Marco Borsatto at Rotterdam’s De Kuip stadium

Superstar Dutch singer Marco Borsato recently performed his anthemic back catalogue to 240,000 fans over five nights at Rotterdam’s De Kuip stadium – a performance that required full-spectrum coverage across the entire open roof stadium from a d&b audiotechnik SL-Series loudspeaker system.

Borsato is a national treasure in The Netherlands, thanks to a hit-making, multi-award-winning, 20-year career. He is one of a handful of artists with the fanbase clout to play five nights at the 51,000-capacity De Kuip (affectionately The Tub, the nickname for the Stadion Feijenoord), which is among the country’s largest venues.

Utrecht-based d&b partner Peak Audio provided a system, with Anthony Kappel as System Designer and Chief System Engineer alongside colleague Bart Schouten as System Designer and Project Manager.

Marco Borsatto at Rotterdam’s De Kuip stadium

‘As an early adopter of the SL-Series, we’ve had the opportunity to gain a lot of experience with the cabinets, and even more when designing and specifying both GSL and KSL for the Marco Borsato concerts,’ Schouten says. ‘We benefitted a lot from the accurate simulations we achieved using d&b ArrayCalc, and we were confident we could get the best result possible for a concert in a stadium like De Kuip.’

In addition to the ArrayCalc software, the team also used d&b ArrayProcessing to accurately determine the behaviour of the SL-Series line array across the entire listening area within De Kuip. ‘ArrayProcessing proved indispensable in achieving accurate simulation in the design phase, providing a powerful tool, especially when applying temperature and humidity changes during the gig,’ says FOH engineer and System Designer, Barak Koren.

Koren, Schouten and Kappel specified 40 GSL8 cabinets for the main LR arrays, and a further 40 for out fill and delays. These were complemented with a series of KSL8 for the main fly fand far fill. GSL12s were used for front fill, with SL-Subs positioned around the stadium. One 180 d&b D80 amplifiers fed the set-up.

‘The GSL and KSL system enabled me to mix with a big dynamic range – soft piano songs and massive pop arrangements – and obtain the clarity of the vocalist across the whole venue,’ Koren reports. ‘It offered great projection with very smooth polar pattern off axis.

Marco Borsatto at Rotterdam’s De Kuip stadium

‘We also achieved this with minimum sound pollution outside of the venue – as the open-air stadium could spill sound out into the residential neighbourhood. We had great results and no complaints, despite the high sound levels within the venue and full spectrum coverage. The only system that can deliver these requirements is the SL-Series.”

Concert reviews praised Borsato’s ‘frenzied sing-alongs’ and ‘dramatic ballads’, noting how the venue sounded like ‘one big choir’.

‘The GSL and KSL System sounded clear, detailed and tight in the low end,’ says Koren. ‘The coverage was good, and even, so it was easier to mix. The controlled low-end frequencies are the biggest benefit for stadium sound. That creates clarity that gives the ability to mix softer with the same level of sensation.’

Having been Borsatto’s monitor engineer since 1996, Paul Duwel has helped to persuade Peak Audio invest in a Yamaha Rivage PM7 system – and manned it for the De Kuip performances. He was one of the first Dutch engineers to use the PM1D, first with Borsatto and then on a theatre production. ‘In the theatre everybody thought I was crazy, because it’s such a big desk,’ he says. ‘But I showed them the first layer was Front of House and the second layer was monitors, so it was really two desks.’

Such is his Duwel’s confidence in Yamaha and the Borsatto’s in him, these stadium shows were the first that he had mixed monitors on the Rivage PM7: ‘It’s small in size, but it has so many tools and is so fast and logical to use,’ he says. ‘You can create custom layers really quickly, you’ve got the Rupert Neve Designs plug-ins, you’ve got Dante... it’s all there.’

The monitor set-up for the shows featured 118 inputs, including 16 channels of backing tracks and 12 talkback mics for the seven onstage musicians and five crew. There were 70 outputs, mainly stereo in-ears and a number of wedges, keeping onstage SPLs low, but not compromising on atmosphere for the performers.

‘Rivage PM7 is the best thing that has happened to me in the industry,’ Duwel says. ‘If I could advise young engineers, I’d say start on a Yamaha QL1, work up to the Rivage PM7 or PM10 and you’ll be very happy.’

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