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Festival Profile

Tackling World Music at Salem World Beat Festival

Alpha Sound aimed for flexibility as it handled sound for everything from Native American powwows to Irish dancing.

Salem, OR (July 11, 2018)—Every year, the Salem World Beat Festival brings the music and traditions of 70 countries to Oregon, fielding 10 stages throughout Riverfront Park for the two-day event. This year, the main stage audio was tackled by local audio production company Alpha Sound.

Given that the festival serves up everything from Irish dancers to a Native American powwow, Alpha aimed for flexibility. Devin Sheets, head engineer. “Given the eclectic and creative nature of so many of the artists and their global instruments, Alpha has experimented with new and unique amplification techniques which immerse the listener in a powerful sense of space and depth of sound.”

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With that in mind, Alpha Sound provided a Nexo STM line array system and Yamaha CL5 Digital Audio Console with two Rio stage boxes. Sheets said the Nexo system was chosen for its handling of the 25-50Hz low frequency range in order to provide “adequate gain in these lower ranges from instruments that are not always designed for integration with modern amplification systems. And, without a center placement option, a decision was made to consolidate the subwoofers to the house right side to produce a very consistent coverage pattern throughout the venue, avoiding stereo comb filtering.”

The main stage system consisted of a dozen STM M46 line array boxes, set out six per side, along with 12 S118 subwoofers set up in cardioid pairs. Additionally two PS15R2 speakers were used for extended L/R, four PS10s were used as surround L/R speakers (2 per channel), and five NX4x4 amplifiers powered it all. Yamaha Rio-3208 and Rio-1608 input/output boxes accompanied the Yamaha CL5 at front of house.

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“The Yamaha CL5 console with Rio preamps further ensured the purity of sound while many processing effects were being used simultaneously, including a special low frequency trick that is used for Taiko drum performances,” says Sheets. “The default channel compressors are particularly clean and accurate for percussive transients, especially when being stressed with low attack and release times. Also, the ability to simply recall a flattened festival scene to begin each new musical group’s soundcheck throughout the day is very useful.”

Sheets added that the client “especially enjoyed the positive reactions from the performers who know that the sound is amazing each year, and that this has, in large part, contributed to the continuing growth of the event.”

Alpha Sound of Oregon •

Yamaha and NEXO •