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Sound Relief 2009

The Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria brought out an amazing amount of support from the community to those whose lives had been so greatly affected. The Australian Music Industry has always been there to support in the past and this was no exception.

The idea of Sound Relief was brought to life with the running of two simultaneous concerts at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Johnston Audio was asked to supply the audio system for the MCG event. What followed was an amazing four week period to produce the event. The story of the event’s development and artist involvement has been well documented elsewhere. We went to work on designing and installing a system for Midnight Oil, Split Enz, Hunters and Collectors, Wolfmother, Jack Johnson, Gabriella Cilmi, Jet, Paul Kelly, Bliss n Eso and Liam Finn to perform in front of the largest ever paying audience for a music concert in Australia.

So with a sold out 82,000 strong crowd at the MCG to cover and a special set of conditions we set about designing a system for the job.

Bruce Johnston and Jock Bain have been doing big shows in big stadiums for a long time, and designed a system that has worked well over the years. This included outer hangs of 15 V-Dosc cabinets and due to the low stage roof height we were only able to fly 12 cabinets per side for the main hangs. The roof also presented an issue with the point positions and we had to fly the main hangs further upstage than we would have liked.
Each outer hang was accompanied by a “tower of power” of 12 flown Wayloud dual 18” subs. A further 36 Wayloud subs – in 6 x pods of 6 – were positioned across the front of the stage.

The delay systems brought their own set of issues to the job. The MCG would not allow a crane on the arena to position large towers, so we were left with no option but to use 8 metre towers for the main delay arrays. Two delay towers were utilised, each with 15 Nexo Geo T cabinets. As the MCG is a 3 level stadium we all knew that the towers would not cover the job properly.
Tim Millikan became involved with the project to design the delay system required and to plot the overall system. Tim was a key part of the audio team at the Days in the Diocese Mass at Telstra Dome in 2008 and his understanding of the requirements of a large stadium system design was of great assistance.

Because of the restrictions with delay towers, Tim suggested that we bring in a delay ring positioned on the outside of the playing surface to throw to the upper levels of grandstands. Norwest Productions came to the party with 42 Kudo cabinets distributed over 14 wheeled carts.

The end result was great coverage everywhere and a great result. We went to the fifth level of the grandstand and were amazed how good it sounded at the very back row!

In the FOH tower, there were 4 DigiDesign Profile consoles – A & B boards, a set up / back up console for engineers to prepare their show, and Midnight Oil were carrying their own console package. Stage left saw 4 x Yamaha PM5-D RH consoles running monitors in the same configuration as out front. The monitor system was Nexo PS 15 wedges with Nexo LS1200 drum subs and Nexo S12 flown side fill.

The system patch was set up under the stage with Matt “Boz” Boaro in charge, with two fully independent stage patch systems to facilitate full line check for FOH, Monitors and Broadcast/Record before each act was rolled on stage into position. The result– not one miss-patch and Broadcast/Record crews saying that it was the best feed and communications design that they had ever encountered.

Sound Relief was an amazing event to be involved in – the spirit of camaraderie and cooperation was outstanding, and the production values achieved were extraordinary. We would like to thank Norwest for supplying their services to help make such a large event happen. Chris Kennedy and Richard Bilinski did not hesitate in offering their equipment and staff for such a great cause.

The Sound Relief Production Team included Nick Pitts as Event Manager with Stig Moor as Production Manger. Assisting Nick and Stig were Larry Ponting , Dugald McAndrew, Howard Freeman, Scrooge Madigan and Geoff Maher.

A huge vote of thanks and acknowledgement of a great job must also go to the Johnston Audio team who were outstanding throughout the event’s build, operation and pull down.

And finally, in a delicious dose of irony, the heavens opened throughout the day – it rained and rained, breaking Melbourne ‘s drought and bringing much needed relief to the final fires still blazing.


March 14, 2009

Audio Crew

System Design

Tim Millikan
Chief System Engineer Robert “Jock” Bain


Doug Pringle
Josh de Jong


Paul Kennedy
Richie Robinson


Simon Keet
Matthew “Boz” Boaro
Nicholas Brunney
Shaun Ayles
Otavio “Guto” Santos

Main system

54 x Vdosc
60 x Wayloud 218 subs
12 x Arc
6 x Dvdosc front fill

First delay

24 x Nexo GEO T 4805 Array cabinets
6 x Nexo GEO T 2815 Array cabinets

Second Delay

42 x Kudo split down to 3 boxes per cart.

FOH Control

3 x Digidesign Profile consoles.

Monitor Control

3 x Yamaha PM5DRH consoles

Monitor system

16 x Nexo PS15 Wedges
2 x Nexo LS1200 subs
8 x Nexo S12 line array sidefills

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