Shambhala Music Festival returned for its 19th year as one of the most popular music festivals in Canada. Occupying over 500 acres in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia, Shambhala is a gem of both natural and cultural beauty. Attendees “come home” every year to experience the spirited community who gather annually in celebration of music, art and good vibes that bring this vibrant festival to life.
PK Sound was again an integral part of this year’s Shambhala experience, deploying 300 loudspeakers across 5 of the 6 stages at the festival. Each stage boasted its own unique and immersive environment, featuring an eclectic variance of musical genres and experiences. From EDM to hip hop and live vocal performances, attendees were guaranteed to hear music that they’d love. Established headliners and emerging artists alike took to the stages to sweep the crowds away over the 4 days of the festival.
PK Sound production crews deployed and operated 5 distinct sound systems across the stages, including a Trinity system at the Village Stage. Each stage required a unique system due to environmental challenges posed by the ruggedly beautiful mountain setting.
Over at The Village Stage it was a new and bigger venue layout that required sound engineers to rethink the system deployment for this year. The stage is nestled among towering evergreens and a new system of raised walkways and platforms was renovated to encompass a greater footprint, providing fans with opportunities to experience the show from several angles and vantage points. For Sound Engineer PJ Miller it was another step in the right direction. “The Village Stage was pretty amazing this year - most of the structure surrounding the stage was rebuilt so we deployed a time and phase aligned sound system that covered not only the dance floor, but also the areas surrounding front of house and the raised catwalks that were shading the high frequencies from the stage system.” PJ’s team deployed 4 zone delays around front of house that were synced with Trinity “The high frequency throughout the stage area was fortified using strategically placed groups of Klarity 12 and CX215 loudspeakers. It didn’t matter where you were in the Village Stage because every spot was covered - the crowd loved it” PJ concluded.
The Fractal Forest stage is by far the most challenging stage for sound coverage, given its unique layout. An audience area of 360° around the stage requires a system that disperses the sound field evenly at all sides. PK Sound’s Austin Perkins achieved the full 360° coverage by flying several pairs of VX10 line array in a radial pattern around the stage, totaling 32 cabinets. The position of the subwoofers and stage monitors were also precisely determined and tested through rigorous sound checks and phase adjustments. “Fractal Forest is one of the most unique stages that I have ever worked with. To achieve full, uninterrupted coverage around the entire stage is one of the challenges that I look forward to every year. And we knocked it out of the park again. I couldn’t be happier with the results – just watching the audience go wild said it all.” Says Austin.
For the Pagoda Stage, the PK team deployed an 8 per side VX12 line array with 24 CX800 dual 18” subwoofers and an additional side fill consisting of 6 VX12 line array per side and 9 CX800 dual 18” subwoofers. Sound engineer Kyle Yzerloo says “With such a high caliber roster of musical talent and the crowds that followed them, we needed to be on point with the sound. Through sound checks every day, constant EQ monitoring and adjustments we stayed on top of the changing variables due to crowd size and artist change-overs.”
The Living Room and Amphitheater stages boasted their own natural beauty and acoustic challenges. The Living Room Stage sits along the Salmo River where the rocks and running water create a relaxing reverberation. To accommodate this setting, a system of 20 VX10 compact line arrays in pairs and a bass wall consisting of 18 CS212 subs were set up.
The Amphitheater, being the most centrally located stage is always shoulder to shoulder with crowds on the dance floor. With the main dance floor area was well below stage level and the sound was aimed downward using a VX12 line array with 6 per side. A sub wall consisting of 18 CX800 dual 18” subwoofers was deployed, as well as a delay stack on each side of the stage, including 3 CX800 dual 18” subwoofers and 2 CX215 loudspeakers.
With over 15,000 people in attendance, the stakes for quality sound were high and the PK Sound team delivered yet another amazing year for sound at Shambhala. Trinity and the other PK Sound systems weren’t only successful, they dominated with powerful and transparent audio across all the stages. From the defining sound of 3D Wavefront Control at the Village stage, to the unique harmonics and natural settings of the other stages, each offered a unique experience that kept attendees dancing all night long. As the Shambhala team begins planning for its 20th anniversary at “the farm”, the PK Sound team has started preparations for a celebration that promises to outshine all years prior.