Following a year-long hiatus, the Eurovision Song Contest returned this year with a lavish production that met the immense expectations of dedicated Eurovision fans the world over. Hosted at the Rotterdam Ahoy, the contest was organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and host broadcasters Nederlandse Publieke Omroep (NPO), Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) and AVROTROS. Ampco Flashlight was awarded the role of Official Technical Supplier, with group member Purple Group supplying an extensive L-Acoustics loudspeaker system as part of the overall audio-visual requirements. Erwin Rintjema of Sightline Productions was leading the ESC-team as Head of Production.
This landmark event was The Netherlands’ first show with an audience since the beginning of the pandemic, and careful attention was paid to current restrictions, including testing for every crew member and the 3,500 attendees before each show. Jeroen ten Brinke was ESC Head of Live Sound. Ten Brinke designed an audio system around L-Acoustics K and X Series, with a total of 300 L-Acoustics cabinets deployed.
Commercial and Operational Director, Dennis van der Haagen, was overseeing the project on behalf of official technical supplier Ampco Flashlight. “Ampco Flashlight was awarded the contract for rigging, lighting and sound,” explains Van der Haagen. “We approached it as a group effort and looked to Purple Group to supply the loudspeaker elements. Jeroen’s spec included three alternative loudspeaker brands, and L-Acoustics was the final choice, with its easy availability and excellent quality. For us, having L-Acoustics and Purple Group in the spotlight with a show as prestigious as Eurovision was a good thing from a group perspective.”
The show’s set design was a departure from the cancelled 2020-show.The green room, used for interviews with the delegates, has traditionally been placed away from the main show space. This year, the green room was located in the centre of the arena floor, directly in front of the stage, with bleacher seating for the audience on three sides of the arena around it.
This created a challenge for the audio team. How could they ensure good coverage for the green room, without the audio from the show itself being too intrusive? Ten Brinke’s design proposed a ‘shower’ configuration, with three hangs of six K2 per side being flown from the central rigging system above and facing down over the green room. Six hangs of 10 K1, each positioned in front of a hang of three KS28 subs facing outside of the green room area, covering the main audience bleacher seating to the sides and back. Two hangs of 12 Kara, each topped with two SB18 subs served as side-fill for the seating at either side of the stage, with a further central hang of Kara and SB18, plus left right hangs of 10 K1, covering the seating at the back of the arena. A total of ten 5XT provided under balcony fill, with two hangs of five Kara facing the stage as a monitor system. The entire system was powered by 84 LA12X amplified controllers.
“I love all three speaker brands I specified, but I know that when L-Acoustics is on the list everyone is happy,” says Ten Brinke. “I knew the ‘shower’ for the green room would be a challenge, and that L-Acoustics was the only company that could achieve what we needed to achieve and could send us a rigging certificate to do it that way. It was very busy above main stage, so this configuration also alleviated any issues with the PA being in the way of other set elements.”
“The way the clusters were hung from the central grid was quite special,” concludes Van der Haagen. “Our system techs went literally above and beyond to translate Jeroen’s ideas into physical reality. The cabinets were flown and angled so that the green room and the audience both had good sound, allowing interviews and performances to happen simultaneously. The clearance necessary for the cameras meant the hangs were very high, but L-Acoustics cabinets are very controllable, and we achieved a great result both for the broadcast and in the venue.”