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On Point - Yanni's Jordan Festival Performance


Triad is used to justifying its use of point source systems over line arrays, but it took a little extra persuasion with the sound engineers during Yanni's Jordan Festival performance.

MANY ARGUE THAT THE BATTLE BETWEEN LINE ARRAY and point source loudspeaker systems has been won by line arrays. Attend a concert anywhere and it will more than likely be reinforced by a line array setup. Line arrays are arguably easier to hang and are said to achieve an ‘adequate level’. Therefore, line array is deemed by many to be the industry standard. So, when a rental company, such as Triad Technical Services, opts to exclusively work with point source systems, such as those from KV2 Audio, it finds itself often having to educate the sound engineers at an event of the advantages that those systems deliver over their line array cousins.

This was no different when it recently when the Triad supplied the full technical setup at the Jordan Festival, which comprised three concerts taking place over a week-and-a-half period with an eclectic mix of performers taking to the stage at the Amman Citadel, upon the highest hill in Amman and overlooking the city. The opening night was dedicated to the singing of Lebanese composer Marcel Khalifeh, while Turkish dance troupe The Fire of Anatolia performed during the second event. The headlining act closing out the festival during the third and final night was Yanni. 

Triad has provided the technical setup for the organiser, Friends of Jordan Festivals, on a regular basis, including the prior two editions of The Jordan Festival. "We have a very good track record with them and they know that we deliver high-quality sound and lights for their events," says Triad’s general manager, Amjad Marar. "They stage events of a high quality for international artists. They know that we can match the quality as far as the setup goes."

Triad made the decision to exclusively work with KV2 Audio after Mr Marar heard the Czech manufacturer’s VHD point source systems in action. "We came about working with KV2 Audio when they first launched the VHD system", Mr. Marar confirms. "We decided to work with KV2's point source technology exclusively and to educate people on the benefits of working with it. We were used to using line array systems in our rental stock, which we worked with on a regular basis until we heard the VHD system, which was a game-changer."

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Putting the VHD system to use for the festival was never in doubt for Triad, but it did raise queries from Yanni's FOH sound engineer and tour director, Anthony Stabile. This proved a bigger obstacle to overcome than that of the outdoor and historically significant hilltop venue.

"The biggest challenge was to get Yanni's team to accept a point source system", recalls Mr. Marar. "We had to educate them and this is where Andy from KV2 came in handy. They talked to him and he explained the benefits of using a point source system versus a line array". 

"Amjad called me out of the blue with an urgent request to contact Anthony Stabile, as initially, Anthony and his team had expressed some scepticism on the ability of a single point source system to project and cover the expected number of devoted fans," remembers Andy Austin-Brown, technical projects director at KV2. "It became immediately clear that whilst he was no stranger to point source system advantages, citing that he liked the idea of a more direct path of signal chain from electronics to transducers, and with a discreet lack of processor intervention, he willingly admitted that having used a very well respected brand of line array for the last 10 years, he now found himself more worried about common issues of coverage, dispersion and output, assuming that audio technologies had only really advanced in the line array domain." 

"Anthony insisted that sound quality for his artist was the number one priority,’ he continues. "I explained that the VHD2.0 system is more than just a point source design with the technologies involved, including faster settling time electronics for higher resistance to feedback and superior control over transducers, low “q horn” designs with ultra low distortion factors and lack of interaction effects between multiple units all enabled the system to do ably what he feared was not conceivably possible. At the end of the conversation, Anthony committed to going ahead with the system and I then proposed a system design based on his requirements and expectations in conjunction with Triad and Anthony."

That system, which Triad supplied for all three of the festival’s events comprised four VHD2.0 loudspeakers, flown two per side, a pair of VHD1.0's serving as down-fills, four ES1.0 units for out-fills and four EX12's providing front-fill. To take care of the lows, four VHD2.16 subs were flown, while eight VHD4.18 and eight VHD2.16 cabinets were ground stacked. Four VHD2000 and four EPAK2500R control and amplification units were implemented and four VHD3200's powered the subwoofers. A pair of SDD3 Super Digital Delay Line processors were also deployed. 

"The beauty of the system is that it was configured with such ease. You just have to get the height and the aim right and then you have everything in place. It's not like a line array where you need to calculate exactly how you're going to angle every loudspeaker. It's so simple", confirms the Triad general manager. "FOH and monitor mixes were handled by two Avid Venue Profile mixing consoles. The stage monitor network was an all Sennheiser IEM system. The microphones were supplied with the backline that Yanni brought in from America. There was a variety of Sennheiser and Shure mics". 

Mr. Marar further explains what he sees as the advantages of point source systems over a line array solution: ‘When you use a line array system, the speakers are lined up in a vertical fashion. A line array’s natural frequency response before processing shows a continual roll off of high frequencies from 2kHz upwards due to cancellation caused by the proximity of the numerous high frequency drivers, so you will need to do some equalisation to correct this. This boost in gain on the highs lowers the system’s overall headroom. With point source you don’t have that problem because sound is delivered from one source."

"Line arrays also present timing issues, for example if you have eight speakers all firing the same sound, the people in the front get the sound sooner than those at the back", Mr. Marar adds. "With point source, the system is designed to deliver so much power, so much clarity and so much dynamic range that it can cater for massive audiences without any time shift problems between speakers."

Once everybody was onboard with the proposed sound solution, the next challenge that the team from Triad needed to overcome was that presented by the venue. ‘We supplied everything, not just the sound system, but the lighting, trussing, the riders and the video LED screens and the production team with an OB van. The production team had six HD video cameras shooting the show. We even provided the stage! And fireworks for the display that concluded the festival", notes Mr. Marar. "The space is tight and the terrain isn't level, so that gave us a hard time when we set up the stage and the grandstand. We had to fit in 4.000 seats, which was quite an accomplishment in a very limited space."

"The venue was chosen because of the significance of the location and because it sits on top of the hill, overlooking the old city of Amman, which is quite spectacular at night," he continues. "And Yanni is known to have played a lot of historical sites, such as the Acropolis, the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal, so this was in line with the kind of concerts that Yanni puts on. The Citadel is the site of ancient Rabbatch-Ammon, with history dating back to the Bronze Age, with the Temple of Hercules and the Ummayad Palace stil standing to this day."

"Right behind the stage you have a hill drop and we were right up to the edge. At the other end, where the last row of seats was, you have the street", Mr. Marar adds. "We really had to maximise the space". With this being the case, the point source system proved its benefit, being that only a small number of units need to be deployed to provide coverage across the site. The only requisite was that the speakers were aimed precisely.

"It's in the name, "point source". So if it's pointed in a manner that does not cover the seated area, then you've got a problem," Mr. Marar states. "The seating level rose about 12m from the fron to the back, so the speakers needed to be pointed upwards towards the furthest seating location, which the system needs to be on axis to hit exactly. The sound rolls off a little bit, giving you smooth coverage, meaning that for people sitting throughout the venue - front, middle and back - the sound is the same. Of course you have a little more bass energy in the front. When we had the concert, we had to roll down the volume on the amp, operating at -3dB, because it was way too powerful for the sapce and that's with just two speakers per side". 

While the point source sound solution was used for all three events, the same couldn’t be said for the lighting and stage setup. "During he planning phase, we had to take into account the requirements of the groups that were playing. We had a singer with a band, then we had the dance troupe. The whole setup had to accommodate their needs in terms of stage and truss height as well as the LED screens. We had to make some compromises between all three, but the most important requirements were of course from Yanni, so that set the standard for the whole festival", Mr. Marar discloses. "In terms of lighting, each artist had their own requirement. We had the roof truss, so that came down to accommodate their individual requirements for lighting and monitors".

The lighting rig, designed by Bud Horowitz, employed for Yanni was controlled by a High End Systems Hog 4 console with wings and included 24 ROBE BMFL wash, 28 Martin Mac Viper AirFX, 28 JB-Lighting JBLED A7 and 22 PR Lighting XR 200 5R Beam moving heads. These were complemented by four MFL 1.000W fixtures, six LED 18x10W par cans, 16 LED bars and 15W COB LEDs, four Molefay Blinders, four Super Trouper Follow spots and four Smoke Factory Tour-II hazers.

"The sold-out Yanni concert was a huge success", reflects Mr. Marar. "We received positive comments from a lot of people praising the sound in particular. Everyone in the audience was raving about the sound and, most importantly, Yanni's team was impressed". 

"The VHD sound system performed perfectly", enthuses Mr. Stabile. "I was very surprised at how crystal clear and powerful it was". In addition to Mr. Stabile, the sound crew included Tommy Sterling at FOH, Ryan Trefethen on monitors and Ernesto Corti as the project and stage manager, who also served as the video director. 

With the festival concluded and the point source sound system having impressed, Mr. Marar and the team at Triad are as confident as ever in the abilities of the KV2 system.

"Ever since we started working with the VHD systems, we have educated a lot of sound engineers", concludes Mr. Marar. "It's the same with many sound engineers we work with for the first time. They typically ask for a line array system because that’s what they know, but when they hear the point source system, their viewpoint soon changes".

Source: Pro Audio MEA



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