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Manchester Olympic parade’s big audio set up

This included the deployment of 78 x main d&b loudspeakers and 32 sub cabinets at the main stage location in Albert Square

A multi-site PA system was used in the Manchester City centre by tube UK to welcome home Team GB’s 2016 Olympic and Paralympic stars last month.

This involved the deployment of 78 x main d&b loudspeakers and 32 sub cabinets at the main stage location in Albert Square, plus another 35 speakers and 21 x subs which provided local sound systems for five relay LED screen positions at key strategic points along the Parade route.

The tube team of 19, led by Melvyn Coote, and worked solidly in shifts for 36 hours before the event.

Says Coote: “We were all intensely proud to be involved in this event and to help honour our Olympic heroes. The logistics, prep and planning were mind-boggling at times, the timeframe for such a massive and high profile event was exceptionally tight due to it being in some very public spaces at peak time! Everyone worked very hard and some long hours … but the teamwork and camaraderie were amazing”.

In Albert Square, a 60m wide by 8m deep stage was installed for the main ceremony – to accommodate all the Olympic Heroes in their teams. Crowds were warmed up by the Brythoniaid Welsh Male Voice Choir and later entertained by rousing performances from Kaiser Chiefs and singer Rebecca Ferguson.

The PA had to cover around 10,000 people in the main Square area, plus all those gathering nearer the back and to the sides. A major challenge was minimising the bleed into the mics to ensure the best possible quality audio for the broadcasts.

The main system comprised four flown loudspeaker arrays each of 6 x d&b V8s, hung behind the stage to maintain clear visual lines for the long camera shots and zoom-ins, and on top of 10m high PA masts that were integrated with the stage structure.

They were focused to only just start hitting the audience area on front of stage, to ensure that as little PA noise was slipping onto the stage mics. A neat row of d&b E6 speakers positioned along the stage lip provided in-fill for the very front rows of fans.

A Yamaha CL5 console provided the control, run in conjunction with a Yamaha Rio2334 at FOH and two onstage to give sufficient outputs to route everything needed out to the PA, broadcast studios, press, IEMs, etc. with around 55 outputs in total.

Meanwhile, the five relay screens were in four different key locations along the Parade route – with one pair running back-to-back. The sound systems were all made up with d&b V8s, V12s and V-SUBs driven by 19 x D12s.

In addition to Albert Square and the five relay screen areas, tube uk supplied a sound system for the last float in the Heroes Parade itself – designed and built by arts specialists Walk The Plank, the tube team installed four d&b Y7P speakers and 4 x Q-SUBS powered by 2 x D12s all running off a 5 kVA generator which was also part of the package.