d&b survives big freeze

Copyright HTB

27 May 2004

Japan - Staged on and around the outdoor ice rink of the Sapporo 1972 Winter Olympics, Toyota Big Air was a snowboard ski-jump event with a real difference. Dangerous sports like snowboard jumping are closely associated with youth culture, so it was no surprise the event was augmented by an outdoor festival stage where top Japanese punk skater band Shaka Labit performed to the many fans who came to watch the jump-offs. Throughout the event the ever-swelling crowd were kept entertained by leading Japanese DJs, some lively commentary, and the occasional piece of advertising.

Despite the crowd's huge size, a PA system comprising just 12 of d&b audiotechnik's new Q1 loudspeakers (six per side) and eight Q-SUBs (four per side) was used to cover the crowd (80m deep). Stefan Goertz from d&b's Application Support (who supported Hokkaido Kyoriz Co Ltd on this, their first trial event with the new Q-Series) commented: "It wasn't covering such a large crowd that proved a challenge. The big problems were the extremely low temperatures and the snow."

Conversely, crowd coverage proved less of a challenge than originally envisaged. Goertz continued: "The main system needed to be loud enough for the audience close to the ramp, where they were at their most noisy and shouted a great deal but we also needed to retain intelligibility in the grandstand at the rear and originally installed a small delay system to cover this area. However with levels close to the ramp being so high we found that by making physical adjustment to the main system array we were able to ensure that we covered both areas properly, without using the delays."

To give some idea of the challenges - load-in was two days prior to the main event, with extreme cold conditions. "Because of the cold we wanted to keep the system on all the time once it was up," explained Goertz. "There was no habitation near the place, so we thought putting a low level pink noise through the system would keep the voice coils warm and prevent condensation, in the D12 amplifiers as well. Unfortunately, for some reason, the power had to be turned off each night so this was not possible. We discovered our concerns were unnecessary, we warmed up the system each morning, playing increasingly loud recorded music through it, and suffered no problems. It would appear the D12 is as stable as the old P1200A amplifier; pretty good for a complex digital device." Mr. Oikawa, head of the Sound Department at Kyoriz, stated he was very satisfied with the better speech intelligibility and sufficient sound pressure level compared to the PA system they'd used for events in previous years.

Weather for the event day proved benign, "only 1.5 mm of snow fell the night before." The skies stayed clear, winds were low, and the crowd and organizers all expressed deep satisfaction, especially with this tiny and unobtrusive system. Load out proved less easy, but that's another story.

As for the load out story, snow returned to Sapporo immediately after the event finished, 30 cm in the first two hours, closing the local airport for two days. The amplifiers and loudspeakers had to be chipped out of the ice by the resourceful Kyoriz crew, "but it still proved a great event for all concerned, the Kyoriz crew were outstanding." Concluded Goertz as he sat at home in front of a log fire drinking a reviving schnapps.

(Sarah Rushton-Read)

 

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