d&b reinforces Singapore's National Day Parade

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Each year Singapore, proud of its achievements as one of the world's most successful city states, holds a National Day of celebrations in August to mark the anniversary of its foundation. Singapore is an astonishing phenomenon, just 620 square kilometres with a population of four and a half million, it is one of the economic powerhouses of the world and has every right to be so proud.

The festivities take place across the broad swathe of Singapore with colourful dances and music, fabulous aerial displays, and fireworks in abundance. But the main focus is on a purpose-built outdoor show ground, the National Day Parade (NDP) Ground, dominated as it is by a 120m wide giant three-tier stage. The audience area is no less enormous; covering a width of 200m, it stretches back just over 90m.

For the audiophiles amongst you it is immediately apparent how difficult a space this is to cover; as organisers the National Day Parade, the committee was no less aware and engaged Scott Willsallen as audio consultant to solve this dilemma. 'I design the audio system and release a tender package, which several companies responded to.' Willsallen is an audio designer with great experience of such spectacular events for large audiences, most notably through his work on the Athens Olympics in 2004 and more recently the Asian Games in Doha 2006. 'For the 2008 NDP the contract was awarded to Showtec, who in turn sub-hired additional equipment and specialist labour from Norwest Productions.'

Willsallen's design solution was direct and effective. 'I elected to use a J-Series system line array from d&b audiotechnik; it's a system I've used before and have had excellent results. I also knew that Showtec, the local audio service company providing the equipment and crew, had virtually brand new J-Series in their inventory.' He approached the audience site logically, specifying twenty-four J8s and sixteen J subwoofers in a conventional left/right PA configuration with the subs stacked on the ground. For the enormous width between them a substantial front fill system was required. Willsallen determined four sets of six J8s ground stacked and equally spaced as an optimum coverage deployment. 'This was a very tricky balance to achieve, and the balance had to be met in relative amplitude, relative time, array azimuth and relative array EQ. A complex and delicate balance, it took considerable time and very subtle changes to achieve the optimum settings.'

Chandra Mohan, one of Showtec's leading engineers who worked the actual show found Willsallen's design very effective: 'It worked perfectly. I must admit I didn't expect it to go that far, and the sound quality from d&b is just there, you really get the full spectrum.' The system was controlled and monitored using d&b's proprietary R1 Remote control software via their R70 Ethernet to CAN interface, downstream of Dolby Lake processors. 'No real EQ was applied,' said Chandra. 'The Lakes were more for routing; they are a good line level mixer for that function.'

Willsallen was equally pleased with the results of his long labour of system tuning. 'Sure, the system outperformed my expectations; the ground stacks of six, which provide coverage of the centre section, were required to throw over 100m. d&b's system provided a consistent result from front row to back and maintains its fidelity at any listening level. The team from Showtec and Norwest Productions were excellent, as always.'

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