Insomniac, one of the largest electronic musical festival companies in the United States, recently hosted an art car at Burning Man that featured a Powersoft Digimod driven mobile sound system. Sound Investment Audio, the production company that provides sound, video and lighting for the majority of Insomniac events, was tapped to create the mobile system.
Burning Man is an annual week-long art and lifestyle festival that takes place in the playa, an ancient lake bed in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Art cars are painted, decorated and altered mobile objects that serve as transport of artistic expression of some kind during the festival.
"To further celebrate their 10 year anniversary, Insomniac decided to create an art car that could provide electronic/DJ music while transporting people around the dessert," explains Todd Konecny, lead sound system designer for Sound Investment Audio."We ended up designing and creating a fully mobile PA capable of providing extremely high output dance music that could also withstand that 100+ degree heat, ultrafine dust, and occasional windstorm that occurs during Burning Man."
[Photo caption: The Insomniac art car with front and back views of the mobile system stacks.]
The mobile PA consisted of custom left and right Funktion One loudspeaker stacks mounted on individual carts. Each of the stacks were powered by Powersoft DigiMod 3000PFC amplifier modules sealed in custom designed "closets" bolted to the subwoofer stacks. The two stack carts were pushed and pulled in front of and behind the car with the generator cart tagging along at the end. The car itself was built upon a 16-foot dual axle truck equipped with a custom DJ booth and VIP seating for at least 40 people. The VIP area was covered by its own Funktion One loudspeaker system, powered by a third Powersoft amplifier module closet.
"The idea was that they could unhitch and position the loudspeaker stacks to the left and right of the car and have a high-end electronic dance party happening anywhere," Konecny adds. "We even designed the main system to work on a stand-alone basis so that they could leave the main PA up and running and take the car to cruise around the playa."
Each of the main stacks consisted of three Funktion One F221 double 21-inch subwoofers and four custom Funktion One 10-inch and 1-inch mid/high loudspeakers configured to sit on the subwoofer stack.
Each cart amplifier closet held seven DigiMod 3000PFC modules. Six of the modules running in bridge configuration powered the six 21" subwoofers drivers, providing approximately 3,400 watts to each driver. The seventh amp module drove the mid/high 10-inch drivers on one channel and the 1-inch drivers on the other.
Each of the closets had the air intake exhaust filtered using a high performance automobile filter. The air output was filtered to prevent dust from the playa from getting in and contaminating the closet when the blower was not running. The blowers themselves were on thermostats so that they were exchanging air only when the interior temps were high, keeping the amount of dust that the filters have to deal with to a minimum. For convenience, the filters were washable in the field so that they could stay clean. The closets were equipped with a single twist lock power connection providing three phases of 30A service.
"The DigiMod modules were run on two legs of the three phase service, so they were running at 208Vac," adds Konecny. "Since there were six modules running identical low end programming, this approximated a fairly balanced load to the power connection."
Konecny continues, "In order to be prepared for any scenario we designed the closets so that individual modules could be replaced through the front panel without powering down the system. Fortunately the need never arose, the Powersoft modules were terrific."
The car itself was equipped with an additional F221 subwoofer and two Function One AX88 mid-high loudspeakers. The third amplifier closet, loaded with six DigiMod 3000PFC modules, powered this system. The Insomniac art car was a non-stop mobile fixture of entertainment throughout the Burning Man festival. Aptly titled the Insomniac "Wide Awake" car, it garnered "Best in Show" for art cars at the event. Since then it continues to offer a full lineup of local artists and special guests during various events hosted by Insomniac in the greater Los Angeles area.