Harmony Central Forums
No announcement yet.

I'm curious so I thought I'd ask.

  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • I'm curious so I thought I'd ask.

    I was reading lately about the U2 concert with its huge sound system, a 196' x 45' video screen plus a huge lighting array. So, I was wondering, when they set these big events up for acts such as U2, AC/DC, Rolling Stones etc., how much power (KVA) do they have to bring in to get everything to function at its best? Is the power conditioned and are the separate requirements (sound, video, lighting) isolated from each other? How does this all work? I'm a behind the scenes guy and what happens to get this all to work is more interesting then the acts themselves for the most part.
    Last edited by Telecruiser; 09-23-2017, 03:05 PM.

  • #2
    Back in the day doing shed shows and stadium shows a company called Show Power would bring in multiple 1000 amp three phase generators.

    Sound would get one usually while lighting and rigging would use others.
    Bill Cronheim
    Entertainment Systems Corporation
    Back stage since 1965
    Equipment specialist since 1973


    • #3
      I found this on a forum from a few years ago.

      I work on the electrical team at a music festival in Monterey every year. On an extremely large one, one year over 20,000 on Saturday night. We hooked into shore power with three transformers. 150 KVA for video, 300 KVA for sound, and 450 KVA for lighting.

      That's a lot of freekin' power!
      Last edited by Telecruiser; 09-24-2017, 02:01 PM.


      • #4
        Most new arenas have lots of power available. The newest one in my area (based on my memory) has something like 6 400A and 2 200A, all 3 phase with cam outlets on panels, plus a bunch of 50A range plugs, which is all duplicated on each side of where the stage is typically set up, plus 2 200A near the dock for broadcast and recording trucks, plus a bunch of shore power for buses. It's a ton of power, and much more than any other venue in this area has by at least double, if not triple. I'd be surprised if they ever ran out of places to tie a show in or maxed out what they have.

        One theater I do a lot of work in has 3 400A and 1 200A 3 phase services. Another theater only has 1 400A, and 1 200A, but there's another 100A panel that's in another room (in a smaller theater in the same buiding) so it's a little hard to get to, and all that for the size of the venue the power is actually a little limiting. Some older or smaller places just have one service, or one smaller and one larger service, (one for sound and one for lights, typically), maybe a 100A and a 400A, or 100A & 200A, or 200A & 400A. It's definitely best for audio to have it's own power, since dimmers can cause serious noise problems.

        Typically all these services are each on their own transformer, so there's very little interaction between them, but they're not otherwise isolated beyond that. Usually sound, lighting, and video will all tie in separately, and sometimes they need more than one service for each area (lots of conventional lighting takes lots of power). Sometimes there are other things that need another separate tie in, like rigging or recording. Sometimes an act will have their own distro that needs it's own tie in beyond the normal audio/lighting/video services. Video sometimes ties in with other things (audio or lighting, for example), depending on the show and how large the video system is.

        With everything becoming more efficient, especially lighting, that can help keep power draws down somewhat. Although, it also allows shows to add more stuff (like more lights and huge video walls), so I don't think many shows are actually using less power than before.

        So, as usual, it depends. But big shows use a lot of power, that's for sure.


        • #5
          It all depends...

          The venues I typically worked had between 200 and 400 amps for lighting (most had in-house lighting packages as well), a 200-400 amp for second lighting and/or video package, a 200 amp for audio, and usually some smaller ones for trade show, motors, shore power etc. This is all 3 phase, and in venues ~4000 seats and smaller

          Bigger venues might have 6 or 8 of the 400 amp, a couple 200 amp and some 100 amp plus trade show power, shore power and motor power.

          The reason why you see 400 amps as the largest connection size is that the largest feeder commonly used in the entertainment industry is 4/0, which can be protected by a 400 amp main breaker. 400 amps, 3 phase is about 150 kVA. Folks who connect directly to a 1200 amp bus without feeder overcurrent protection are simply fools, because a fault of that magnitude can cause a lot of damage in the time it takes to clear the fault. There have been a few spectacular stage fires at festivals recently, it appears that all were power related.

          The biggest distribution panels I worked on (in my industrial/commercial engineering days) was 2000 amps and 480 volts. That's 2800 kVA, and the impedances are so low that the fault currents can rip bus bars from their mounting brackets without overcurrent devices with proper interrupting current ratings. These are fault currents of between 65,000 and 100,000 amps.
          Former product development engineer: Genz Benz, a KMC Music/FMIC/JAM Industries Company, continuing factory level product support and service for Genz Benz

          Currently product development engineer: Mesa Boogie


          • #6
            Ok, I found this. This is definetly the big leagues. I wonder how long it takes to plan this from start to finish?

            Seeing as they outdo themselves every tour I wonder what the equipment line up was for their latest "Joshua Tree" tour?

            The Sound Systems of U2

            07 Jan 2015

            Through the 1990s and 2000s, U2 launched some of the most ambitious tours ever staged.

            The 1992-93 Zoo TV stage included 36 different video screens that showed fast cuts of live and pre-recorded video. The stage itself stretch 248 feet by 80 feet. The production required 176 speaker enclosures, 312 subwoofers, 592 mid-range speakers, 18 projectors, 26 microphones and a series of portable video cameras. Everything was directed from a portable studio worth $3.5 million. Fifty-two trucks were required to transport the 1,200 tons of gear. Personnel travelled in 12 buses and a 180-person chartered jet.
            • The 1997-98 PopMart tour featured a 165-foot 150,000 pixel low-resolution LED screen weighing 65,000 pounds and costing $7 million. This made it ten times larger than all 36 of the Zoo TV screens put together. A mono speaker array was housed in a 100-foot parabolic arch over a stage measuring of 181-by-71. Thirty tons of PA equipment generated over one million watts of power. The system included 149 speaker enclosures of various designs and incorporated 298 eighteen inch woofers, 428 10” midrange drivers and 604 high frequency tweeters. Each stage set up took three days and three thousand man-hours to complete. This meant that two separate stages were needed for the tour. The three power generators supplied four million watts of electricity (enough to supply 1,500 homes) through thirteen miles of cable. More than 1,200 tons of equipment and 250 tour personnel were moved in seventy-five semi-trailers, fifteen buses and one customized fifty-seat Boeing 727. An additional 200 people were hired at each stop on the tour.
            • The 2009-2011 360 Tour involved three “Claw” stages, each 167 feet tall (approximately double the size of the massive Rolling Stones Steel Wheels stage) and costing more than $30 million each.
            • Each of the four legs of a Claw contained a separate sound system in order to offer 360-degree sound disbursement
            • The structures were capable of holding 200 tonnes and were transported from show to show via 120 trucks. Load-in required up to 3 ½ days.
            • The elongated video screen consisted of more than one million pieces include 411,000 pixels and 30,000 cables.
            • The tour crew required 137 permanent employees and 120 hired at each stop.
            • Daily overhead of the tour was approximately $750,000 per day.
            • The tour grossed over $736,000,000 through 110 shows.