d&b's Js deliver 50 Cent rap in Helsinki
Two nights at Helsinki's largest venue, the Hartwall Arena, not bad for a boy from the wrong side of Queens. But then 50 Cent has become quite the international phenomenon in recent years, even in the frozen north of Europe. Helsinki might be the capital of Finland, and Finland might be Europe's heavy metal HQ, but that didn't stop seventeen thousand excited Finnish rap and hip-hop fans wanting to 'get tickets or die tryin'.
The Hartwall concerts were a one-off event, 50 Cent was not on tour, and as such his Production sensibly availed themselves of local services, calling upon Akun Tehdas, Finland's leading equipment rental provider, to supply all 50 Cent's sound requirements. "This was a typical large scale event for us," said Timo Liski of Akun Tehdas, "that meant 100 percent attention to detail." The company had just taken delivery of their brand new
J-Series line array system from d&b. Having already attended their J-Series training in the real world environment of Stuttgart's Martin Schleyer Halle, Liski was keen to show Finnish audiences what it could do.
"This was a concert of very high sound levels," he began, "especially in the low end. We rigged just eight J-SUBs a side to provide the kind of powerful low end this type of act needs. I must confess at first I thought we should put in some B2 subwoofers as well, but when you stack the J-SUBs four high it takes them down to 30 Hz so there was really no need. There was definitely enough energy, -3dB to the main rig and the engineer Bill Barnett said he had lots of head room."
Barnett concurred; we spoke to him after the concert. "Yeah, with 50 Cent there's a lot of 808 bass sound in there, normally I find I have to pull 50 Hz or thereabouts, and I don't recall having to do that in Helsinki. In fact low end was really good, it was rattling anything that was loose, I saw empty coke cans jumping around." So what was it like using a foreign PA company? "It was very much situation normal for me, Akun Tehdas were no different from any other professional audio rental company, they did a great job. From that point of view, my requirements aren't great, we carry our own microphones, but that d&b rig they provided was awesome right across the board."
The Hartwall is relatively small by arena standards, "We rigged ten J8s and two J12s a side," said Liski. "The out-fill was nine Q1s at a 45 ° angle to stage, then four Q7s as a near fill along front stage. The Arena is quite tight vertically, it is just twenty-one metres to the back of the hall but it is very steep. The predictive software for line array configuration proved perfect and the coverage was remarkably uniform. Bill provides a very solid mix with vocals firmly placed; energy is high, I measured a steady 103/104 dBA (Slow) with +4 to +5 dB on the peaks."
"This system was especially good for getting the vocals in the mix" concluded Barnett. "I do like pretty much all line arrays, with one or two exceptions. They're all good at getting the vocals, but this d&b system would have to be one of my favourites."