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Show More

Big Stage DJ

So much is been written on big DJ festivals & arena gigs I was for once wondering what to write and the one thing that came to my mind was that over the past one year we have moved from the arena to the stadia.

The gigs have just scaled so much bigger and the tickets sales have done so too. Off course this has logically increased the demand for large size PA systems. But the point I would like to make is that what really goes behind the scenes to make these events a sonic success. Is a lot of planning for the event, surprisingly all done during the prep and not on the site.

The Layout

This is the most important requisite for you to decide how much PA is required to do the job and thus defines 80% of the costs of the show; the rest of the 20% depends on the artist audio riders. When we receive the layout we are able to plot the speaker systems coverage and SPL across the venue so that the fans no matter where they are receive good sound & even coverage. This is not just for sonic purposes but the layout also establishes where the scaffolding towers or cranes need to be erected for putting the PA system. From here all the power distribution & amplification gets its demographic locations too.


Responding to all the artists’ technical riders is a part of the job & once finalized with them then the job of collating all the riders together to make one set for seamless changeovers is the second part of the job. Nowadays DJ’s bring live acts with drums, percs & synthesizers as a part of their entourage and many even travel with a dedicated monitor engineer for all their stage requirements. Timecode, MIDI devices are extensively used to sync with their lighting and visuals and some shows are completely scripted musically from the first song to the last.


Using good infrastructure to erect the loudspeaker systems will always be the key to the success of any format of show, not just electronic music & I can’t highlight this matter enough. I have noticed most events where the audio failed, was due to poor integration of the infrastructure. It is so important to use the correct scaffolding and get the height you need without compromising on safety for the event. Good infrastructure also means good safety standards; its important to note that you never compromise on safety no matter what & definitely no matter what unsafe things even your client makes you want to do.

Power Distribution

Without this we are nothing, good clean power with ample power headroom too is the genesis of a good show and if you underestimate the power requirements for the event you will surely realize it in the last few hours of the event when the headliners are juicing out every ampere of the generator through your PA system especially the frequencies between 30Hz & 70Hz. Whenever I walk onto site the first thing I check even before checking the PA system is if the power distribution & generators were set up as per plan. Nowadays its important to also insist on a dedicated cable contractor because the gensets that come to the gigs have the most pathetic stock cables & no distribution & fake earthing mechanisms.

PA System

What can I say here that would actually nail this right? Well probably three things. Quality, Power (Headroom), Coverage. Any of these three things missing in the equation and we have failed in doing this right.

A - Quality

What’s the purpose of having tremendous amount of power if the system sounds distorted and the choice of turnkey system isn’t good enough? The quality of the system plays a very important role here, not just sheer amount of boxes alone.

B - Power (Headroom)

In fact most of the mistakes are made here, where we mostly get good sounding systems to the venue with inadequate power/ number of boxes. This makes things extremely dangerous because many times you are putting a great sound system at risk by being over driven.

C – Coverage

Off course its practically impossible to provide near perfect coverage in a stadia no matter what anyone tells you as the demographic is too large to achieve this. What would happen is that even for a 6db increase in the overall SPL of the venue in a certain location and you have to double the amount of the loudspeakers to achieve that. So when we plan for coverage it is the most calculated decision that we need to account for, as this is the sole decider of how many speakers & stacks do you need to achieve this job.

DriveLines, Control, Calibration & Alignment

Everyone uses different methods to do this however there is a step procedure here it starts with good design, then the quality of source drivelines being provided to each of the speaker towers, Calibration is an aspect of tuning a PA system even without having to turn it on, this is sometimes extremely helpful when you have no time for soundcheck. Alignment using test & measurement tools is the final cut of the entire project and honestly once the system is time aligned and equalized then every step procedure you have taken in this small synopsis will ensure that you are sipping coffee at the console doing just fine staring at your control computer all in the green and the fans having a great time

At the end of the day we do this for the festival punters & the visiting engineers who have good stories to say about India.

Warren D'souza - Founder, Managing
Director, & Working Member of Sound.Com


Palm Expo Magazine Jan Feb 2024 Palm Expo Magazine Jan Feb 2024
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