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Global News: New Zealand Hosts First Full-Scale Post-Pandemic Arena Production

FOH Staff • August 2020Features • August 6, 2020

L.A.B. performs at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Marking the country’s much-anticipated return to live music events, reggae band L.A.B. played a sold-out show for 6,000 fans at Auckland’s Spark Arena. College Hill Productions supplied an L-Acoustics K1 system for the event, which had been relocated from a local theater venue due to overwhelming demand.

When the call came to supply a sound system for the world’s first arena concert after the Covid-19 lockdown, the team at College Hill was thrilled to be involved. “Once Covid-19 hit New Zealand, we weren’t sure when the industry was going to pick up again,” said College Hill Audio’s James Thompson. “When Mikee (Tucker, of L.A.B.’s management) contacted us to say he was planning on shifting the concert to Spark Arena, and making it the first arena concert back, we got our planning books out and waited until the ‘all clear’ was given to host mass gatherings.”

L.A.B. performs at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand

Working from their home offices, the event plans and logistics were formulated by the College Hill team. Once restrictions were lifted, they had approximately a month to pull everything together, working closely with the band to select the right equipment to cater for their needs.

“We chose L-Acoustics because the products across the range offer superior coverage at greater distances, as well as having exceptional vertical and horizontal pattern control,” Thompson said. “The K Series products are an extremely well-designed set of tools that allow us to fill large spaces with uniform coverage, while focusing that coverage at the audience and away from surfaces with low absorption coefficients.”

Joel Shadbol from L.A.B. performs at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand

Using L-Acoustics Soundvision 3D modeling software, a preliminary design was made to evaluate cabinet counts and configuration options, then refined on-site to a more detailed prediction for inter-box angles, as well as FIR filter and Air Compensation starting points. Using SPL mapping and probes, design/system engineer Johnny Keirle could predict how the P.A. would respond in an empty, dry room, as well as point out any problematic areas caused by different atmospheric conditions during the show. Soundvision let him verify his sub array design visually, again allowing him to see in advance any areas he might want to focus on when approaching system alignment and optimization.

The final configuration comprised left / right hangs of eight K1, four K2 and four K1-SB subs. Eight K2 were deployed for side fill, with additional fill from 12 dV-Dosc and six ARCS, while 24 SB28 subs were floor stacked for the L.A.B. concert at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand

The final configuration comprised left/right hangs of eight K1, four K2 and four K1-SB subs. Eight K2 were deployed for sidefill, with additional fill from 12 dV-DOSC and six ARCS, while 24 SB28 subs were floor-stacked. “The flown system was configured with a K1-SB extension to increase throw and directivity of low frequency energy in the array,” said Keirle. “The speaker configurations were designed to maximize coverage uniformity both in terms of SPL, tonal balance, frequency distribution and response.”

Feedback from the audience was enthusiastic. “The crowd could really feel the energy of the band through the PA, which was a fantastic result. We were told by several attendees that it was good to be back at a concert with great sound,” Thompson said. “The buzz is real,” added Tucker. “The sound was the best we have heard in Spark Arena: clear, crisp and controlled.”

L.A.B. performs at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand

The College Hill team followed up its support of L.A.B.’s Auckland show with another sold-out performance in Hamilton, New Zealand a few days later. “It was a great feeling for us all to be back in the workforce,” concluded Thompson. “While we adjust back to this ‘new-normal,’ we feel for our friends and family all over the world who are still coming to grips with the uncertainty of our industry. Stay strong, be kind and we can get through this together!”

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