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Festival system design


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Hi all

I'm currently working on the design and prep for a large festival next weekend and it has been decided to use a pair of consoles out front and onstage, a Midas XL4 and a Yamaha PM5D-RH each end. The input line systems are easy, we have a pair of 56 channel Klark Teknik split racks with matching multicores, so there is an input system with monitor splits for each pair of consoles. The two front of house desks are also fairly easily dealt with; we've made the Xl4 the master, returned the PM5D left and right mix into a pair of subgroup returns then fed the whole PA from the 8 matrix outputs.

Monitor world is proving to be not quite as easy however!

As it stands, the plan is to make the XL4 the master again, and just return the appropriate busses from the PM5D into the bus inputs on the XL4 auxes. The analogue graphic eq rack would then be inserted on the XL4 aux insert points, and would thus affect both the mixes from the XL4 and PM5d. If an engineer wishes to use the Pm5d and inbuilt graphics we will simply bypass the analogue units. The issue we have come up against is that if an engineer wishes to use the PM5D BUT with analogue eq rather than the inbuilt digital graphics. At this point, soloing a mix on the PM5d will give a signal that is pre the graphics. I cant see it really being very popular if the engineer has to solo channels on the PM5d and his mixes on the XL4 master section to hear whats actually happening!

The only alternative we have come up with so far is to build a small rack with a few channels of analogue eq for the engineers that feel the need to have "hands on control" whilst using the PM5D. We have the I/o cards to let us do this I believe. This rack will be dedicated to the PM5D mixes and will be inserted there, so that the solo mixes from the desk are post eq.


At this point, the discussion is largely academic as we have not yet received the specs from the bands, but myself and the warehouse technical manager/ technical genius have both spent a while scratching our heads on this one today! So is there a really obvious way around this that we have missed?! Festival loads out next wednesday so we've got a while to prep yet but would like to get our plan sorted!


Thanks for reading!


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Normally be a little nervous about throwing digital at a festival, short turnarounds and no sound checks.... no knobs to twist and push...be happier with a pair of h3000's at each end... but as I'm not speccing...


For front of house, I'd recommend mixing the two desks, and having extra visitng desk intputs availible into an XL88, saves having to bus the consoloes, and you can keep the unused desk muted, to stop visiting engineers making any noise until YOU want them to, not till they think its ok for them to squek a bit of CD though the system, or just hear the kick in the PA... If you have a brace of XL4s, you must have an 88 somewhere..


Monitors, as you suggested, bus into the XL4, (sure you don't have any H3000's hiding anywhere, most monitor guys I know would be happier to tip up and find a purple beast waiting for them to play with in the Monitor bay), and as long as your monitor techs are on the ball, as I expect they are, tweak the graphics as needed to make them behave, and sit them over the outputs of the XL4, then, don't let anybody touch the graphics, unless absolutly neccesary, all EQ that anybody could feesably need to ever do on a festival monitor system can be done on a channel strip, if they have time to play with graphics, its all going to go wrong :off:


That way, your listeners and monitors will sound the same, and, if anybody brings a visiting desk, yet wants to use your boxes, you can just bus them in as well, and have fully functioning monitors in the time it takes to plug up... trust me this works...


Wheres the fezzie? Hope the weather is better than here... or are you being jammy and playing inside?



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We discussed the XL88 for a while, but we have the PA split up into main array, downfills and infills which are all fed from the XL4s matrix at the moment, we decided it would be easier to just use a pair of the aux returns for the PM5D and a further pair for the yamaha promix :off: which is going to handle all the "show console" stuff like playback returns and announce mics if needed. We thought about a H3000 too but its needed for a tour prep that leaves too soon after the gig to be reasonable.


I think the XL4/ PM5D combo at each end is to give the visiting guys a bit of a choice, and I think the headliners on at least on of the nights may have specced it. There was a lack of riders and the like when we started the prep today, but we're still a fair way out from the gig, not much on this weekend so getting ahead of ourselves while we can!


Agree with you entirely about not letting the visitors play with the monitor graphics! Story came back from last weekend that the only guy who's wedges squeaked all weekend was the one who hacked up the eq, everyone else was flat, give or take a couple of 2db cuts at about 200 that stayed there from the start, and had no problems :P The monitor guy is top notch so I cant see there being any problem there.Its just if we take a listen from the PM5D before the graphics. It might yet be a complete non issue but better to think about it now than when it gets to 15min changeover time!


Its an outdoor job, on the isle of wight. At the moment I'm just the prep monkey for the job, but hoping the weather is OK too... otherwise it will be me cleaning the multicores!


Thank you for your advice, Im still relatively new to the world of big festivals, have learnt a lot this summer, but wanted to see wether there were anyone with much more real world experience!


A quick question, on something like V or Reading, how do the dual control systems swap over? FOH is similar to this I would assume, but what about monitors, seperate solo mixes so that one band can check while the other is on? And the line check side of things as well, does the currently offline desk get inputs from the prep area for a line check?

Any other useful hints for a budding patch/monitor tech?


Many thanks


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Going out on a limb here having never used either desk, but it may just be possible to take the monitor outs from the PM5D to the monitor bus on the XL4. Maybe.....
That won't solve the problem of not hearing the eq when you listen to a mix on the PM5D. It has been a while since I did a big festival, but the last one I did had 4xPM4km and 1xParagon in mons. The paragon was for Sting, the other 4 were shared by 20 bands. On that gig the drive lines to the monitor amps were repatched between bands. With identical multipins on the consoles it is pretty quick to move the multipin. I'd go with a repatch and separate eq racks.



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It's a bit hard to describe the best ways of doing things over a forumn, however I'll try... I did patch for the other Isle of Wight Festival, the Nokia one, so fingers crossed, the weather will be as good as it has for me over the past few years...


The point of having two desks, and two sets of spilts, is not to give the engineers a choice, if they are that fussy they will have left space for their own production, so make sure you leave space for any visiting desks, and factor in their power requirments into your distro... the point is to make your life easy, any time that you, as pa supplier, and patch (hope theres more than one of you, ideally four, or more) are doing a band, then you put them on your boards... start at the top of the bill, the highest act yoiu have will be on deks "A", the nect down on "B", continue down the running order... now, you see why matched desks are usefull, may even be better to have both the 5ds, or XL4s at each end of the multi, your choice, as makes patch a lot easier... and means that your monitor guys can copy stuff about with relevence to the pther desk (copying eq from 5d, to midas or visa versa will not be fun)


Hope you see how it works, with the bands alternating between systems, you van set up the next bands behind the cloth, and get them rready to roll around for change overs, and line check them from there, useing a suitibly set up shout system... when A system is in use on stage, plug the b system into a detatchable stage box on the B system band and plug everything I there... you can then line check to the B system engineers, whilst the other band is playing... off they come, roundabout tastic, leaving B system on stage, all plugged up, and A multi thrown under cloth onto the next nad riser... may even get a chance for lunch if you get good :off:


If people tip up with their own productiom, then allow them to set their gear up on riser backstage, and line check into their system as you would with yours, as they will have brought their own multi, and desks...( don't forget to get the crew to put their multi in before you let the hording masses in...)


Told you would be a mess to describe... if you have any queries, send us a mail... I'll try to answer any specific questions, and won't bore the theatre types here with the benifits of 12pr multi patch boards built into your festival split system, or of running a suitible distro into the usc area... bores me anyway, but could be usefulll



Hope you have fun




PS. trust me, the XL88 is most defiently worth sticking in your FOH system tech rack... will get you out of plenty of poo!

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Thank you so much for your reply Jonathan, has cleared up several questions I had about big festival patch situations! I handled patch for the second stage at the Cornbury festival this year, only had a single XL3 each end, and we could only come up with one pair of sub boxes with multipin disconnect (busy weekend elsewhere!) so I used that on the drum kit! Considering it was my first time working stage on my own in a festival situation it all went rather well! Apart from that vocal mic on the last band of the last day that worked better when it was actually plugged in to the split. :off: I really enjoyed the challenge and think I might have found which end of the multicore I prefer being at!


I may send you a mail at some point with more specific questions if I think of any, thanks for your willingness to share your knowledge!


Looks like it will be extra eq for the digital board then, we shall see what turns up on the rider specs today and go from there! As an aside, there is a pleasantly noticeable difference between the speed taken to reset a PM5d, and the time taken to do the same on an XL4 :P


Thanks again


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Several things spring to mind

1. Personally I would prefer to see two of the same type of desk FoH

2. Likewise for monitors

3. I cannot see the justification for this level of event with mixed types of desk at FoH and monitors


Are you obliged to use PM5d?


Therefore I would suggest

1. Two XL4 FoH with matrix's bused together or through XL8

2. Two XL3 or H3000 for monitors

3. Two Multi's each dedicated to its own pair of desks (FoH/Monitor)

4. Two monitor desk outputs matrxed to give desired feeds to wedges etc.

5. PM5d FoH and Monitor only (the outputs I recall can be monitored pfl and afl) (total one desk each end)



This prep sounds a bit late for a large event one week away!! we plan all this type of stuff as early as possible upto a year before.





I hope this helps, but of course may complecate things even more.

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Thanks for those points. The PM5Ds are needed for at least two of the headline acts over the three day festival.

There has been some planning in advance but it seems to be one of those ever changing scenarios where choices must be made that also fit into what else is happening at the same time! This is prep in the sense of actually building the system before we load it onto a truck.

In the end, we have looked over all the riders today, and those that wish to use a PM5D will be using the internal graphics, so it has worked out OK with one desk of each type each end :P We've also put slot cards in to give us 8 ins and 8 outs for any outboard people bring and wish to connect. The Xl4 will be the master at the monitor end with the PM5D bussed into it.

I also agree on having the same consoles at both ends, I think probably the ultimate festival system currently is a pair of Midas H3000 at both ends. This is a case of meeting riders and the availability of desks, more than having an identical package for flip flopping between.


Thanks again for everybody's ideas, learnt a few new bits!



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