d&b: the only direction to go.
There’s little doubt that One Direction are the boy band of the moment. Wigwam Acoustics supplied the audio system for their summer assault on stadiums with the ‘Where We Are’ tour. Chris Hill, Wigwam’s Client Manager, explains why d&b was the loudspeaker system of choice, “We chose to use a J-Series rig from d&b audiotechnik for several reasons but if I had to narrow it down: first, this is the sort of environment that the J-Series loves - we knew that the J8 arrays would deliver a superlative performance whatever the challenges of the show and secondly, its relatively light weight made it ideal as weight restrictions played a big part in the final sound design.”
This was a stadium tour on a grand scale so it comes as something of a surprise that the Wigwam crew were unable to rig the J-Series system exactly as they wished. Wigwam's System Tech, Nick Mooney elaborates, "Due to the complexity of the stage and set design we were unable to fly any of the J-SUBs. We took great care in positioning the subs to create an even and full response throughout the stadiums but at the same time not creating a huge hot spot of sub bass for the audience in the front rows. This was achieved by careful positioning of the J-SUBs and creating a sub array with use of the d&b ArrayCalc software."
"We were also restricted to twenty loudspeakers for each of the main hangs," continues Mooney, "However this didn’t compromise their role of covering the floor area of the stadiums evenly. It was just as we expected, the J-Series system performed exceptionally well in this type of environment. The shows were packed out and the noise levels from the audience were quite staggering at times. Running down the centre of the stadium floor was the thrust with the hydraulic B-stage at the end of it - some thirty metres from the stage. Consequently, the boys spent a good proportion of their time in front of the PA which is always a challenge for both the monitor and the FOH engineers."
In addition to the main J-Series arrays were outfills that covered up to about 150° but with ticket sales at a premium this needed to be increased to 200° or even 220° at times. Here Wigwam opted for extra hangs of V-Series to provide the necessary accuracy and spread.
Two delay towers were positioned about seventy metres from the front edge of the stage on the stadium floor to accommodate the maximum throw of the followspots. As Mooney says, "These were used to enhance the main system on the rear part of the floor and lower tiered seating as well as providing coverage to the upper tiers. Again the J-Series more than proved their worth; we used a mixture of J8s and J12s here along with some B2 subwoofers. The whole system was controlled via 03 x XTA 448 at FOH and the d&b audiotechnik R1 Remote control software."
The last word is from Chris Hill. "This production presented Wigwam with some major challenges from an audio perspective. However, one aspect was never in doubt: that d&b audiotechnik's J-Series would be more than up to the job. It certainly didn't disappoint."
Photographs courtesy of Calvin Aurand and Julie Harper.