This summer saw the City of Cork Symphony Orchestra (CCSO) at Cork’s legendary Musgrave Park for a blockbuster concert, writes Michael Burns. Superstars Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins and Spanish tenor José Carreras performed full sets with the CCSO, with Outline’s GTO C-12 also showing true star talent in tackling a tricky venue.
Dublin-based EQ Audio & Events has supplied events in Musgrave Park, a well-established fixture in Irish rugby, on previous occasions, but as production manager Shay Hannon found out, a new grandstand had been built over the winter months.
“We treated it like a new venue when commenced the design for this show,” says Hannon. “One of the main challenges was its proximity to residential properties – and ensuring that we had no audio spill over at these properties. Thankfully, with Outline’s OpenArray 3D software package, this issue was able to be addressed in the advanced stage of the project and the system was exactly as predicted.”
Steven Carr, FOH for Katherine Jenkins for the past five years, certainly approved of the PA design. “The venue is primarily used as a sports ground but the production team made a decent attempt at turning it into a concert venue,” says Carr. “The main acoustic challenges were caused by the reflective nature of the grandstands themselves and the varying height at which the audience members were located, making coverage tricky.”
“We used twelve Outline GTO C-12 per side for the main left and right hangs, with some Outline Butterfly CDH-483 cabinets for fills,” Hannon explains. “Outfill hangs comprised of ten CDH-483s per side, with some shadow fills behind FOH mix, again, with CDH-483 cabs.”
“All the CDH-483s were powered with (Powersoft rebadged) Outline T7 amps, while the GTO C-12s were powered by the brand new Powersoft X8 amplifiers,” he adds.
EQ’s Outline kit had been supplied by CUK Audio in Glasgow, whose live sound brand manager Rich Soper was under no illusion why Hannon had gone with this choice for the PA.
“A very consistent and transparent sound was needed with a very even coverage and zero colouration,” says Soper. “That’s why EQ chose to deploy C12.”
“As usual it stunned everyone that heard it,” continues Soper. “The riggers love it as the integrated rigging system is a thing of beauty, it goes up incredibly quickly.”
“At 70kg per box you can get an awful lot of SPL hanging on a one-ton point for the smaller jobs,” he continues. “Considering its SPL is the same as ‘the market leading large format system’ but the size is much smaller and the physical size of the amps are so small, it greatly reduces set up times and transport costs.”
The Powersoft amps also proved to be a good choice.
“The new X Series amplifiers were amazing in terms of power output, ease of use – and much to the delight of the Site Manager – a huge saving in generator fuel,” says Hannon. “To be able to power 24 GTO and 16 GTO Subs, using six amplifiers in total, makes the X Series an essential tool for the touring market.”
“Even though we had used the system before in the same venue, it didn’t cease to amaze in terms of its performance,” he adds. “The vocal clarity and tone was second to none and the excellent HF throw and coverage of the the GTO C-12 stunned José Carreras’ FOH engineer, Peter Schneekloth.”
Indeed, Schneekloth, who has worked with José Carreras for 14 years, gave a one-word response – “perfect” – when asked how well the Powersoft X series amps worked with the Outline GTO C12 system.
“The system delivered a very good sound as a starting point, so I only had to make some phase-alignment and fine tuning of EQ,” says the engineer. “I just added my Lexicon PCM reverb plugin with an RME-Interface for orchestra and vocal reverb. I also had two custom-modified dbx376 valve preamps with de-essers.”
“The centre, frontfills, outfills and subs were mixed via separate auxes. Usually I prefer to do the main mix all by myself, but in Cork it was a big pleasure working together with Steven Carr.”
Carr had an Avid profile at FOH for Katherine Jenkins. “There was a Midas H3000 looking after onstage monitoring,” he adds. “We had d&b M4s as wedges and the vocal mics were all Schoeps mk4. When I arrived on the morning of the show I walked around and made some EQ and level adjustments using a combination of my ears and acoustic measurement software.”
Overall, Schneekloth said the coverage was “very even”.
“We had a grandstand at one side, with nothing on the other, so it was an asymmetric venue,” Schneekloth says, “And the grandstand was relatively big compared to the stalls area.”
“We made a few changes with the outfills for the grandstand, but the rest worked from the beginning very well,” he adds. “It was a great help to work with the engineers and technicians from EQ Audio, as well as the support of Francesco Ferretti from Outline.”
“The benefits of a system like the Outline I used are clear,” says Carr. “Good sound quality, good efficiency and plenty of headroom. All the guys onsite were very helpful and keen to make the show a success. I was very grateful for that.”