Every year in late October, DJs, artists, dance music fans and industry professionals flock from around the world to the Netherlands’ capital for Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE). Taking over the city for five days, ADE is the world’s leading conference, festival and cultural playground for electronic music. Seminars, product demonstrations, conferences, interactive workshops and parties contribute to the festival’s eclectic programme of 1,000 events.
In 2016, for its 21st annual outing, ADE began a partnership with Pioneer Pro Audio to provide sound systems for all of the festival’s events in its 12 pop-up venues.
When you’re running the most important, most respected event of the year in an industry that revolves around sound, it’s essential to create a flawless audio experience for every presentation, seminar and performance on your programme. “Because we bring the electronic music industry together, we need a really high standard of audio,” explains Gijs Matthee, ADE’s Brand Partnerships Manager. “So, what we want is a really flexible, reliable partner who can help us achieve great sound in multiple venues across the city.”
With extensive experience in delivering audio at similar events such as Ibiza’s International Music Summit and international festivals including Ultra Singapore and Lovebox London, Pioneer Pro Audio is adept at this kind of work. But ADE presents a unique challenge: many of the sessions on the programme involve a mixture of presenters who need to speak to the audience, but also play bass-heavy dance music. Each of the 12 venues needs a sound system that can simultaneously serve both purposes and impress the most demanding audiophiles.
“The ADE audience is very discerning. That’s why we want to work with the best audio partners.”
Gijs Matthee | Brand Partnerships Manager | Amsterdam Dance Event
With attributes making them adaptable for myriad applications, the XY and XPRS Series speakers are the natural choice for Pioneer Pro Audio’s Manager, Alex Barrand. Because the XPRS system features different EQ modes, it’s ideal for venues where the ADE sessions vary from mainly speaking, to more music-dominated presentations. “For the seminars when people are just talking, there’s no need to have low-end response pumping out of the system. So, we just put the XPRS series into speech mode,” explains Barrand.
“Later on, we can switch to Bass Plus mode, where you still get the vocal response but also when presenters are playing music, it engulfs the room more with the lowend.” And because the speakers have a tilt function, it’s possible to adjust their orientation to suit each session. “We’re able to tilt the boxes down, so when everyone is sitting down for the seminars, they don’t have the high frequency shooting over their heads,” Barrand says. Another advantage of the XPRS and the XY Series speakers is that they’re voiced almost completely flat. When installing them into a room with lots of reflection times and inherent in-house frequencies, there’s less issues with having to EQ those frequencies out, says Barrand. “The flat response not only produces a true replication of the music, but it also allows you the scope to EQ the system to actually become a part of the room, not work against it.”
Madeline Tellegen, ADE’s Head of Production, recalls how the speakers helped overcome challenges in one particular space: “The difficult acoustics in the lecture room for the ADE University at the Generator Hostel were well taken care of. The set-up with speakers on different levels, especially the XY-2s on the balcony, worked great.”
For the ADE Sound Lab, a large room hosted by Pioneer DJ for the duration of ADE, the perfect speaker to build a sound system around is the XY-3B. With the highest output in the XY Series, greater audio projection over long distances and a natural sound that can be focussed in specific areas, it’s ideal for the product demonstrations and live sets by international DJs who drop in to entertain the buzzing crowds.
With so many sound systems to assemble in a few short days before ADE begins each year, time is always of the essence. The active XPRS Series in particular allows for speedy set ups. With amplifiers built into the backs of the speakers, they’re ideal for use in venues such as hotels or cafes that don’t have infrastructure for large, power-hungry systems. “We don’t have to run all the usual speaker cables plus the amplifier,” explains Barrand. “Using the active XPRS series, with its power factor correction, really minimises the load draw on the power of the venue. And it’s a streamlined, easy set-up thanks to the different modes, such as Speech Mode and Dance Mode.”
As well as the temporary sound systems assembled for ADE, Pioneer Pro Audio has created fixed installations at a number of locations in Amsterdam. Among the most notable is the system at Panama, one of the city’s largest and most highly respected nightclubs. The set-up – which was unveiled at a huge party during ADE 2016 – comprises two of the imposing, three-metre-high GS-WAVE dancefloor stacks, as well as a selection of XY Series speakers positioned around the club.
“The different ranges of the speakers – both active and passive – mean they’re ideal for ADE’s wide range of locations and events. And they work well for both speech and music.”
Bram Koning | ADE Audio Specialist | Amsterdam Dance Event
For more than 18 years, Richard Zijlma served as ADE’s General Manager. Speaking in 2016, just after he’d overseen the first collaboration between the festival and Pioneer Pro Audio, he explained why he thought the two brands were a perfect match: “The partnership between ADE and Pioneer Pro Audio is so successful because we both want to set the standard in the scene worldwide,” he said.
But how does that translate to operations on the ground? With the myriad challenges of installing so many sound systems in different venues across a city, the success of the ADE project is down to teamwork, says Pioneer Pro Audio’s Barrand. “Covering so many venues in such little time, it’s crucial to have the right team. Between Pioneer Pro Audio and our local installers, we’re able to put a plan in place and make sure there’s a team dedicated to each area to handle not just the installs, but also respond to any issues during the sessions,” he says.
From a practical point of view, ADE’s Tellegen explains the experience of working with Pioneer Pro Audio: “From planning to execution, it was great to work with Pioneer Pro Audio on such a smooth collaboration.” And ADE’s Matthee agrees that solid partnerships and aligned ambitions are key. “Pioneer Pro Audio are really supportive. We don’t have to spend much time explaining what we want because they just understand our needs,” he explains. “They bring in all the gear and tweak all the sound and in such a short timeline, they get the most out of every venue. We definitely want the partnership to continue.”
“We need to have the best sound in all our venues and we want to work with a reliable audio partner who can help us take it to the next level each year.”
Gijs Matthee | Brand Partnerships Manager | Amsterdam Dance Event
Johnny Kraaijkamp Foyer