The goal of the project was to set a Guinness World Record for the largest orchestra ever. Our role was to design audio systems that would enable over 8,000 musicians to rehearse and perform in Gazprom Arena for a local and television audience. Providing timing and pitch to 8,000 players is tricky, add to that the 12-second reverb time of the venue and the complexity of the situation quickly becomes clear.
Our priorities were to provide clear and intelligible monitoring for the orchestra and create a clean sound for broadcast and the venue that still had the huge sound of 8,000 musicians. We worked with the team from the CSA (producers) to arrange a 300-piece core orchestra on a stage that we could capture directly with a combination of bugs and section microphones. This would provide us with the clean sound we needed to cut through the reverberation of the venue.
We placed an arrangement of microphones on an overhead pipe grid at 11m above the floor to capture the mass orchestra, and audience microphones were mounted to a truss grid suspended at 25m above the floor. This truss also supported the lower bowl loudspeaker system. The floor was covered in carpet to help reduce the reverberation time by 3 seconds.
The loudspeaker system consisted of four elements:
Front fill system of 16 L-Acoustics 5XT's to reinforce the sound of the core orchestra from stage for the local mass orchestra.
Overhead monitoring of 40 L-Acoustics X8 loudspeakers mounted to a pipe grid suspended at 11m above the floor.
Lower bowl system consisting of 10 arrays of 10 L-Acoustics KARA and one SB18 suspended from a truss grid at 25m trim.
Upper bowl system consisting of 12 arrays of 10 KARA and 3 SB18 in a cardioid arrangement.
In total we used 220 KARA, 40 SB18, 40 X8 and 36 5XT (including choir monitors).
The video below is a walk-through of the SOUNDVISION file for the project.
Audio Control System
The control system was a complex arrangement of eight DiGiCo SD7 consoles over three Optocore networks to manage the huge quantity of input channels. Eight DiGiCo SD-Racks were used to collect the inputs from the core orchestra (300 piece) and the 100-voice choir. These racks were connected to 3 dual-engine SD7's which were used to create orchestra and choir sub-mix stems.
The stems were the delivered to a second Optocore network created using Optocore DD4MR-FX units connected to the MADI ports of the consoles. A mirrored pair of SD7's at FOH, a mirrored pair of SD7B's for broadcast and a dual-engine SD7 for monitors recieved the stems to their MADI ports. These consoles were also connected to the third Optocore network which also had 10 Optocore X6R-FX network interfaces and another pair of SD-Racks for control room inputs and outputs.
Audio Inputs and Outputs
Hundreds of microphones were required to capture our four main sound sources:
Core orchestra - located on a stage in front of the LED screen the core orchestra of 300 players was captured with DPA bugs, Schoeps section micswith some AKG, Shure and Sennheiser's for specialty instruments.
Mass orchestra - filling the reaminder of the stadium floor the mass orchestra of around 8,000 was captured with overhead large diaphram cardioid microphones mounted on the pipe grid at 11m above the floor.
Choir - in two rows upstage of the core orchestra of 300 singers was captured with Neumann section mics.
Audience and Room - the sound of the room and the audience are an important part of the broadcast mix and were captured with shotgun mics mounted from the PA truss at 24m above the stadium floor.
The video below shows the microphones just prior to deployment on stage.
The people and companies that made it happen.
A huge thanks Andrey, Nadia, Evgeniya, Yura and the whole team at CSA for trusting us with this tricky project. Congratulations for producing such a successful event and winning the record.
Scott Willsallen designed the systems and led the team with James Lee as our technical consultant. Our operational team consisted of Fabio Venturi on orchestra and choir submix, Justin Arthur on FOH, Andy Rose on Broadcast, Andrea Tesini on Monitors, Luis Miranda on replay and Martin Dineley looking after systems.
Congratulations to Giulio Rovelli and the whole team at Agora for preparing, shipping and installing a world-class system with world class crew. Thanks to James Breward for taking care of comms for the project.