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Yamaha’s Small LS9 Digital Console Delivers Huge Sound in “Festland”

Aug, 2009

It’s only rarely that municipal services get going with a bang. However, Hamburg’s brand new swimming temple, “Festland”, was filled with spectacular sound by a specialist team. And who would have thought: This fantastic sound came out of a tiny Yamaha LS9.

As lately as January 2007, to the chagrin of many residents, Hamburg’s public swimming pool “Bismarckbad”, in the district of Altona had been closed down and torn down, in order to make room for the expansion of the adjacent shopping mall “Mercado”. At that time the municipal operator of the indoor swimming pool “Bäderland” promised the citizens a new, ultra-modern adventure pool and indeed did not hesitate long to suit the action to the word.

Already in February 2009, “Festland” opened its doors not even two kilometres away from the old swimming pool. The new big, state-of-the-art building with a foot print of nearly 10.000 square meters features six water areas, including three 25-meter pools. Since then water-spouting dinosaur figures have been the delight of the youngest visitors, while grown-ups have been able to shed everyday stress together with their clothes, relaxing in sports pools, saunas, vapour baths and massage parlours.

The large-scale and skilfully marketed opening ceremony highlighted the importance of the new building complex for harbour metropolis Hamburg. The new “Festland”, just a few hundred metres away from the entertainment district Reeperbahn, is also meant to be a new centre of attraction for those millions of tourists visiting Hamburg every year.

At the beginning of the opening event, the elaborate dinosaur decoration was brought alive by an equally complex and highly realistic sound collage. Professional sound designer Tom Ammermann, an experienced psychoacoustics and surround productions specialist, was the creative expert behind the sound extravaganza. When Tom is not busy producing jungle atmospheres for swimming pool openings, he and his company “Mo'Vision” develop the so-called „headphone-surround“, a realistic multi-channel simulation for conventional stereo headphones.

Another contributor to the opening’s success was Sven Goldmann’s company Dezent. Dezent event management is well-known in Hamburg and they collaborate closely and on a friendship base “under one roof” with Tom and Mo'Vision. The company has earned itself a solid reputation well beyond Hamburg’s city limits. Numerous producers put their trust in the enterprise, which has already supplied famous artists ranging from Al Jarreau to the Wu-Tang Clan with their advanced audio technology.

For the inauguration of “Festland” Sven Goldmann’s team arranged a powerful 6.1 surround system around the rectangular main pool. They placed loudspeakers at the four corners as well as halfway down the two longer edges of the pool. Each of these six positions had their own input channel.

Sound expert Tom used the audio configuration for a complex sound collage placing the visitors inside an imaginative primeval jungle. Six subwoofers fed by the LFE channel made “Festland” quiver, especially on those occasions when the jungle atmosphere was torn by the powerful stamping of a full-grown Tyrannosaurus rex and thanks to skilful panning it really seemed to move across the hall. This highlight did not fail to have the desired effect – many a visitor’s hair stood on end hearing the sound-engineered realistic footfalls of the giant reptile. The impressive introductory sequence was followed by several speeches held by high-profile politicians and officials connected to “Festland”.

Naturally sound plays a leading part in such a special event, and the signal chain had to be of the very best quality. The master control centre was a Yamaha LS9-16, which actually took care of a whole range of tasks. Thus, the console received the seven surround channels of the pre-programmed sound collage from a Pioneer CDJ400 Player plus two microphone channels from the speaker microphones, used for the subsequent speeches. In order to manage spontaneous sound effect fill-ins and background music, a second CDJ400 had been connected to the console. On the output side, the LS9 fed several Yamaha P2700 type amplifiers, which in turn provided power for the surround loudspeaker systems and the stage monitors. The console was programmed with six different mix scenes, some of them were used for the punchy intro sequence, while others had been voice-optimised for the speeches of the officials and politicians.

Sound engineer Sven Baumelt was responsible for controlling the surround and monitor signals from the Yamaha LS9. The freelance mixing expert also enhanced Tom Ammermann’s sound collage with additional sound effects from the second Pioneer player.

Sven belongs to the younger generation of audio specialists and has absolutely no fear of contact with digital signal processing, as he willingly explains to us in detail: „Actually I don’t want to picture to myself any longer what it was like to have to use analogue consoles in company events. Ten years ago we would have needed a dedicated small lorry for all the external signal processors, the graphic EQs, the compressors and so on. Today I grab the LS9-16 with its internal signal processors with one hand, the bag of cables with the other hand, and I’m ready to go with just about everything I need for my job.“

Sven, who after completing his studies at the SAE Institute started out as live engineer and has since worked his way up to FOH and monitor expert, really appreciates these kind of advantages: “Huge performance, small volume and with minimum weight – looking at efficiency the LS9-16 is hard to beat. And the LS9 models are also right on target with their specifications. But it’s not only us, the engineers who benefit from modern digital mixing and sound technology. The organisers themselves have to consider significantly less space for equipment. Especially at company events like this one our equipment has to remain virtually invisible – even if it looks so pretty like the Yamaha consoles”, he says with a laugh.

Sven’s favourite feature is the remote-controlled operation of the console via the LS9 Editor interface and a tablet PC: “This way I can adjust the loudspeakers from an optimal monitoring position instead of being confined to the conditions of my unobtrusive mixing corner. Obviously this immensely improves the sound quality of the PA system.”

Sven Goldmann can only agree with his colleague. Dezent’s general manager owns a considerable stock of Yamaha equipment: “Besides various Yamaha amps we use the full range of digital consoles from the LS9 to the PM5D. The devices are extremely reliable, and that’s just what counts in our business.”

At the same time, the head of the company emphasises that at Dezent it’s not technology, but the clients and the imaginative realisation of their ideas that call the tune. Still he seems a little bit excited when he talks about the next planned purchase. “We can’t wait for the new Yamaha SB168-ES EtherSound stage box to arrive.”

Just as the heavy analogue console is now practically extinct, this might also become true for the bulky and unwieldy multicore cables, which could soon be a thing of the past.


Products LS9-32 , SB168-ES

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