In less than a decade, the three-day Tomorrowland festival has evolved from a local dance event, hosted by dance clubs and DJs each having their own stage, to a major date in the international dance calendar and the biggest event of its kind in the world.
Twenty-five planes full landed at Zaventem airport – some 35% of the audience came from abroad. With headliners such as Carl Cox, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia and Dave Clarke, plus the remarkable Bonzaï All Stars, and over 220 other DJs, the huge festival site offered a strong billing.
Four of the stages were equipped with Funktion One sound systems, including a European premiere for the brand’s Infrabass subs. All of the Funktion One gear was supplied by Belgian rental and sales company SoundSystem.
“One of our clients hosting a stage specifically asked for a Funktion One system three years ago,” says Lieven Pillaert, who, together with Tia Broodcoorens, launched SoundSystem in 2001. “The organisers then asked us for a quote, resulting in a Funktion One rig on four stages simultaneously.”
Most of the stages at Tomorrowland have DJ sets or electronic music with only a few artists performing live with instruments. “Although Funktion One is an established brand in the DJ business, I believe that their performance goes beyond that – we use the systems for live concerts both in clubs and on festivals,” says Broodcoorens. “We get very positive reactions even from smaller events where speech intelligibility is crucial and we don’t have enough room to bring too many sub cabinets.”
Before investing in Funktion One as main system, Pillaert and Broodcoorens travelled to trade fairs and exhibitions to attend demo sessions with various brands. “I was looking for speakers that sound good,” Pillaert continues, “and compared to other systems, Funktion One really stands out, not only for the pristine sound quality but also because of the company policy. When the engineers at Funktion One assemble a speaker cabinet, they assume that the sound itself should be top class and doesn’t need any digital correction whatsoever afterwards. That’s why the Funktion One amplifier racks have only minimal processing on board.”
At Tomorrowland, SoundSystem supplied Funktion One FOH and monitor speakers, flown or stacked, amplifiers and consoles.
In total, Pillaert’s inventory across the four stages consisted of 16 F121 and 24 F218mk2, two 218 Infrabass units and one double Infrahorn speaker for the FOH sub end, plus 36 Resolution 5 Touring, Res 4 Touring and Res 2 plus DJ monitors Res 2 and Res1.5 as FOH top speakers. In addition, Pillaert put in place a Res 3 system combined with a bass F121 or F118 speaker and six delay enclosures.
The speakers were powered by 32 F1 amplifiers (E45 and E90), all processed by the company’s XO4 audio management systems.
“The big challenge for any sound engineer is to reproduce exactly the sound the artist wants the public to hear - and it requires a good system like Funktion One to bring that message across,” comments Pillaert.
Each of the four stages catered for by SoundSystem is equipped with a main console (either Soundcraft MH3 or Allen & Heath ZED 12fx). Although the main signal from the stage is mostly quite steady, Pillaert is convinced that minimal control with a mixing desk is sometimes necessary, also because throughout the festival, the organisers wanted to maintain the 102dB sound threshold limit. “Sound level control is they key issue, by installing a main console we avoid EQ-ing to avoid phase-shifting in the sound.”
For the B2B/Daily Dubstep/Ketaloco stage, SoundSystem made use of the Funktion One 218 Infrabass and Infrahorn. “They extend the bass delivery of the system, giving an extra 12dB on the extra low frequencies – the Infrabass speaker and horn make you really feel the subs, this goes beyond the audible. This stage with heavy drum ’n’ bass and dubstep music simply required the Infrabass 218 set – and as far as I know we’re the only rental company in continental Europe to offer this configuration,” advocates Pillaert. “In addition, to ‘freshen up’ the high frequencies, we’ve flown two AX88 extra high frequency delay speakers, to complete the set,consisting of six Resolution 5, four F218 mk2 bass, the two double Infrabass 218 and one double Infrahorn.
Elsewhere on the Tomorrowland site, Bas Rijsdijk’s and Emil Jongmans’ Noiz Boyz PA crew provided a L-Acoustics inventory system from Phlippo Showlights in Belgium, including 96 K1 boxes, 102 SB28 and 64 SB218 subwoofers, 56 V-DOSC and 72 KARA boxes, powered by LA8 amplifiers with processing by Lake LM 26 hardware for crossover, delay and EQ functions.
Further assignments for SoundSystem with Funktion One kit this summer included the Lost Theory festival in Croatia, Mysteryland in Holland and the Qontinent weekend festival in Belgium.