Antony King, FOH engineer for pioneering electro rock icons Depeche mode, has hailed the performance of L-Acoustics’ K1 systems on the band’s current Spirit world tour, describing it as a “benchmark system that provides quick and easy rigging, accurate reproduction, balanced frequency response and incredible reliability makes an 11-month stadium tour a breeze”.
For the tour, which takes in 90 dates in stadia and arenas across the globe, King specified a main system comprised of 14 K1 per side with four K2 as downfills. Side hangs are a further 14 K1 plus six K2 downfills, to account for the throw distance needed and the large amount of vertical coverage required. There are a total of 46 KS28, with 12 of them per side flown next to the K1, whilst four hangs of 12 K1 are used for delays, all mixed via an SSL L500 Plus.
Depeche Mode’s set design always includes a thrust that sits to one side of the stage. Because of its asymmetrical construction and the position of camera platforms, there are restrictions to where the ground stacked subs can be placed.
The solution was to have 18 of the remaining KS28 configured as six stacks of three sitting in front of the stage, arrayed as a sub arc. Three ARCS per side are stacked on the outermost KS28 stack and four stacks of two Kara each on the innermost KS28, which are deployed as front fills. Two Kara per side are used for stage infill and, whilst the band are all on in ear monitors, a further two KS28 per side are sited on the stage to provide them with a little movement. Delays are four hangs of 12 K1.
“There was originally talk of flying some K1SB as well as the KS28,” said Terence Hulkes, FOH tech and crew chief. “However, because of rigging points and weight loadings, that wasn’t possible, but the flown KS28 spread the power around the venue better and keep it above the heads of audience. For overall low end and extra register the KS28 is amazing and it’s incredible how much the low end will travel.”
“K1 itself isn’t lacking in the low-end department, so in this instance we went for resolution rather than moving the air,” added senior systems technician Richard Trowe. “For the really trouser flapping stuff, the KS28 is the one to have. Antony wants consistency. He likes to have a similar volume at the furthest seat as at FOH and he likes to walk the arena from top to bottom to make sure he’s got that. That’s where the FIR filters and LA Network Manager really help; when you’re a distance away from FOH and you need to increase the HF with the air compensation, you can do it using a tablet. Obviously, we can’t always achieve perfectly even coverage, in these large stadiums but we get pretty close. For example, there were legal noise restrictions in Switzerland, but even there we had 0.7db difference between the front row and FOH and the same between FOH and the back of the arena, which is next to nothing.”
The tour is now heading over to the US. Brit Row will continue to provide sound for this, and all legs of the tour, which continues into 2018.