d&b J-Series becomes an Arctic explorer
There is quite a lot to be surprised about in the city of Tromsø. Despite the fact it lies about 350 km north of the Arctic Circle, the impact of the Gulf Stream creates a relatively balmy climate, in January the average temperature can almost reach the giddy heights of nearly minus 4° C. Although the city is located on a small island in the far north of Norway, it boasts a population of about seventy thousand with another sixty thousand within its urban catchment area, making it one of the largest cities in Norway. That, together with its vibrant student population of ten thousand and its popularity as the location of choice to catch the breath taking sights of the Aurora Borealis, makes it a real Arctic hub of cultural activity.
So, setting up as supplier of audio, lighting and stage equipment in Tromsø makes far more commercial sense than one might first imagine as Trond Mikalsen, Technical Manager of Audionor AS explains, "There are quite a lot of live events in Tromsø, many more than one might think. Apart from two big outdoor festivals in the summer, Tromsø attracts big names from across the artistic range, in 2012 both the Mariinsky Ballet from St. Petersburg and Elton John performed here. We also host the Tromsø International Film Festival, the Northern Lights Festival which showcases a host of classical, jazz, folk and contemporary artists and Arctic Frontiers, a conference on Arctic and Climate related issues. All these actually make January our busiest month of the year."
Since Audionor began in 1995 as a purely sound rental company, it has evolved into a one stop shop for almost all live events in this part of Norway so when the company was looking to replace their old sound system it was clear that any option would have to be flexible, reliable and of a quality that would satisfy all comers. Mikalsen continues, "We'd been aware of the J-Series from d&b audiotechnik for quite some time, originally from the industry press and then from seeing who had been using the system; we could tell that the J- Series was definitely of interest. After learning more about it, the size, the weight, the amps, we became more and more convinced that the J-Series would be ideal. After it started appearing on literally all the riders we received from international artists, it really stood out as our weapon of choice."
Audionor contacted Norway's d&b audiotechnik distributor, Drammen Lyd in Oslo. Managing Director, Rasmus Eide who continues the story, "Audionor is a highly respected company and I have known Trond for many years, he is widely regarded as one of Norway's most respected sound engineers. So, when he contacted Drammen Lyd about finding a d&b J-Series system, we were more than happy to help. We were able to offer Audionor a brand new sixteen box J-Series system within their budget even though they were originally looking to source a second hand system."
Mikalsen concurs, "We had a pretty good idea of the specification we wanted, although we do all kinds of shows: classical, rock, theatre, sporting events, even setting up as a cinema sound system, it also needs to be able to cater for a rock show with an audience of about five thousand. In that setting, with the flown arrays weighing just over five hundred kilos per side, the J-Series is, in our opinion, the most effective line array system there is. I initially got in touch with Rasmus explaining our plans to try and source a second hand system. But after we got some quotes, purchasing a new system seemed just as cost effective. The price difference between a four or five year old system and a brand new one was so small and, of course, we now have the d&b audiotechnik five year warranty on all the loudspeaker components along with the d&b reputation for reliability and performance and the rider acceptance that we were looking for. Drammen Lyd gave us a fair deal and they have been an invaluable source of advice throughout the whole process; it's obvious to us why d&b use them as their distributor. It is nice to know that, through Drammen Lyd, we have access to all the technical expertise at d&b audiotechnik, and are confident that we have a great system to work with for the next ten years."
The J-Series system arrived at Audionor just in time for the Bukta Festival, a three day rock festival held every summer in Tromsø that attracts around fifteen thousand visitors. The 2012 line up included, among others, The Cardigans, Thin Lizzy, Wolfmother, Rival Sons, local heroes, Violet Road and the Norwegian Bruce Springsteen: Åge Aleksandersen. "This was obviously going to be something of a baptism of fire for the system, would it be big enough, would we be able to set it up correctly for an event like this? says Mikalsen. "But we needn't have worried. With the d&b ArrayCalc software we had everything figured out before the gear even arrived in Tromsø. Rasmus flew up here for a day, the week before the festival and showed us the basics on how to fly it. At the venue everything was up and running in less time than our previous system which we have had for ten years.
Being among the first to use the brand new system certainly didn't seem to deter Oscar Söderlund, currently FOH Engineer for The Cardigans and who's CV includes bands such as The Hives and Graveyard. "Having a J-Series system in this northern part of Norway is a huge asset. It simply sounds great, always!"
"First time users are all really impressed with the power and clarity of the loudspeakers as well," reports Mikalsen, "While we really like the amplifier's remote control function and the ability to monitor the system performance in real time. We hope to be able to add more cabinets to the J-Series system in the future and will also be looking into acquiring a d&b audiotechnik monitor system. We know we have got a world class product along with excellent support from Drammen Lyd and want to build on that, Rasmus will be getting a call very soon."