Millions of Singaporeans celebrated their National Day Parade 2022 on 9 August, with events taking place across the island. The focal point of the festivities was The Float @ Marina Bay, where marching bands, live performances and the National Day theme song ‘Stronger Together’ were heard via a d&b audiotechnik KSL system flown high above the stage.
“This was the first time we used the d&b KSL system for the National Day Parade (NDP), having used d&b J-Series in previous years, and I was impressed by both clarity and coverage,” says Peter Loh, Technical Director, NDP 2022, who has worked on the parade and show eleven times. “I just loved everything that came out. The character of the sound was great – I asked the sound engineer and sound designer to up the game for this show, to challenge them to get the best out of the d&b KSL system, and they did it with brilliant balance.”
Commissioned to help specify and supply the d&b system for the National Day Parade was Singapore-based Showtec Group, with Danial Rawi Bober, NDP 2022 Audio Project Manager, Showtec Group, at the helm.
“I’ve listened to a lot of speakers, but the d&b KSL system offers fantastic, accurate coverage and even dispersion, which was key for this event,” says Bober. “We needed a powerful system to transfer the sound to the audience over a large area and in an open-air, outside setting, and the KSL system with its maximum SPL of 145 dB was the perfect choice.”
Rigged in a left-right position on crane-like truss towers on the specially constructed main stage at The Float, with beautiful views of the harbour and the famous Marina Bay, were d&b KSL8 loudspeakers in a line array formation. Further KSL12 loudspeakers joined the flown line arrays, along with d&b SL-SUB subwoofers. Showtec’s existing d&b J8 were used for infills and a series of Y7P loudspeakers on delay poles. For monitoring, the team positioned d&b M4 2-way high-performance monitors on the stage for accurately defined coverage for performers. A series of KSL8 loudspeakers and SL-SUB subwoofers were also ‘hidden’ as ground stacks, out of direct view of the audience or cameras, to maintain sightlines and the aesthetic of the staging and set design. The entire d&b system was powered by 63 d&b D80 amplifiers. Developed with energy efficiency in mind, the d&b KSL system is able to provide equivalent sound pressure output levels with reduced power requirements when paired with the d&b amplifiers.
Shah Tahir, Sound Designer, NDP 2022, has enjoyed an extensive career in theatre and events audio and has served as a sound designer for the NDP for ten years. He worked closely with the technical team to design speaker placement and tune the sound. “This is probably the biggest show for me and quite a challenging one every year,” he says. “If you look at a floating platform at The Float, you can understand why. There’s such a big gap between the left and the right towers, but it’s vital for the sound to be clear for the parade ceremony, which is the main component of the NDP.
“The entire NDP team wanted this to be a celebration – especially after the pandemic – and therefore, the sound needed to be full of dynamics and enthusiasm, to reproduce the emotion of the performances, speeches and this year’s theme song. Using the new d&b KSL system, we managed to balance out the coverage despite the restrictions and space between the towers and achieve even better tonal quality and volume than we’ve ever had before.”
Tahir and the team utilised the d&b ArrayProcessing and ArrayCalc software to design the system for NDP, creating a solution that, as Tahir says, helped to “smooth out the volume from left to right and provide consistent coverage” across the venue and fine-tune what different areas would hear.
“The system actually looked quite small when we rigged it all, but I continue to be impressed by the volume, coverage, punch and quality from cabinets with a relatively small footprint,” adds Tahir. “The KSL system delivered everything we wanted.”
“The thing about Marina Bay and The Float is that it’s situated right in the middle of quite a built-up area of hotels and skyscrapers, as well as open water, so we need a lot of control over sound dispersion and coverage,” explains Daryl Michael, NDP 2022 Audio System Engineer, Showtec Group. “When we first fired up the system and walked on the stage to listen to the d&b KSL system, it’s probably one of the most amazing things we’ve heard – having all that sound control, going to one place only, and not bleed into all the hotels around us is pretty amazing.”
Michael collaborated with Tahir in ArrayCalc to design the KSL line array system, explore the acoustic response of the space, and predict the performance of the loudspeakers in the outdoor, downtown environment, using the d&b R1 Remote control software to generate a simulation from which to cement a solution.
“We certainly wanted to pull this event off because it was the first big national celebration following pandemic restrictions, and it was going to be watched by thousands at The Float as well as millions in Singapore and around Asia on TV,” Michael continues. “Therefore, ArrayCalc really helped us predict the conditions and performance of the system, informing the sound tweaks and system design. The Marina Bay area can be exposed to lots of wind, affecting high frequencies, and with temperatures edging to 30 degrees Celsius, we needed to consider heat and humidity. ArrayCalc helped us remove the guesswork and save lots of time on-site.
“The NDP also required absolute clarity of sound mixed with high impact punch – it’s often the case that large amounts of big loudspeakers in an outdoor environment leads to muddiness, but with the KSL system, we delivered clear sound across the entire floating stage platform and into the audience seating area.”
Anand Narayanan, President and CEO of d&b audiotechnik Asia-Pacific, comments: “We consider it a great honour and a privilege to be associated with the Singapore National Day Parade and in having supplied the latest high-end audio technology solutions to this special event. We would like to express our gratitude to our partner, Showtec Singapore, for having the vision to invest in the d&b KSL Series and make it available, and to the National Day Parade technical team and organising committee for collaborating with us to deliver a unique listening experience.”
The celebrations at The Float @ Marina Bay began with a ‘Strength of the Nation’ segment, which included a display by the Singapore Armed Forces, followed by a choir performance of the NDP 2022 theme song and a mix of live performances and film marking Singapore’s history. Events at the 27,000-capacity The Float @ Marina Bay were beamed live on television across Asia and around the world.