Welcome to the Jungle
BORNEO: A d&b audiotechnik system was used to power the 2015 Rainforest World Music Festival in Borneo. Combining renowned international artists onstage with indigenous musicians from the island for evening performances, activities were also laid on during the day, such as informative workshops, ethno-musical lectures, jamming sessions and mini concerts. The festival featured several small stages that encircled two main stages – the largest of which was equipped with V-series main cabs, J-Subs and V-Subs, supplied by Malaysian rental company, Projection House.
‘We’ve been delivered loudspeakers with ripped cones hanging out, taken amplifiers apart to blast them with hair dryers, and been dealt pretty much everything that can go wrong,’ explained FOH engineer and technical director, Niall Macaulay, of previous years’ experiences. ‘Sometimes the wildlife takes our attention, with scorpions on stage, snakes lurking under the monitor desk, or perhaps the most memorable occasion - when a colugo, or “flying lemur”, soared 50m across the audience and entirely upstaged the band.’
The interruption from wildlife may not have changed throughout that time, but steady technical improvements have been made by the team each year. ‘To begin with, I worked with various point source cabinets, battling for sufficient volume to project the music,’ continued Mr Macaulay. ‘Buzzes, hums and crackles were constant companions. Things have improved as Sarawak has developed a more robust hire stock and a marketplace that demands that technical standards be upheld. More recently, line arrays have enabled a quantum leap in sound quality: control of directional coverage, eliminating wasted energy, and with huge advantages in feedback control – allowing clarity, lack of resonance and higher SPLs. This year’s festival saw our first use of a complete d&b audiotechnik system on the main or ‘Jungleʼ stage, input by a Yamaha CL5, and fed by Shure, DPA and AKG microphones. We used the d&b V-Series, in hangs of seven V8 and two V12 per side, coupled with eight J-Subs and a pair of V-Subs, with the tuning assistance of Shidi Zack from D Box Technique.
‘I was initially concerned about placing cardioid subwoofers close to the festival’s concrete stage front, but they produced good results,’ the FOH engineer offered. ‘Our stage manager, Theo Van Eenbergen, reported a significant drop in interference from bass frequencies onstage – a vital factor when the system is covering a large arena, and onstage can have a veritable forest of open percussion and instrument mics. Perhaps the ultimate test was a “body percussion” performance by Balinese group Kobagi Kecak. With two AKG 414s in a stereo pair, two SM81s to cover the sides and an SM91 for foot percussion, the results were stunning.
‘One journalist I spoke to was convinced the performance was lip-synced,’ recalled Mr Macaulay. ‘He simply couldn’t believe the audio achieved for their performance was real - a reaction that brought a wry smile to my face and, in my mind, a round of applause for the design and engineering at d&b audiotechnik, once again exceeding expectations.’