Established ten years ago, France’s three-day Hellfest is one of Europe’s leading hard rock and heavy metal festivals. Twin main stages with alternating performances provide a challenge for audio company Melpomen, but this year’s use of L-Acoustics K-series systems meant that every metal fan got head banging volume, but without missing a single note of the many guitar solos!
Melpomen has been involved with Hellfest since it began and its predecessor, Furyfest, before that. This is the first year that the company chose to use L-Acoustics for the main stage, which featured performances by contemporary bands, including Rammstein, Volbeat and Within Temptation, alongside elder statesmen of the genre like Black Sabbath, Foreigner and Slayer.
“We decided to move to L-Acoustics because it is a very well-known brand and very popular with artists and rental companies throughout the world,” says Melpomen president Thierry Tranchant. “L-Acoustics systems are a standard of the industry, so we were sure that all the bands would know the system and be happy with it.”
The adjacent twin stages are set up with a PA system each and both are in use all the time, regardless of which stage an act is performing on. Working alongside Thierry were Pierre Tranchant, Samuel Birais and Cédric Bernard, who manage the project using L-Acoutics Soundivison and LA Network Manager and designed the audio network.
The system featured four main arrays of 12 K1, 6 K1 Sub and 2 K2 each for each stage, two further arrays of 20 K2 to cover the extreme left and right of the arena, with four V-DOSC delay towers of 20 V-DOSC and 24 KARA for infills and a VIP delay system of 8 Kara. The system was powered and controlled by 90 LA8 amplifiers.
Melpomen also provided two additional sidefills per stage, comprising a total of 24 K2 and eight KS28 subs, powered by 12 LA12X amplifiers.
“We needed to be sure that the sound was loud and even enough for the main stage audience, but contained within the arena,” says Thierry. “The arena itself presents a challenge, because it isn’t level and so we had to find the ideal flying height for the PA. On top of that, the common front of house position is in the centre of the two stages, so deciding a common rule for the stereo isn’t easy!”
Despite the challenges, with the assistance of Soundvision, Thierry and his team were able to design a system which overcame them all.
“Soundvision was an essential tool. Without it, it would have been impossible to design the system,” notes Thierry. “Once we had established the design, I asked Fred Bailly, application engineer, touring at L-Acoustics to check it and give us his opinion. As usual he was very friendly and gave a lot of attention to the project. In just two phone calls, our design was agreed and I was happy that we had got it right.
“The festival has a sound level limit of 105dBA Leq(10) at any point on the public area, so the coverage needs to be very even. It was perfect, with less than 1dBA of delta between the barriers at the front of the stage and the FOH position, and never more than 3dBA of difference anywhere in the audience arena.
“Both we and the festival organisers were very happy with the results. The coverage was what we expected, the system was powerful, the tonal ‘colour’ of the sound perfect, with the low frequencies really coherent. It was exactly what was needed.”