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ZAF: World’s Largest Gospel Concert Relies On Outline To Deliver The Word

With an audience estimated at close to three quarters of a million people, ‘The Experience’ is an interdenominational gospel concert held annually in Lagos, Nigeria. Convened and hosted by Pastor Paul Adefarasin, the colossal event debuted in December 2006 and is now the largest musical concert in Africa, featuring guest artistes from numerous countries leading the crowd in worship and praise.

Lagos-based CyTech World Communication provided the huge audio infrastructure necessary to deliver speech and music to the huge crowds. Such is the success CyTech have achieved at this unique event that 2017 is actually the fifth consecutive year in which they and their Outline loudspeaker systems have been entrusted with the huge technical responsibility for reaching every corner of the enormous audience area within the huge 280m × 200m Tafawa-Balewa Square.

Vinnie Perreux (Outline) and Charles Duke (House on the Rock).

A long-standing fan and client of Outline, CyTech’s owner Cyril Utomoibor has in the past deployed numerous Outline products from his inventory for these events including Butterfly, GTO C-12, LAB 21, DBS 18-2, DVS, Doppia, Subtech 218 and others, but for the 2017 event he extended his investment in Outline with the purchase of their flagship GTO system.

Outline’s own Vinnie Perreux was on hand in Lagos in his system technician role and describes how the huge rig was configured:

“I started with the Outline OpenArray1 file containing the system design used in previous years, which I sent to Steve before we flew out and he was happy with it. The 2017 project was designed on OpenArray2 and helped us to figure out in advance the correct location of all the loudspeaker positions so that we could achieve the correct coverage in both planes and the average SPL he was looking for across the venue. Additionally it also allowed us to blend the areas being covered by different types of Outline cabinet so that there was seamless audio everywhere. We knew what the results would be before we even turned the PA on, which was a massive advantage for an event like this.”

“From a system viewpoint, Steve sent me a L/R feed and a mono auxiliary send to drive the system controllers. They in turn provided the stereo and mono feeds for the various loudspeaker locations: main FOH L/R (each comprising 18 x GTO, 12 x GTO C-12 and two GTO-DF downfills), main FOH side hangs L/R (18 x GTO C-12 each), rear ground stacks L/R (8 x Butterfly each), front subs L/R (16 x DBS 18-2), front centre sub (mono 8 x SubTech), main FOH subs (mono 4 x LAB 21) plus six delay towers (two comprising 18 x GTO C-12 cabinets each, two with 20 x Butterfly each and two using 16 x Butterfly) plus a stereo mix for the sound system outside the stadium.”

Vinnie concludes, “I saw three-quarters of a million people dancing and singing from 5pm to 6am, from in front of the stage all the way up to the last seat on the top of the roof, an area 135m long by 35m high filled with Steve’s powerful mix. Mission accomplished and a huge thanks to Cyril and his audio crew!”

FOH supervisor Steve Davies was part of a team of nine technicians from UK-based Subfrantic Production Services Ltd, dealing with everything from sound (FOH, stage and broadcast) through lighting design and operation, set design, stage management, and video content for the stage screens. Steve reprised a role he has undertaken at The Experience several times before and describes some of the changes brought about by the inclusion of CyTech’s new GTO system:

“Cyril from CyTech added to their inventory for the 2017 event with a healthy amount of GTO, meaning that the rig performed completely differently to the last few years where we were using only the GTO C-12. This meant that the main PA had plenty of headroom, and never struggled to reproduce anything that was asked of it from the aggressive tonal attack of the talking drums through to the more laid back and smoother sound created by Don Moen and his band.”

“We look for a minimum even coverage of 115 dB across the whole site, and then aim to mix much lower than that, usually 95-105 dB depending on the act, time of the night, and of course who’s running the console at the time – and the number of people with whistles and vuvuzelas! This year the addition of the GTO meant that we could move the C-12 around and bolster the rest of the rig, so we didn’t have to work the FOH too hard in order to cover as much ground as possible – consequently I was sat at around a comfortable 95 for most of the event.”

“I’ve always been a fan of GTO C-12, I find that it gives me a solid yet defined sound, easy to control but also responsive. Having the GTO added to the system this year relieved all the stress points on a system covering what is really a huge area. We had more bass end, and a rig that felt like it was working well within its tolerances for a show that size. Much credit for our success must also go to Vinnie from Outline, the way he tuned the whole massive rig and generally looked after us was fantastic – thanks Vinnie!”