Every summer, Dutch-language broadcaster Q-Music – normally based in Vilvoorde – moves its operations to Ostend beach. In July and August, from 10am until 11pm the station broadcasts live from its ‘Beach House’ studio – and hosts free concerts (‘Sunset Concerts’) as the sun sets over the North Sea. One of this year’s Sunset Concerts, by Oscar and the Wolf (pictured), attracted over 20,000 visitors, illustrating its impact and popularity.
“We have grown from ‘jolly camp-fire guitar on the beach’-type concerts with minimal amplification or FOH to live concerts attracting an average of 8,000 people,” explains Rudi Wynants, project manager for Q-Music parent company Medialaan Radio. “Six years ago […] we started to bring in full band and dance performances, and when we invited Milk Inc. to play a Sunset Concert in 2013 before an audience of 12,000, things became more sophisticated: We had to put in place an bigger open-air sound system, mixing consoles…”
This year’s Q-Beach House featured live music on the menu every day: alongside the Sunset Concerts, the station invited artists to perform unplugged ‘Q-Beach Live’ concerts. “Until last year we built a sound system for each of the eight open-air concerts in July and August,” continues Wynants, “but with this year’s daily concerts, the Friday night DJ sets and five Sunset shows we were looking for another, more permanent solution. [As we are] located right on the beach in Belgium’s premiere seaside resort, we had to [be aware of] neighbourhood noise disturbance; in order to cover a spacious open-air site like ours it would require a lot of SPL power with a stacked speaker solution.”
Wynants decided to install a ‘club system’ configuration, placing speakers throughout the Beach House site. This reduced overall SPL levels while offering a clear, immersive sound, offering the best possible reduction in noise leakage to nearby seaside apartments.
Having worked with Bose’s 802-series speakers previously, Wynants opted for a combination of 11 802 boxes, four Bose RoomMatch RMU208 speakers and nine weather-resistant Bose Panaray MB12 bass module subs. “The combination of the Bose 802’s sound reproduction and weather-resistant characteristics was ideal for the open-air location,” he says. “We also had a RoomMatch RMU208-equipped 5 x 10 Brustor tent with a second small stage to be used in case of bad weather. In this shelter the Bose RoomMatch RMU208 speakers are used.”
The main sound system is steered by five Bose PowerMatch PM8500N network amplifiers, with one DiGiCo SD9 at FOH. Another SD9 console was used in the production room for the broadcast mix, with an additional SD8 brought in for big concerts.
FOL Sound & Vision, a Bose ‘pro partner’, handled the configuration and installation of the Bose system.
For open-air Sunset Concerts by Kensington, Stan van Samang, Oscar and the Wolf and Nielson, Q-Music hired extra gear: one L-Acoustics SB18 and nine KARAs flown each side, plus nine L-Acoustics SD28 subs clustered in the centre, left and right of the stage. The L-Acoustics kit, provided by Q-Music’s technical partner Soundfield, was powered by L-Acoustics LA8 amplifiers.
As with the station’s main studio in Vilvoorde, the Beach House mobile studio – located in a boat on the beach – this year used a Studer OnAir 3000 console with a Dalet Radio Suite production and play-out system. “Signal transmission to the main on-air studio went over [telecom provider] Belgacom’s Explore network, mostly over IP by using a Prodys Prontonet encoder,” Wynants explains. “As a back-up we used a second Mayah CENTAURI encoder via the ISDN network, allowing us to combine a twin ISDN link-up via an APTX 256kb audio link. The boat’s roof served as a concert stage.”
In addition to Q-Beach House’s new radio/audio technology, Wynants underlines that its video coverage has also grown organically. This year’s summer stint was captured by 11 cameras – and seven more during events – streaming on the station’s website and cable TV networks in Flanders. “We also made use of two Q-Ball remote weather-proof cameras, offering 360° images from the stage or the site,” he adds.
With the station undergoing a major rebranding for the ‘back to school’ period starting on 1 September, Q-Beach House also provided an ideal opportunity to put everything in place for the new-look Q-Music in Vilvoorde.