‘Turn it up!’ | Song

Today, music festivals are more than music festivals: pampering of sponsors, “Instagrammable” experiences and amusement park atmosphere have become essential. But the sound is not just a detail.

As one of the themes of Rock in Rio 2022 was the complaint of fans and journalists about the sound volume, g1 interviewed audio professionals who worked at the festival to clarify the doubts about the sound of the festivals. This report is divided into themes:

1 – Who was heard by g1?

g1 made contact with the members of the sound teams of all brazilian attractions on the world stage and the main ones on the Sunset Stage. Five professionals have agreed to answer general questions about festivals and to answer more specific questions about this edition of Rock in Rio:

  • Marcelo Sabóia, Audio Technician from Djavan (recall show)
  • Ricardo Moreira, producer of Capital Inicial (reminder show)
  • Luiz Clemente, sound technician at Jota Quest (recall show)
  • Márcio Glaser, sound technician for Ludmilla (recall show)
  • Ewerton Leandro Manca, audio technician at Gabisom, a company that provides services to Rock in Rio

“We were somewhat surprised to receive inquiries about the sound level, which came from some specific shows, because the sound system is the same for all shows,” says Ewerton. “There were no glitches in the sound, just different volume levels from band to band.” Most technicians heard by g1 add that professionals outside Brazil generally work with lower sound pressure than heard in Brazilian shows.

Rock in Rio preferred not to answer questions about the positive and negative aspects of the sound in this edition. Only one statement was released: “The organization of the event specifies that the operation and control of the soundboard is the responsibility of the artist.”

2 – How is the sound system of a main stage?

It is common for there to be three rows of loudspeakers on large stages: one in the front, one in the middle and one further back. Palco Mundo’s sound equipment, according to professionals who were at Rock in Rio, is on par with international festivals. The responsible company is Gabisom, considered one of the best in the world in the field.

The dressing rooms away from the stages are in increasingly thin towers, in an attempt to obstruct the view of the fans as little as possible. These tricks are called delay tricks. The speakers receive the signal and play the music a few milliseconds later: the delay is equivalent to the time the sound travels between the speakers close to the stage and the other speakers.

The front of the stage boxes are for those who are very close, stuck in the railing. Those there are struggling to hear the main speakers in the corners: the PA, an acronym for Public Hearing. If big screens are giant televisions, these amplifiers are like giant speakers.

The place that controls this whole system is the house mix. The mixing house has equipment and sound professionals to combat natural barriers: the weather can make sound propagation difficult.

“Rain makes the situation much worse, as it creates a water mass barrier and sound propagation becomes more complicated. Everything in the weather is involved. The heat gets involved and the wind at the time of the show can be horrible for the sound. “, explains Marcelo Sabóia, technician of Djavan, one of the concerts with the most acclaimed sound of Rock in Rio.

It’s hard to define the sound level, but Ewerton explains that it’s normal for it to always be close to 100 decibels on the Mundo stage, considering that the sound technician doing the measurement is in the house mix. This noise is comparable to that of a drill drilling into the wall, close to a person.

3 – How is the sound system on a secondary floor?

In secondary spaces, like the Sunset Stage at Rock in Rio, the only speakers are close to the stage. Since there are no speakers in the middle or back, some fans further away can’t hear the songs well.

Sunset’s sound system also came into question in 2019, Ewerton recalled. He says the lack of late laps “is a decision of the Rock in Rio board of directors.” “They thought of Sunset as a ‘stage 2’. That’s why the whole structure was smaller. This should change for the next editions. The sunset will undergo transformations, everything will grow”, guarantees the technician Gabisom.

Márcio Glaser, sound technician for Ludmilla, owner of g1’s Best Sunset Show, agrees with Ewerton. “I think Sunset was not intended for such a large audience as Ludmilla’s. For this reason, the sound of this scene was not sized for such a large audience,” he says.

Even so, he guarantees that the equipment was able to respond to the fans filling the space, because there was a “residue of power”. “I had to play at a slightly louder volume than I would have played during a normal show,” Glaser explains. But he says you have to be careful: if the sound is too loud, it can disrupt the Espaço Favela show.

4 – Why do some programs sound weaker than others?

For Luiz Clemente, sound technician at Jota Quest, many international technical teams are more accustomed to lowering sound pressure levels. “These are countries that are stricter in terms of sound level”, he contextualizes. He believes that technicians outside of Brazil generally prefer a lower volume. “They have it in the culture, it’s to their liking. I recently went to the United States and watched musicals and was bothered by the sound being so low. There was no emotion.”

Ewerton Leandro Manca has a similar assessment. For him, “the vast majority” of gringos work with less volume during trade shows. As already explained, the sound system is only one, but there are adaptations according to the demand of the attractions.

“In Guns, the coach took down the catwalk and put a rail on the stage so that Axl wouldn’t go to the sides. At Coldplay, they widened the track and it moved to mix house. Everyone has their own way of working”, illustrates Ricardo Moreira, technical producer at Capital Inicial. Dinho’s band Ouro Preto put on an acclaimed sound show, but made it into g1’s worst show list due to the repeated setlist and lack of big surprises in the arrangements.

5 – What was the worst sound of Rock in Rio?

At Rock in Rio this year, two shows were most affected by the low sound:

  • Iron Maiden on the world stage;
  • and Avril Lavigne on the Sunset stage.

The British group and the Canadian singer, however, did not say anything about the sound. The only artist to complain publicly was Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens. The pop punk veteran delivered an embarrassing rendition of the ballad “Eyes Without a Face”: He missed the entrance twice and seemed lost during the song.

“As for the negative comments about our performance at Rock In Rio, especially ‘Eyes Without A Face,’ we just couldn’t hear anything at Rock In Rio,” Stevens wrote on Twitter.

Moreira worked on Avril Lavigne’s show in São Paulo, before Rock in Rio. “She has a very small show. His voice alone is hard to mix. At the São Paulo show, she was very weak, but I don’t know what it was. Her production people said she had a cold and I don’t know why. She suffered and made a show of less than an hour. It was quite short,” he recalls. Avril has Lyme disease.

Avril Lavigne’s almost inaudible show at Rock in Rio could therefore be explained by the vocal output of the singer below what is expected, added to the lower sound power of the Sunset Stage.

Remember how the two shows went:

Iron Maiden put on a big show with a little sound

Iron Maiden Puts on a Big Show on Rock in Rio 202 Opening Night

The start of the show was cold. The group came to play three tracks from the new album, “Senjutsu,” and the sound was weak and muffled. Some of the audience complained and asked to increase the volume. It was a shame, because the new record is great and the band seemed to play well for what little we heard. But the lack of sound and public disinterest in new stuff spoke louder (softer, in fact). Then the volume and the repertoire changed and the audience was won over. Read the full Iron Maiden show review.

Avril Lavigne tried to sing on ‘Palco Mudo’

Check out the best moments from Avril Lavigne's concert at Rock in Rio

Check out the best moments from Avril Lavigne’s concert at Rock in Rio

There were people who complained that Avril Lavigne sang on the Sunset Stage, and not on the Mundo Stage. Little did they know it would be worse: she performed on the “silent stage”. The volume was so low that the audience hardly heard anything. A refrain of “turn it up” was more audible than the first song, “Girlfriend”. Gradually everyone stopped begging for more volume. In “Complicated”, it was only possible to hear the voices of the fans. There was even a scuffle. Read the full review of Avril Lavigne’s show.

6 – What was the best sound of Rock in Rio?

At this year’s Rock in Rio, two Palco Mundo concerts were among the best on the g1 list and did not disappoint in terms of sound quality and weight: green day and Ivete Sangalo.

Green Day made punk pop with a heavy sound

Green Day wins over Rock in Rio audiences with hits and lots of energy

Green Day wins over Rock in Rio audiences with hits and lots of energy

In twenty minutes, Green Day had already done by far the best Rock in Rio show so far (and it was not surpassed): Billie Joe devil, a fan on stage singing “Know your enemy”, another couple of fans getting engaged and the biggest crowd to gather outside the Mundo stage in 2022. The repertoire was dominated by 2004’s “American Idiot”, with less room for the band’s other great album, “Dookie” (1994), and a very powerful sound. Read the full Green Day show review.

Ivete Sangalo even played Guns on guitar

See the best moments of Ivete Sangalo's show

See the best moments of Ivete Sangalo’s show

Ivete Sangalo has taken over an adapted version of the show which celebrates its 50th anniversary, completed in May. The tour goes through different moments of its career, from the days of Banda Eva (“Beleza Rara”, “Me Abraça” and the song that bears the group’s name) to recent and less relevant releases, such as “Moral”, by 2022. . search by g1, Lázzaro Jesus, Ivete’s sound technician, said he did not feel “comfortable commenting” on the sound of the festival. Read the full review of Ivete Sangalo’s show.

Laura Davis

"Total troublemaker. Alcohol aficionado. Social media specialist. Friendly travel nerd."

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