to last year - what didn’t come out of the back and sides of the KSL PA was quite helpful when you’ve got that many open mics on stage.
Ian Cooper, FOH Engineer, Australia Day Concert

Ian Cooper was FoH engineer for the event, which in addition to the multiple acts, featured the thirty three-piece Sydney Symphony Orchestra ensemble: “It’s all about hearing the detail. That’s the aim for this gig,” he says. “But when you have dozens of open mics on stage there are some constraints. You can’t just push the level up if you want to keep the balance, but that’s definitely where KSL helped us compared to last year - what didn’t come out of the back and sides of the KSL PA was quite helpful when you’ve got that many open mics on stage.”

Johnson continues: “The KSL’s throw is further and smoother. It’s a lot more controlled in the mid-range and the low/mid-range, and there’s power there. KSL has power. As soon as you put the vocal in the PA it seems to jump out at you straight away - very cleanly and truly.”

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