What it takes to provide live audio at an airshow

What it takes to provide live audio at an airshow

 

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If you’re a sound engineer and you’ve been asked to fill a massive field with music and commentary for an airshow, you may be looking at your kit and scratching your head. What to take? How can one generate enough sound reinforcement to ensure everyone in attendance can hear the intricacies of the show whilst avoiding the requirement to call upon several hire vans to transport the no doubt endless numbers of speakers, amps and meters of cabling?

Well, good news – you don’t need to go overboard, if you’ve got the right kit.

The team at Precise Events know a thing or two about providing live sound services at such events, and, in July this year, were asked to run sound at the National Airshow of Scotland. Held at the National Museum of Flight at the East Fortune Airfield, this was a huge event; there were 13,000 people in attendance and, as you would expect, the amount of square footage to cover with sound was something of a logistical challenge.

Beyond background music, the most important aspect of the show to get right was the live commentary of the Red Arrows in action. In the following video, you can hear just how clearly Precise Events managed to deliver their performance at Scotland’s National Airshow:

We thought it would be interesting to run down the kit they used and to demonstrate that, with the right stuff in the back of the van, you simply don’t need to break your back when called upon to provide sound for such events.

Euphoria EX300 compact speakers

With 400 watts of clean power and a compact, lightweight casing, the EX300 shows how ultra-portable speakers can be just as powerful and dynamic in the middle of a field as they are in any smaller venue. And they take up so little space:

Euphoria EX300

Nova iC12A powered speakers

Every sound engineer will tell you that you need a solid, ever-reliable powered speaker or two in your kit room, and the iC12A is just that. The ‘plug it in, turn it on’ simplicity offered by powered speakers makes them a cinch to configure at events where setup time is often limited. Just don’t forget the waterproof covers!

Elite E18 Subs

While the Red Arrows provided the raspy, supersonic soundtrack to the National Air Show, Precise Events knew some bottom end would be required to add warmth and extended dynamic range for the day’s audio output. Hornloaded subs like the Elite E18 are a great choice, as they offer a brilliant ‘long throw’ effect, making them perfect for massive open spaces like this.

Elite ELC 26 line array

To compliment the big, booming subs, you’ll need to call on the concert favourite coaxial line array speaker (several of them, in fact). They’ve long been a favourite at outdoor events due to the way in which they can be stacked, the limited space they require and an enviable output.

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Union 15

A big airshow gig needs a speaker that can be considered a workhorse, and the Nova U 15 is used to getting its hands dirty. If you’re trudging around muddy fields, you’ll need kit that can cope with such conditions, making rugged design and plenty of rigging options essential features.

(Lots of) cable

The Precise Events team ran over 2,000 meters of cabling during the show, proving that if there’s one thing you need to go all-out on for such events as a sound engineer, it’s the stuff that connects speakers to amps. Always take more than you need!

Summary

In total, Precise took forty speakers along with that colossal amount of cable. The result was a relatively compact system (given the size of the event) and a sound stage that was dynamic, powerful and crystal clear.

We hope this post has inspired your next big event – good luck!

 

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