BRITs live show comeback powered by redesigned sound setup from Britannia Row

High-end audio experts Britannia Row were behind the redesigned sound setup at last week’s return of the BRITs live show, after it was postponed from its usual slot in February. 

An audience of 4,000 – made up primarily of NHS key workers – gathered at London’s O2 for the BRITs 2021 live awards show on 11 May.

The limited capacity meant that a different approach was mapped out for the sound design. With no second stage, Britannia Row Technical Project Manager Josh Lloyd formulated an in the round system to suit the horseshoe stage design. 

“We wanted to reduce the amount of spill and deliver a more direct sound for the people watching in the room,” said Lloyd. “The fact that the floor space was relatively freed up meant that the performers were always placed behind the PA, and this made mixing somewhat easier.”

The L-Acoustics rig, which was tuned by System Engineer Sergiy Zhytnikov, comprised seven main arrays of K2 with KS28s behind the curve, augmented by three arrays of KARA and KS21s. Flown LA Amp racks were incorporated into the design and the floor deployment saw boxes of K2, KARA and X8 speakers in situ.

Lloyd explains: “Because we were positioned at the back of the venue, we mixed off the L-Acoustics X8 speakers rather than the main PA. Size really doesn’t matter when it comes to L-Acoustics products, as the quality and tonality has the same sonic signature, regardless of the size of the box.”

Arlo, The Weeknd and Dua Lipa were among the acts that performed live and were mixed by Lloyd.

For the monitors, a flipflop A-B system was used. “The O2 is never an easy room, even less so with just 4,000 people in it,” said monitor engineer Nico Antonietti, who was riding faders on one of two DiGiCo Quantum 7 consoles alongside Dan Ungaretti.

“Dan had built a show file for past editions of the event, so we adapted it, made changes according to the requests of each guest artist and saved the pre-sets,” said Antonietti. “Each artist had a snapshot in order to avoid loading different show files in during changeovers.” 

This protocol helped to minimise any potential contamination.

A symbolic return to live music for the UK music industry, the event was the first live indoor gig of its size in 14 months. The show was part of the UK government’s Events Research Programme, which is aimed at supporting the return of live events. 

Crew had to take Covid tests at least every 72 hours during the build and show while social distancing, masks and a strict hygiene system were also in place.

What’s more, each artist had a dedicated handheld microphone that wasn’t used by anyone else while headsets were fitted directly by the artists themselves.