On February 21st, AbhangaNaad: The Voice of Devotion took place on the University Grounds of Shivaji University in Kolhapur. Featuring approximately 2,500 Warkari (devotees of Lord Vithoba) singing in unison and accompanied by 1,350 Dhols (traditional Indian ‘dhangar’drums), the event celebrated divine love in the presence of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, also known as guruji. This massive concert attracted more than 120,000 devotees plus another 3 million television viewers throughout India. Sound reinforcement for an event of this magnitude required loudspeaker systems that could project over a large area with excellent speech intelligibility and music reproduction characteristics, and that’s exactly what attendees experienced—thanks to the solid performance attributes of D.A.S. Audio’s Aero Series line array system.
Organized in a bid to attract youth to Indian folk traditions, AbhangaNaad featured devotional songs and meditation as its base. Further, the concert was officially entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the largest such events of its kind. This all took place on the biggest stage ever erected in Kolhapur and the venue had a circumference of almost 20 acres. Mumbai, India-based Sound and Light Professionals, a highly respected sound reinforcement and lighting company involved in equipment sales, rentals, installations, and services for the pro touring and special events markets, was contracted to handle sound reinforcement for the event. Manish Mavani, the company’s Director, discussed the project and his reason for selecting D.A.S. equipment.
“The concert took place on a magnificent multi-tier stage that was around 200 feet wide by 80 feet deep, and 15 feet in height,” Mavani explained. “Sculptures from various temples and replicas of Lord Mahalaxmi, Jotiba, and Vitthal adorned the stage. Accompanied by the choir and the drums, noted devotional singers Ajit Karkare, Balasaheb Waikar, and Tukaram Powar sang abhangs and bhajans (devotional songs). The fact that the venue grounds were arranged in two levels posed a unique challenge for us. Secondly, with the stage being 200 feet wide, the sound convergence at the center of the ground from the left-right stacks posed additional issues. Fortunately, our EASE Focus calculations and the broad horizontal dispersion of the Aero 48’s really helped us achieve remarkably even coverage throughout the area.”
For the primary FOH (front of house) hangs, Mavani and his crew, which consisted of system engineer OS Cijith, FOH mix engineer Ramdas Kalasker, and stage engineer Pramod Vetker, flew four loudspeaker clusters per left-right side —each consisting of eight D.A.S. Audio Aero 48 large format line array elements. For center fill coverage, the Sound and Light Professionals team deployed an additional stack of four Aero 48’s. These were augmented by several D.A.S. Aero CA-28 line array modules spread across the front of the stage for front fill coverage. Three delay towers—each with eight D.A.S. Audio Aero 48’s and positioned roughly 150 feet apart—completed the setup.
For the musicians’ and vocalists’ monitoring system, Mavani’s crew placed another twenty custom loudspeaker columns. These columns consisted of a combination of D.A.S. Audio’s Avant 12A powered 2-way loudspeaker enclosures and Sound and Light Professionals’ own proprietary loudspeakers. Lab Gruppen PLM 10000Q Powered Loudspeaker Management systems and XTA DP448 processors completed the system.
AbhangaNaad: The Voice of Devotion was a resounding success that brought His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, along with record numbers of musicians and vocalists together for a concert that reached a record setting audience. Mavani offered these parting thoughts. “Being a music- and dance-based show, sound was a major factor,” he said. “Our aim was to ensure every note from the stage—be it the choir of 2500 vocalists, the drum beats of the 1000+ drummers, or the soft meditative speech of guruji , reached the audience in its proper dynamics and presence. This is where the D.A.S. Audio Aero 48’s versatility showed up brilliantly. While some of the performers initially had concerns over how their singing would come out over the sound system, ultimately, they were amazed at the clarity we achieved—all due to the exceptional horizontal coverage of the Aero 48’s. By the time the program ended, the organizers, musicians and, most importantly, the audience were all extremely pleased. Since that time, we’ve been re-hired for more such future events. When one project leads to another, that’s as good as it gets.”