Deep Purple on tour: a heavy metal democracy with d&b
With legendary hits like Black Night, Highway Star and Child in Time, Deep Purple is without doubt something of a phenomenon in the here today gone tomorrow music business.
When, in 2015, this hard rock legend descended on Germany as part of their European tour, The König Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen served as a major venue. From the outset it was clear the audio system would need ‘the full monty’ for the seven thousand strong audience. Most of the equipment, including d&b, came from the comprehensive stocks at TDA Rental.
The stage setup featured line arrays flown down the left and right with three J-SUBs positioned at each top. “Assuming the setup allows for it, I always try to hang as many cabinets as possible,” explains Sven Wiese, systems engineer for Deep Purple since 2011. “If there’s any way I can, I’ll fly a 3/16. If that’s not possible, I tend to use a 3/12 arrangement instead of 16 tops – I prefer to fly subwoofers to get the right sound.”
The engineers lined up thirty d&b D80s to amplify the arena. These were distributed through two amp cities to the left and the right of the stage. The entire signal flow was digital: Wiese obtained three digital audio signals (left/right/sub) from the FoH console through two AES/EBU lines. The signals were fed into a Dolby Lake LP4D12 processor, which was connected to the measurement systems and a MotU interface, plus the console being used for the supporting act. From the Dolby Lake controller four AES/EBU pairs (seven audio signals: J-Series L/R, V-Series L/R, Q-Series L/R, and mono sub) were fed into two d&b DS10 Audio network bridges positioned at FoH. From here, the Dante network protocol was used to supply signals to the amp cities next to the stage. Here, another DS10 was used to convert signals into AES/EBU so that these could be fed into the D80 amplifiers. The second amp city was connected to its counterpart on the other side via Dante/DS10.
Since the early days Wiese has followed the development of ArrayProcessing, and regularly provides feedback to the d&b team. “The software specialists at d&b are always extremely keen to hear what users need and this is channelled straight into their development work – assuming it doesn’t go against the grain of their company philosophy,” observes Wiese. “One of the advantages with ArrayProcessing is that sound is practically homogenous throughout the whole arena, even over a comparatively large area. When you’re listening at the FoH position, if the settings are right the deviations versus what the concertgoers actually hear from their positions are minimal. For me, that’s an absolutely huge advantage. Also, with ArrayProcessing you can make really fine adjustments and define exactly how loud it should be in specific areas of the venue.”
Temperature and humidity can have a major impact on high frequency correction with ArrayProcessing, so this was one aspect Wiese paid particularly close attention to; he stored several useful settings in different slots and then on the night, added the necessary parameters to compensate for air absorption. “The tool allows me to control performance extremely precisely. Under ideal conditions, even if you’re watching right at the back, you get the impression you’re sitting much closer to the stage than you actually are.” On the decision to apply ArrayProcessing? “A total winner,” says Wiese.