Midas PRO consoles at heart of historic UAE National Day celebrations
A Midas PRO6 supplied by London’s Britannia Row and a PRO9 from Dubai-based Sound On Stage Events had leading roles in the UAE’s spectacular National Day celebrations to mark the 40th Anniversary of the nation’s founding.
The PRO6 controlled all the audio, both live and broadcast, at the multi-artist arena show in the filled-to-capacity 50,000-seat Sheikh Zayed Stadium, held in the presence of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Emirates rulers and Crown Prince.
“We had an unlimited budget and we could have taken any console in the world, but the PRO6 was the only choice for the job,” says Britannia Row engineer Josh Lloyd. “This show was an incredibly high profile, complex, one-off event, and broadcast live on TV. Equipment failure was not an option.”
The PRO6’s digital flexibility and networking capability also proved invaluable on-site assets, enabling I/O to be easily distributed across the stadium’s huge distances and ensuring audio clarity in a hostile RF environment.
The show itself comprised two halves; the first, a military parade with marching band; the second, celebrating the birth and development of the nation, involving hundreds of musicians, singers, dancers and other performers across eight different scenes.
Lloyd set up using one Midas DL351 and two DL451 modular I/O units, while a DL451 in the video control room took the commentary mics and the VT feeds for the show, plus the time codes for lighting, pyro and lasers. The other DL451 interfaced with the playback system and the main system outputs to the PA and monitors. The DL351 took all the mic and radio mic inputs, providing stems and splits for broadcast, as well as additional time codes.
The marching band was fully miked up to allow for a mix in the stadium as well as splits and sub-mixing for broadcast, while during the parade itself, playback from a triple redundant playback rig was connected via AES, again for both stadium and broadcast. The PRO6 also handled all the TV commentary for the event.
Automation and show file features came into their own in the second half, with music and vocals pre-mixed and mastered on the console during the five-week rehearsal period. In rehearsals the automation was for virtual soundchecks, and in the show itself to automate EQ fader and mutes between sections of the show.
Given the challenges of the event, Lloyd particularly appreciated the point-to-point routing between I/Os. “This was used a lot, including distributing the time codes essential for such a complex show” he explains. Other stand out features for Lloyd included using midi within scenes to fire playback cues and the sound of the desk’s compressors, which he describes as “Fantastic, with great shimmer on the busses and it’s very transparent on things like speech getting mixed for TV.
“Overall, the PRO6 performed great, the sound was amazing and the client was happy. What more could you ask?”
Meanwhile, Sound On Stage Events used their newly-upgraded Midas PRO9 for a two night run of concerts at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) in Abu Dhabi, featuring leading musicians Abdulla Al Rowaishid and Murex d'Or award winner Hussein Al Jassmy, part of a series of musical performances staged in celebration of UAE National Day.
Sound On Stage have been committed Midas fans since using the analogue Legend 3000 and Venice 320 consoles back in 2000, and were the first company in the Middle East to own a PRO6.
For Rawad Saad, Sound On Stage’s technical manager, the National Day concerts were the perfect opportunity for a first outing for the PRO9. “We had three different artists each night,” he says, “but it was all easily accommodated by the PRO9’s higher channel count and its simple but sophisticated automation system.”
DL431 active mic splitters on stage were patched to the desk via the onstage DSP rack, while a Klark Teknik DN9331 Rapide graphic controller allowed quick access to the PR09’s onboard KT DN370 graphic EQs. A Klark Teknik DN9696 high definition audio recorder was hooked up with three CAT5 cables for recording the show. Saad used six scenes for the different artists, with some 50 channels per scene to accommodate an Arabic band with strings, cellos, drums, percussion, guitars and keyboards, as well as the individual artists. “This allowed us to quickly rehearse and save specific settings, and recall settings on the day of the shows, allowing us to focus on mixing the performance,” he says. The mix for the live TV broadcast to an audience of one million was also provided by the PRO9, via the DL431 mic splitters.
UAE Midas distributor NMK Electronics – last year’s Midas Distributor Of The Year and supplier to Sound On Stage – was also happy. Many local rental companies have requested a demo, “having seen the PRO6 in action for themselves,” reports NMK’s business development manager, Chicco Hiranandani.
Photo: Britannia Row’s Midas PRO6 at UAE National Day
Photo: Sound on Stage’s Rawad Saad and the Midas PRO9