Creamfields CF03

One of the world’s most famous and popular electronic music festivals, Creamfields provided the setting for Adlib to prove its technical credentials once again, supplying sound, lighting and rigging for two of the event’s main arenas – CF03 (Armada/Mega) and CF05 The Curve – and the all-important VIP and hospitality area, CF10.

The four-day festival was staged at its regular site on the Daresbury Estate near Warrington. Adlib worked directly for creative production specialist LarMac Live. On site, the Adlib crews were led by Hassane Es Siahi (Hass), who designed the audio in CF03, and Adlib’s Kevin Byatt who was project manager for all systems.

Creamfields 2017CF03 (this year co-hosted by Armada and Mega) is a large tent built on a slope presenting immediate topographical challenges in getting even sound coverage. Added to this, the tent skins were swagged – hammock style – over the king poles, creating further reflections.

Hass has worked as FOH engineer for leading international DJ and superstar David Guetta for several years and in that time built up an extensive knowledge and understanding of the nuances of dance music and DJ performance.

The main PA in CF03 comprised 12-a-side L-Acoustics K2 hangs and 32 of the new L-Acoustics KS28 high-power subs – a LCR array of these all running in cardioid mode. The 12 subs on house right (stage left) were stacked in a 4-4-4 configuration, with the bottom elements reversed. The centre cluster was made up of eight subs in four columns of two – 2-2-2-2 – with the bottoms on the first and the third stacks (when looking from the house) reversed. The stage right/house left stack mirrored its counterpart on the other side, again with the bottom cabinets reversed.

This proved a winning formula in terms of throwing bass to the back of the 75m-long space, as Hass explained that it was essential to get the subs physically high enough to create a big wave of low frequencies at the front that self-propels itself down the length of the room. He chose cardioid mode because of the quantities of KS28 subs and the fact that they needed minimal output sneaking out behind the stage.

The minimal rejection of these new subs however means that they are particularly quiet at the back, so he could have used fewer in gone a non-cardioid set-up but decided to go with what he knew would work in a venue rocked by some of the greatest names in dance. Four-a-side ARCS II speakers provided front fill, and for the outfield, Hass positioned three Kara a side ground-stacked on flight cases, plus a delay stack on the tent king-poles at the back of the FOH position directly facing the main entrance.

The psychology there was wanting people walking past to be able to hear the DJ perfectly through that entrance gap – before they decided whether to squeeze their way in. This delay also compensated for any sound interference that might be coming from the open-air stage directly opposite across the site.

It was the second time that Hass has designed audio for this tent and he was very pleased with the results. He used a Soundcraft Vi600 console, chosen because it is ‘straightforward and simple’. Being DJs there wasn’t a need for multiple plug-ins and other magical tricks, ‘It’s all down to tuning, EQ and control of the system’ confirms Hass, for which he extensively used the LA Network Manager.

Armin Van Buuren at Creamfields

‘You have to be genuinely interested in the music to hit the spot with a dance artist’ he states, ‘It’s hugely more than two faders. What the DJ is playing changes second-by-second, it’s a completely dynamic audio space, and the sound is like any musical instrument – you have to listen to how they are playing it.’

This is one reason that dance artists frequently have their own engineers onboard from an early stage.

At the stage end, the role of the monitor engineer is equally important to ensure that the artist hears and feels all the right things, because without that, they can’t connect to the crowd and that relationship is right at the core of the electronic music experience – DJs don’t sing or chat to the audience, they build up their rapport through the music.

Hass notes that audiences are also educated in what they want to hear at events, which is a large part of why they are into specific genres of dance music – the subs need to be sweet and strong and the low-mids are also important to bring a good, clean assertive punch.

In CF03 they specified a ‘classic’ DJ monitor set-up with two L-Acoustics SB18s per side and three Karas sitting on top mixed by Adlib’s Matt Gadsby using a Soundcraft Vi1.

Hass mixed most of the artists on CF03, only Armin van Buuren brought his own engineers. His favourite set of the weekend was Above & Beyond, who headlined Saturday night’s Mega line-up and absolutely smashed it.

In CF05, a Coda AiRay sound system was specified, which has been used before in the space and proved ideal for delivering the clarity, detail, low end and general sonic excellence required for this tent, which saw high-energy performances from Paul van Dyk, Ferry Corsten, Sander van Doorn, Timmy Trumpet, Rob Harnetty and loads more leading and emerging artists.

Four groundstacks of six AiRay cabinets were positioned around the curvature of the arena, two either side of the DJ with another two further out along the wings, ensconced in the LED video panel design that visually defined The Curve. Twelve Coda TiRay were used for in fill and 22 subs comprised ten Coda SC2-Fs and 12 Coda SC-8s. The DJ monitors were a mix of L-Acoustics dV-Dosc speakers running with dV-Subs for plenty of oomph.

The console here was a DiGiCo SD9, and Adlib also supplied a Shure radio mic package, as in the other arenas.

CF10 Hospitality saw another Coda sound system design, featuring eifgt Airline LA12 speakers with six TiRay out fills, running with SCP-F subs for the main system, complete with Adlib’s proprietary AA speakers for DJ monitors along with some Adlib MP4 wedges, and a Soundcraft Si desk for control. ‘We always love working on this event – being a Liverpool brand, popular, friendly and very well organised, we are very proud it’s earned its place as one of the best loved dance festivals worldwide,’ Byatt comments.

‘We have a great relationship with LarMac Live, and Creamfields always involves a lot of suppliers collaborating and working together, with plenty of inter-company camaraderie and teamwork. I think this is one of the things making it a truly unique festival production phenomenon.’


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