Void Majors at Europe's Hottest Festival
- October 2014
Manchester based sound equipment specialists Neuron Pro Audio has supplied a host of Void Acoustics sound systems for the increasingly popular Outlook festival, held in early September on the site of a ruined fort on Croatia’s glorious Adriatic Coast. Now in its seventh year, Outlook is widely recognised as Europe’s largest bass music and sound system culture festival, and offers up both a music festival and summer holiday in one. With over 400 acts playing in and around the 150 year old Fort Punta Christo, a world of intimate boat parties, and a kilometre of beach on which to chill, Outlook is the one to attend.
Located in the amazingly vibrant Islington Mill creative complex of Salford, just outside Manchester’s City centre, Neuron specialises in the hire of high end audio, lighting, and staging, and boasts one of the largest Void Acoustics PAs in the region.
With five full-time specialists in the business, a wide network of trusted freelance engineers, and a warehouse carrying one of the largest stocks of DJ equipment in the whole North West area, Neuron Pro Audio can accommodate any size of event or festival, both at home and abroad.
Neuron’s involvement with the festival goes back several years, when managing director Kyle Marriott was part of the Live Sound Hire audio production team in 2009, while chief engineer Jonny Wharton used to hang out with SUBDUB’s Simon Scott. As a result of these relationships, Neuron has supplied systems for the event every year since 2011, expanding its reach and experience as the festival has grown.
Void’s involvement with the festival is also long standing, with one of the stages formerly known as Outside the Fort now taking its name from the UK manufacturer’s brand – The Void.
“For Outlook 2014,” says Neuron’s general manager Alex Morgan, “we provided sound for three stages: The Void, The Ballroom and The Garden. Two further stages in the fort, The Courtyard and The Dungeon, were merged into one larger outdoor stage for this year’s event to keep the site feeling fresh to festival goers.”
For The Void stage a full custom touring Void Incubus system was deployed for front of house, with an additional four Stasys Xair and four Air Motion V2 covering centre fill, and all run from Powersoft KDSP+AESOP amplifiers: two K20, four K10, eight K3 and two M50Q. For stage monitoring Stasys Phils with Stasys 218 subs were used for the DJ, with a combination of Stasys 4 and Impulse 4t on wedge duty. The whole loudspeaker system was mixed side of stage from a Midas PRO1 desk.
At The Garden, six Stasys X V2 with Void Nexus 6 tops were chosen for their ideal stacking height and broad vertical coverage necessary to reach upwards on an incline of more than 10 degrees. This setup was run from Void Infinite 8v2 amps managed by Void Livedrive v2 DSP units.
“We were also asked to provide additional systems once we were on site for a variety of secret parties and competition winners,” comments Morgan, “and an Arcline X and Arcline 6 delay system was implemented some 150 metres down the sands from the beach party stage.”
Finally The Ballroom system consisted of two Stasys Xair and two Air Motion v2 run via a combination of Chevin, Lab Gruppen and Void Infinite 8v2 amplifiers.
The iconic, minimalistic Void Acoustics loudspeakers were the obvious solution for the main audience spaces at Outlook due to their overwhelming popularity for outdoor dance events. Neuron’s managing director Kyle Marriott comments on the choice: “We have been Void users for the past eight years, and at some point have owned almost every product to roll out of the factory. In the last two years in particular we believe they have released some incredible products that are leading the industry both aesthetically and sonically. This has been backed up by some high profile installs in some of the world's best clubs and venues, as well as the feedback from our own events and productions.
“We were blown away on hearing the Incubus demo at Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt last year, and commissioned a custom touring edition of the system after some discussions with Void’s sales manager, Mike Newman – not only does it sound incredible with seriously physical bass and smooth, natural top end, it looks amazing too!
“The original Stasys X was instrumental in the early development of our business, and the v2 has exceeded our already high expectations. With a slightly narrower box it's dropped the weight and made it a more friendly truck pack yet is still so powerful; those things can take some serious juice! A block of three with Nexus on top is a great stack, working almost as a ‘baby’ Incubus system, which is great for people who want the visual impact at smaller events.
“We also took on some Air Motion v2 a couple of years back and they have barely been in the warehouse. Visually they’re unmistakable – Air Motion selfies from people in the crowd are definitely a big thing! They work excellently with very minimal effort in almost any environment, especially due to the wide range of mounting options for either flying or stacking them almost invisibly to the naked eye in a darkened room. Combined with a pair of the new Stasys X, they were perfect for the both central fill and the Ballroom, making the sound physical and having a wide stereo image due to the more natural conical dispersion pattern that they exhibit.”
Marriott’s thoughts echo those of the Outlook and Dimensions festivals organisers, who pride themselves on having the highest calibre of sound systems found at any event of their kind worldwide. “It is incredibly rare for a single manufacturer to make such a wide range of products that all adhere to the exemplary standards whilst also looking so vastly different,” he adds, “and this is reflected in the fact that overall there is more equipment from Void Acoustics on the site than from any other manufacturer.
The event does come with its own set of challenges however, and Void’s designers have built in some innovative handling features that help to tackle the unexpected.
“Custom forklift accessible brackets and well placed handles make light work of the Incubus System including the 100kg Air Array,” says Marriott, “and over time we've built up a variety of time saving and safe techniques to get everything setup with relatively little effort.”
“Access to the venue is also a little more challenging than the average event. It is a 400 year old fort placed on the top of a hill at the end of a peninsula, so getting a 40 foot truck full to the brim with equipment up there can be tricky to say the least. There’s a great site crew team both from the UK and local, and everyone is happy to throw in a little more grunt work than usual when rigging something like the Incubus in return for a couple of beers at the end of the working day.
"The upwards incline of the Garden stage required some careful angling of the Nexus tops but once completed the stack gave perfect coverage of the 1000 capacity area.
“In Croatia there's no environmental health walking round with decibel meters telling sound crews to turn it down or hack out this and that frequency, so you can finally hear what these systems are capable of,” Marriot points out. “It was crystal clear throughout the audience area with a really physical experience nearer the front. It was not uncommon to find people with stage access bathing in sub between the stacks and the barriers!
“The Ballroom is also a very interesting space – it’s only around 75 capacity but is a circular vertical tunnel made of sandstone blocks several feet thick. Coverage and bass response isn't an issue, but putting too much energy into the circular space can make it unpleasant and echoey and it is more difficult to predict in advance what exactly will happen. In previous years we’ve tried a variety of techniques to keep the volume up at a good level without too much reverb, but this year the tweaks to the specified system meant the balance was just right with minimal room EQ and no repositioning of the stacks.
“The sound quality on all the Void stages was exceptional – almost unmatched clarity, dense and accurate low end, and more output per box than any other stage. The feedback from the festival organisation, press and party goers was all excellent.
“After our first couple of times working the event, we were asked to sign onto a three year contract to provide a larger specification of equipment including site-wide DJ backline, so we shall definitely be back next year!"
Photographs courtesy of Alex Morgan.
Void Acoustics designs, manufactures and distributes advanced professional audio systems for the installed and live-sound sectors. The company offers an evolved series of audio solutions that encompasses loudspeaker systems, power amplifiers, control electronics and accessories.
Void Acoustics Ltd
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