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Field Day 2019’s d&b system at The Drumsheds ‘performed above expectations’

This year’s Field Day festival featured a selection of innovative acts, including Skepta, Jorja Smith and The Black Madonna, and was held over two days at The Drumsheds, an all new north London venue, with Capital Sound providing audio for the three main stages. Simon Duff dropped by and sent back this report

The Drumsheds is a groundbreaking new venue in Tottenham, set across 10 acres of outdoor space and four large interlinking warehouses with an overall capacity of over 10,000 punters. Part of the highly ambitious Broadwick Live company, it is now the biggest music warehouse venue in the capital and will be putting on innovative work with state-of-the art production. Previously, Field Day festival took place in Hackney’s Victoria Park and Herne Hill’s Brockwell Park.

Capital Sound has supplied audio for Field Day festival since 2012, this year marking its seventh outing. A d&b audiotechnik J System line array was the PA of choice for both the Printworks Room, the main warehouse space, and the main outdoor stage. David Preston was project manager for Capital Sound – he is also an FOH and monitor engineer, with regular clients including country artist Cam, Pixie Lott and – this summer – a certain Mark Ronson. Summarising the main challenges for Field Day 2019, Preston told PSNEurope: “As a new venue The Drumsheds looks set to become a hugely exciting venture. Field Day 2019 was its first test. I started work on the festival in early March this year with a site visit with Capital’s senior project manager Robin Conway, to evaluate acoustics and logistics. Broadwick Live stipulated from the outset that they wanted a d&b system in both the main room and outdoor stage. With that choice made early, the work flow was relatively straight forward but very well planned.”

Using the d&b ArrayCalc simulation software, Preston calculated PA requirements and loudspeaker hang points for the J System, adding: “Using ArrayCalc allows me to significantly reduce set up and tuning time and allows for precise initial simulations when planning installations. For Field Day, the calculations were pretty much spot on and things sounded really precise once the venue set up was complete.”

The main outdoor stage, which saw Skepta top the bill on day one and Jorja Smith headline on day two, featured a PA comprised of 12 d&b J8 and two d&b J12 per side with 15 d&b B22 subs used on the ground in front of the stage. Eight d&b Y7s were deployed for front fills. All were driven by a total of 26 d&b D80 amps along with two d&b DS10 processors. For on-stage monitoring, two d&b J subs with d&b V8s per side as side fills and 14 d&b M2 wedges were the order of the day. For PA processing, an Outline Newton was used. Preston commented: “It’s Outline’s new system processor. It is easy to use and has amazing WFIR filters, and I really like the sample rate conversion on it.”

System tech and mixing FOH on the main stage was Chris Whybrow using a Avid S6L 24 C console running at 96kHz with Waves Soundgrid and plugins available. “It’s a fantastic sounding, detailed console and very easy to use,” Whybrow said. “The surface layout has been so well thought out by Avid. The overall stereo image at Field Day 2019 was wide and powerful, in my opinion. Some of the evening headline acts used their own engineers, who brought along show files. Even if the engineers are from a Profile background they can load that show file up on an S6L. A few of the acts were quite simple and DJ based as well as band line ups. The maximum input count at FOH was around 40. Microphones used on the main outdoor stage included eight Shure UR2 hand-held and eight Shure PSM 1000 IEM units. Monitor world duties were over seen by Sander Van Laere who mixed on a Yamaha CL5. Other engineers working on the Main Outdoor stage were PA and stage techs Finbarr Neenan and Tommy Bradshaw.”

In the Printworks Room, which featured superstar DJ The Black Madonna, headline day two, the PA line up was forced to compete with a far more challenging acoustic environment. The room is a former factory site used by the British Oxygen Company for manufacturing and Field Day 2019 was the first chance to see how it would cope with a new rave-inspired atmosphere. Preston added: “The room is similar acoustic-wise to the likes of Alexandra Palace, London, with a large high roof structure to contend with. We wanted the sound to be close and not dictated by the long reverb time. So, we had plenty of concerns pre show and drapes were used. No one had ever done a show there. I am more than happy to say that the d&b system performed above expectations, providing even coverage and a warm, powerful sound throughout the room. Broadwick Live were delighted pretty much from the first time they heard the PA fired up.”

The main hang in the Printworks Room comprised of 10 d&b J8 per side plus two J12s per side. Subs ground stacked in front of the stage were 12 d&b SL subs with V7s and T10s used as front fills. For the delay hangs positioned half way down the room, six d&b V8 and two v12s per side were used. Ground stacked towards the back of the room were two J subs and four V8 per side. Processing was conducted via two Lake LM 44s. Mixing at FOH was Tim Miller working on a DiGiCo SD10-24 console. Miles Jarrett was on monitor duties using a Yamaha QL5. Capital Sound provided all the DJ mix equipment, including Pioneer CDJ 2000s, DJM 900s and 1210 turntables. FOH tech was Alex Legge.

The third stage called The Boiler Room was a small club style room, where Preston deployed a Meyer
Sound Leopard ground stacked solution. System tech/ engineer Oliver Fallon mixed at FOH on a Yamaha CL5, with monitors by Harry Garcia on a Yamaha PM5D console with Martin Audio LE 1500 Active stage wedges deployed. PA stage tech was Toby Burrow and crew chief for the audio team across all stages was Kevin Smith.

Preston concluded: “Given that this was the venue’s first major test, all of us, including Broadwick Live, involved were delighted. We had no issues with off site noise levels that were monitored by a third party. The Drumsheds looks set to host some of the world’s most important and cutting edge EDM events in the coming years. Capital Sound hope to look forward to being part of that.”

Capital Sound has provided for many festivals this summer, including Kew The Music at Kew Gardens, BST Hydepark, and top Hungarian Festivals.

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