Adlib supplies for Summertime Ball

For the third consecutive year, UK technical production specialist Adlib Solutions supplied an L-Acoustics K1 PA system for the Capital FM Summertime Ball event, staged at Wembley Stadium, London.

The K1 was tuned by KSE & Systems Engineer Tony Szabo, who was joined by an Adlib crew of 16 including Crew Chief Marc Peers and Dave Kay, who worked as RF Coordinator.

Ian Nelson operated the presenter console, Michael Bernard Flaherty supervised the patch, while Adlib’s Project Manager Phil Stoker collaborated closely with the event’s technical producers Production North, specifically their Sound Supervisor Andrew ‘Baggy’ Robinson and Production Manager Sarah Hollis.

The schedule followed the format of a large-scale live TV show, kicking off at 4pm and running until 10:30pm with an average between-band changeover time of two minutes, the shortest being 30 seconds.

The front hangs comprised 16 L-Acoustics K1 speakers, run in conjunction with side hangs of 15 V-DOSC and an upstage hang of six Kudo. There were two delay hangs of 10 deep K1s, with KARAs used for stage front fills.

16 L-Acoustics SB28 subs per side were stacked four high, arranged in cardioid mode and end-fire configuration.

The system also utilised numerous Adlib passive fill speakers to cover a plethora of under-stage people lifts and backstage areas, and to generally aid the cueing process.

KARA fills were also positioned at the rear of the FOH tower to cover the area behind the stage above FOH position which was new for this year, together with two small stages behind FOH and closer to the edge of the field-of-play.

The L-Acoustics speakers were all powered by L-Acoustics LA8 amps running on an L2 Network Manager. Labgruppen PLM 10k and 20ks were used to drive the monitor speakers and various backstage fills.

Control and processing was done using the Lake LM44 and LM26 system running Dante protocol over fibre. The FOH LM 44s were set up as an 8×8 matrix that received both AES and analogue backup from the consoles.

Everyone bar Robbie Williams came through the presenter console, and all consoles were synced using an Apogee Big Ben Master Word clock. The LM 26s at the stage end distributed the signals to the various zones of the sound system.

The two rear stages (left and right) had their own separate FOH position with its own RF and Digico SD10 console, which was 430 milliseconds away from the main left and rig K1 hangs. The SD10 had an SD rack for all local inputs, and another SD rack at the main FOH position was in its fibre loop.

This enabled all signals to and from that stage to remain digital, and also supplied a broadcast split for that console.

With these new stages, the back of the stadium floor had to be well covered as what is often a more sparsely populated area of the venue was a prime location for watching the action on these additional stages. To achieve this, the focuses of the K1 arrays were carefully adjusted to move energy into these spaces.

For front of house (FOH) consoles Adlib supplied two Avid Profiles run as an A/B line system, plus a third one for the presenter desk. Robbie Williams’ FOH engineer Nick Allen brought in his own customised Avid Profile and Taylor Swift’s engineer brought in a DiGiCo SD7 to mix her performance.

The Shout system was mixed via a Soundcraft Si Compact coupled with a Compact Stage Box at FOH. The Shout system provided communication to patch personnel and all consoles, including the two broadcast trucks. Expanding the Si with the Compact Stage Box also facilitated the use of this small console to back up the presenter console.

The challenges of making it run smoothly and seamlessly on the day – a Thursday morning get in, where everything had to be up and running 24 hours later for inspections, followed by a Sunday show – lay in meticulous planning and advancing.

The first emails were exchanged in January and soon after, CAD files of the design and layout were drawn up and updated constantly with Sarah Hollis, leaving nothing to chance.

While Szabo looked after all the system related parts of the equation, Marc Peers took care of coordinating and advancing everything at the stage end, including mic lists, stage plots and show files. With over 170 radio frequencies to manage, the advance planning was critical. Dave Kay worked closely with Sennheiser’s technical team Tim Sherratt and Mark Saunders to facilitate the requests of every artist.