This article was first published by Lab.gruppen - Lake.
UK festival Download 2011 has once again provided over 70,000 music fans with three days of the best music from some of the top names in the rock world, including Def Leppard, Pendulum, System of a Down, Linkin Park and Alice Cooper.
Providing Download with its superior sound, leading UK company SSE
Audio were able to route the audio through a digital network thanks to the Dante™ compatibility available from the Lake LM 26, marking a first for the UK’s premier hard rock music festival.
Dante is a combination of software, hardware and network protocols, developed by Audinate with the objective of delivering uncompressed, multi-channel, low-latency digital audio over a standard Ethernet network. Dante is designed to have many advantages over traditional analogue audio distribution. Audio which is transmitted over analogue cables can be adversely affected by signal degradation due to electromagnetic interference, high-frequency attenuation, and voltage drop over long cable runs. Whereas with digital audio distribution over Dante, the audio arrives unaffected at the other side.
Nick Pain (L) and Simon Gladstone (R)
Simon Gladstone, Technical Manager at SSE, said: “The main thing that we were trying to achieve was to integrate everything into one system, and use one fibre backbone for all of the subsystems that make up the PA returns. Obviously, at no point did we want it to give us less features or flexibility than we have been used to, and ultimately, we want the system to have a superior sound quality. Being able to use the Dante has enabled us to achieve one part of that, and obviously using the Dante has meant that we didn’t need to have 150m of copper inserted into the signal path and degrading the quality.”
For the 3rd year running, SSE Hire used their L-Acoustics K1 line-array system, with a Dolby DLP linking all the desks at Front of House (FOH), with an LM 26 also at FOH handling the Dante transmission. Onstage, two LM 26s either side gave SSE the required analogue outputs feeding audio into the LA8 amplifiers. This allowed digital audio to be run via Dante down SSE’s own fibre optic network between FOH and stage, running analogue back into them as redundant back-up only. With a minimal amount of processing to achieve the desired sound, everything then ran through the main FOH system comprising of a hang of L’Acoustics K1 per side, including K1- SB elements, side hangs of K1 and stacked SB28 subs. V-DOSC was deployed as delay hangs, with SB28 subs and Kara modules providing front fill.
The use of LM 26, with the benefits of the Lake Processing and Dante that this brought, led many of those at Donnington to comment on the improved sound quality on-site, as Gladstone comments: “As soon as we switched it on, everyone noted the improved audio quality. As the weekend went on it became apparent that there was a lot more HF presence in the system, which you didn’t get with the analogue system. I can only put that down to a hundred metres of copper degrading the HF in the analogue domain.”
As well as allowing users to route the audio signal in a digital format, the LM 26 also provides a dual redundancy function, meaning that in the unlikely event of any failures of the digital signal, the LM 26 will automatically switch to analogue, a back-up factor that SSE Audio considered essential to have in place for such a major event such as Download.
Gladstone said: “We used an analogue back up system on the Chase and Status tour, but you would have had to physically repatch the wires. This is the first time we’d actually used it within the LM 26s themselves, and we are all really impressed at how quickly it switched to analogue when we pulled both fibres just to test it. It was literally less than half a second of audio lost and then it came back straight away.on the analogue system.. As with all new technology, until something is proven in the field its vital to be able to revert to something tried and tested, as in this business delivery is everything and this gave us the peace of mind we need.”
Nick Pain, the SSE System Engineer who ran the sound at Download this year, was also very impressed with the performance of the LM 26s units. He said: “Download 2011 is the best I have ever heard the system sound. The HF and overall presence is far better than we have previously had with long runs of analogue, and on Dante it is excellent. One other thing that I was impressed with was the redundant switch over. It’s reassuring knowing that there is an automatic backup transmission path in case things go wrong. In fact, a lot of commented on how good the sound was. Nothing is different in the system except the LM 26s.”
News Story: SSE and Lab.gruppen/Lake