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Case Study: Gorge Amphitheatre, WA

In a summer of Covid and wildfires, the Main Stage at the spectacular Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA hosted the three-day country music Watershed Festival with over 26,000 in attendance and a Brandi Carlile homecoming with a crowd of 15,000 in attendance.

For both events, Carlson Audio, Seattle, provided a d&b audiotechnik J-Series loudspeaker series.

“Our production manager Morgan Hodge used both d&b ArrayCalc and NoizCalc to predict how the PA would react in a venue that presents several challenges,” states Jesse Turner, front of house engineer and crew chief. “The Gorge is an asymmetrical natural amphitheater that has evolved over the years but is basically a stage built on the side of a cliff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. We created layers in ArrayCalc to be able to have a symmetrical sounding system for FOH but also utilize the advancements that ArrayProcessing has given us in system clarity and control.”

Whereas d&b ArrayCalc software simulates the coverage of the loudspeaker systems inside the venue, NoizCalc is used to accurately predict noise emissions outside the venue to help plan for the environmental impact of outdoor events.

The d&b configuration for the Watershed Main Stage PA includes 20 x J-Series in AP per side, 16 x J8s with 4 x J12s at the bottom. 12 x J-tops were used per side for out fills, 10 x J8s with 2 x J12s at the bottom; 24 x B2 subwoofers split into left and right stack to accommodate video and staging, 6 x Q7s were used for front fill; 3 delay towers of 8 x Vs-Series, 4 x V8s over 4 x V12s. The rig was all powered by 98 channels of D80 amplifiers and 36 channels of D20s. “All amps were connected via a DANTE network through 1 DS10 amplifier per side of the stage and Dante AVIO adapters for the Dela systems on the hill allowing us to quickly change configurations since some artists specified varying signal path requirements; for example, stereo subs,” Turner said.

Monitor Engineer for the Watershed Festival manned a DiGiCo SD12. “The festival rig had Shure PS 1000s for IEMs, and d&b M4s for floor monitors,” states Vince Agne. “Sidefills were 4 x d&b Q1s over a pair of V-SUBS on each side and drum subs were Q-SUBs. All speakers were powered with D12s. Even though The Gorge Amphitheatre is a big stage, there is not much room for wing space. When you get 3-4 country band monitor rigs setup, all of a sudden you have a monitor engineer that is part of the show on stage. Having a d&b rig flown in the air, subs and wedges that are light/easy to move, but can still put out some SPL, and two racks of D12s to power it all, we were able to make our footprint very small.

Through The Gorge winds, 100+ degree days, smoke from nearby wildfires, everything worked without a hitch.”

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