Zepp Lands Armed and Ready in Taipei
The Zepp Hall Network, part of the concert-going experience in Japan since 1997, has arrived in Taiwan. The Zepp concept, whereby all venues are permanently installed with standardised sound and lighting systems, 4K projection and stage machinery, offers advantages to tour promoters and artists alike. Nine pre-equipped Zepp venues in Daiba, Fukuoka, Haneda, Nagoya, Namba Osaka, Osaka Bay Side, Sapporo, Tokyo and Yokohama allow bands to simply turn up and play without having to stage a full production.
“When I heard that Zepp – which at that time was a 100% subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan – had a plan to develop its concert hall model overseas, it really interested me,” explains Shinichiro Honda, Zepp Hall Network vice president of hall operation division. Honda joined Sony Music Group in 2014, becoming part of a team set up to research expansion into other territories.
In 2017, Zepp formally established Asia Pacific operations out of its native Japan. A joint venture between Zepp Hall Network and Singapore-based Big Box Investment, Zepp@BIGBOX Singapore is a third level conversion at the Jurong East Big Box complex. The decision on what equipment to install in Zepp@BIGBOX was made following dialogue with a Japanese sound consultant who had assisted with all Zepp venues in Japan. Breaking with the Japanese template, a decision was made to employ a Yamaha and NEXO system for Singapore.
“We needed a good support network,” Honda continues. “Yamaha has subsidiaries throughout Asia, offering excellent support for their systems. In addition, sound engineers in Japan are very familiar with Yamaha consoles. We wanted to open the doors to everyone, while at the same time, providing very good sound quality. And that’s why we chose to use Yamaha consoles and NEXO speakers for our first overseas venture.”
The initial choice of location is critical to any further development. A decision to expand the overseas Zepp Hall Network to both Taipei and Kuala Lumpur was made during the installation of Zepp@Bigbox. The Singaporean location in Jurong is situated close to an MRT station and a planned rail terminal to the Malaysian capital in a shopping mall complex. Similarly, the location of the Zepp New Taipei on the eighth to 11th levels of Honhui Plaza is within the expanding dormitory town of Xinzhuang Fuduxin, served by an MRT line connecting the city centre to the international airport.
A local systems integrator was paramount to development and so Honda turned to Yamaha Music Electronics Taiwan for local recommendations. After deliberation, Honda appointed The NineTai Audio Group to assist him in the system design and installation of the audio equipment. Ultimately, a NEXO STM line array loudspeaker system and a Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 digital mixing system operating on a Dante network were selected for the venue. In addition to fulfilling the equipment management contract for the venue, NineTai Audio also deploys sound engineers for those artists and performers who do not come with touring crew.
Seasoned in concert audio production and familiar with the Zepp audio system, NineTai Audio is the confident custodian of the venue’s audio system. “STM is the ideal choice for the venue,” comments NineTai Audio system division manager, Tsai Tsung Che. “In addition to being modular, the STM is a very directional system that can be easily controlled to target the audience without dispersing onto different surfaces. Furthermore, when we need to reconfigure the existing seven-cabinet hang, we simply lower the rig before uncoupling each STM module onto a dolly for redeployment when required. With over 11 sites to their name, we needed to provide Zepp’s clients with consistency in terms of the capacity, accessibility and operability. With rapid changes in technology, it’s important to strike a balance between maintaining the original design and using the latest user-friendly technology.”
The system, designed to be highly efficient and energetic enough for a rock music venue, consists of seven per side STM M46 main modules and seven STM B112 bass units, hung two-deep. Two STM M28 omni purpose modules are suspended from each cluster to provide down fill, and 18 STM S118 subwoofers have been arrayed along the front of the stage to ensure even low frequency coverage. P12 and PS15 are used for stage monitors. The system is driven by 21 NEXO NXAMP4x4 4-channel Powered TD Controller fitted with NXDT104 Mk2 Dante audio network cards, providing a total of 84 amp channels. Side fills consist of four NEXO GEO S1210 cabinets and four LS18 subwoofers, with four GEO M1012s for front fill.
The main STM line array system
NXAMP4x4 powered TD Controllers
The NineTai Audio Group worked remotely with NEXO’s Nicolas Poitrenaud, who assisted with system setup and alignment. NEXO’s NS-1 configuration and simulation software was used to reduce any problematic acoustic issues and to calculate the best solutions for the 4,900m2 room. “Zepp New Taipei is similar to the Japanese venues,” continues Tsai. “With a limited number of loudspeakers, the presence of the upper balcony together with reflections emitting off the back wall and ceiling made even coverage within +/- 3dB quite challenging. The NS-1 calculations really helped us in that respect and saved us a lot of time correcting the rigging. The actual measurements we recorded within the venue mirror the simulations.”
A Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 was selected for FOH, with a CL5 digital mixer on monitors and a QL1 providing a main system feed. The entire system is connected to microphone inputs on stage via RiO3224-D2 I/O racks to the Dante network through dual Yamaha RPio222 I/O rack units and dual SWP1-16MMF L2 network switches. All inputs split to monitor and FOH system, ensuring both full and independent controls for house and monitor engineers. As for FOH system, the RIVAGE PM10 and NEXO NXAMPs are connected via Dante with redundancy with three dual SWP2-10MMF L2 switches.
Tsai and the NineTai Audio team have been using the RIVAGE PM10 console for four years. “It is a highly intuitive, hands-on control surface which has been praised by all our customers on account of its exceptional sonic performance,” he says. “Personally, I have become a fan of the high-quality SILK processing, the eight plugins for inputs and outputs per channel and the flexibility this console offers. In terms of audio quality, it provides so much more clarity, width and definition. It sounds so natural that most people think it is coming from the acoustics rather than the console. We can also use the StageMix App for remote mixing and tuning when required. Future firmware updates will ensure this board is up to date and current – in summary, it’s a great investment.”
With a second level balcony equipped with 291 fixed seats, the hall space is extremely flexible, easily transforming from hosting a 2,245-capacity live performance to a round table banquet or gala dinner setting for 1,025. VIP seats located on the left upper balcony have a clear view of the 14.5m-wide stage. “The venue is quite large and spread out,” adds Tsai. “The redundancy built in over the Dante network between the console, Lake processing and back end has resulted in lower cabling costs, and realtime, stable transmission. We can continually monitor and manage the network from a PC without having to check the individual parameters on location.”
“The local support behind Yamaha in Asia is second to none,” says Honda. “In addition to the performance and reliability of their engineering, this offers you something that no other manufacturer can provide.”
Honda is now involved with the day-to-day running of Zepp New Taipei, working closely with concert promoters to fill the venue. “Right now, life is currently on hold because of the pandemic,” he says. “In Japan we normally run at 80% capacity, with a show almost every day, because there are so many domestic artists who want to play at our venues. In Taiwan, we’re going to host events for the local music industry and overseas artists in addition to corporations, businesses and houses of worship.”
Having dealt successfully with the Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan is nevertheless cautiously practicing similar restrictions on mass gatherings to the rest of the world. The timing for opening Zepp New Taipei will no doubt stunt initial growth, but Japanese philosophy is fixed on the longer term. “We have a five- to 10-year business plan and we don’t expect to start making profits for the first several years,” explains Honda. “We have set up operations in the right location and we have the best facilities to welcome promoters, artists and guests once the restrictions have been eased. We aim to offer a stable platform for culture in Taiwan.”
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RIVAGE PM Series
To fully support the sound engineers who support the artists and performers, Yamaha makes absolutely no compromises when it comes to quality. Sound, operability, and reliability must all be first class, and implemented in a way that allows engineers to concentrate fully on helping artists and performers deliver their message. The RIVAGE PM series embodies this ideal at the highest level, connecting technology, art, and audiences with waves that encircle the world.
Yamaha CL series digital mixing consoles represent a new level of refinement. They offer an evolved experience in accessible mixing, plus sonic purity with sound shaping capabilities that will give the most imaginative engineer unprecedented creative freedom. The CL series embodies the leading standards in live sound in their most advanced, most expressive form.
QL series consoles offer all-in-one mixing, processing, and routing capability for small to medium scale live sound, corporate speech events, installations, and much more.
R Series (AD/DA): 2nd-generation
The second generation of R Series Dante-enabled I/O Racks (AD/DA) offers significant advances in sound, reliability, and visual status confirmation. Together with the CSD-R7 control surface, these I/O Racks are components of the RIVAGE PM7 Digital Mixing System. They can also be used with CL and QL series digital mixing consoles.
The SWP2 series network switch with 10G uplink ports allows a Dante optimized setup and VLAN presets to be recalled by flipping DIP switches.
The SWP1 series network switch allows a Dante optimized setup and VLAN presets to be recalled by flipping DIP switches.
For too long now, the business of a Sound rental company has been dictated by system manufacturers. You need one type of system to be in the touring market, another for corporate jobs, and so on. It all adds up to a lot of boxes that often spend more time in the warehouse than they do on the road. STM changes all that with a system that works the way you work.
GEO M12 takes its place as the flagship of NEXO’s GEO M Series, sharing the same aesthetic and sonic signatures as the acclaimed GEO M10 and compact GEO M6 line arrays.
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POWER & PROCESSING
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