The Rabbit Hole / Bayfront stage at the Ultra Music Festival–the largest stage at the event–sported D.A.S. loudspeakers for its PA. Miami, FL (May 6, 2008)–For the dance music crowd, there’s no bigger party thank the annual Ultra Music Festival–the biggest electronic music festival in the U.S. This year’s edition marked the 10th anniversary of the event, held at the end of March in Miami’s oceanfront Bicentennial Park as part of the Winter Music Conference.
This year’s festival featured over 200 performing artists, DJs and producers and was spread across 14 stages. Multiple rental houses and tour supply firms were called to provide sound services, including Miami’s High Intensity Sound, Interface Sound & Productions and Roxy Productions. Together, the three firms ran sound for four of the festival’s key stage areas.
Running sound for the NewTimes and Eco Village stages, the High Intensity Sound crew found themselves immersed in the world of the modern DJ. High Intensity Sound owner/operator Eric Luis reports, “These stages were focused on a wide variety of DJ performances. On the NewTimes stage, the emphasis was on the local DJ scene while the Eco Village stage had a combination of national and international artists.”
The primary SR system for the NewTimes stage consisted of four D.A.S. Audio Aero 28A self-powered line arrays and four CA-215A self-powered subwoofers per side, all ground stacked under a tent. A pair of Aero 182A subwoofers placed in the middle, lower front of the stage area further reinforced the low end. Stage monitoring chores were assigned to a pair of SML-15A low profile, powered staged monitors.
At the Eco Village stage, the High Intensity Sound team flew six D.A.S. Aero 28As per side and ground-stacked four CA-215A subwoofers beneath each cluster. Like the NewTimes setup, a pair of D.A.S. Aero 182A subwoofers further reinforces the low end, while a pair of SML-15A stage monitors was made available to the DJs.
A Mackie 1204-VLZ Pro mixer was deployed at each FOH position. “We didn’t need large mixers,” noted Luis, “because the DJs gave us left-right stereo feeds. These two stages were positioned back to back, so I was able to monitor both areas.”
Powersoft amplification was well represented at the festival with 18 K Series K10, K8 and K6 digital amps. “Powersoft K amplifiers did a great job during the Ultra Music Show,” said Ramon Franco, tech support for DAS Audio in Latin America. “These are really excellent amplifiers, performing consistently especially at 2 ohms in an environment of more than 100.000 people. We got lots of absolutely positive feedback from our customers about the system.”
At the BackBeat stage, Interface Sound & Productions was holding court for a combination of DJ and high-end Electronica artists. The Interface Sound crew flew eight D.A.S. Aero 38A line arrays per side and placed 20 Aero 218A powered subs across the lower front stage area. Depending upon the type of performance taking place, performers had access to as many as six D.A.S. CA-28As for on-stage sidefills and eight SML-15A stage monitors.
The microphone arsenal for the BackBeat stage performers included several Shure SM57 and SM58 mics. Shure SM81 and AKG D 112 condenser mics were also available. A 48-channel Crest Audio Century Series GTX console resided at FOH and loudspeaker processing was handled by a BSS Soundweb 9088iis networked signal processor.
Along with the excitement, SPL levels also ran high, as Ralph Alvarez, owner of Interface Sound, explained, “With the huge crowds, the decibel readings were practically off the chart; last year, the readings were in the 114-118 dB range. This year, the city of Miami made a conscious effort to get a handle on the situation. Every hour, a Department of Health meter reader came by the stages, monitored the SPL level, and enforced a 105-106 dB maximum.”
Roxy Productions owner Ulises Otero agreed with Alvarez. “Sound pressure levels were very high-deafening loud,” said Otero, “and yet the crowd loved it that way.”
The Rabbit Hole / Bayfront stage were one and the same and had a variety of live acts, including Electronica/House music artists Rabbit in the Moon, Sasha and Digweed, BT and Benny Benassi. On the festival’s second day, this stage assumed the Bayfront name and offered performances by DJs, dancers and other artists.
Here, the Roxy Production team flew eight D.A.S. Aero 48 line arrays per side and placed 32 LX-218 subwoofers across the lower front stage area. Compact 2 loudspeakers were used as sidefills, while six SML-12A stage monitors were available. Ramon Franco mixed FOH on a Yamaha MC7L-48 and used a Dolby Lake processor for mains loudspeaker processing along with Powersoft amplifiers to drive the system. A Ramsa DA7 digital console and BSS EQ’s at monitor world handled six mixes plus stereo sidefills.
Reflecting on the festival after its close, Russell Faibisch, founder/director, and executive producer for the Ultra Music Festival, offered a closing thought. “This year’s festival had a terrific talent lineup and, with upwards of 70,000 music enthusiasts, crowd turnout was everything we had hoped for. I’d like to thank all the people who pitched in to make it come together. They did a great job. It was a lot of hard work, but it was also a lot of fun.”