Delta Fulfils Tall Order At Opening Of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa

Dominating the skyline like nothing the world has seen before, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai holds numerous world records, not least for being the tallest manmade structure ever built. But, as the sumptuous opening celebrations were gazed at in awe by thousands looking on from the city and millions via television, little did people know that the precision sound, lighting and dazzling fireworks were all tightly synchronised by Delta Sound.

Costing over $1.5 billion dollars and measuring an awe-inspiring 828 metres - over half a mile - from tip to toe, the eyes of the world were on the official opening ceremony for the world’s tallest building which took place on 4th January. Delta Sound Dubai was tasked with the supply of the sound and communications for the event, with Andy Jackson designing the entire system. The company also claimed an unofficial record into the bargain.

Delta had been approached by Prisme International, a French-based event management company, which Delta has worked with on previous events.

“This was the first time that Prisme had specifically requested that we do the sound for an event like this, so it was a definite feather in our cap,” says Andy.

Working closely with Prisme’s creative director Pierre Marcout, Delta was immediately set a tall order in more ways than one, being given just 10 days from being approached to the event itself.

“The lack of notice was not down to Prisme, we were all in the same situation,” Andy stresses. “There couldn’t be any commitment to the creatives until the right person had the right piece of paper to say ‘Yes, definitely go ahead.’”

The system had to incorporate sound for a 100m-wide projection screen, sound reinforcement for the spectacular, Bellagio-style fountains - constructed between Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall as part of the project - and also a reveal system for the tower itself.

“We had to trigger the fountains for a specially commissioned version of the Dubai national anthem and another commissioned piece of music for the reveal,” Andy continues. “This meant we had to provide timecode to interface with the fountain control room, which was about a kilometre away. We achieved that by using eight BSS Soundweb blu 160s and a Soundweb blu 800.

“Because of this, and the fact that we needed to get system comms up to around the 157th floor of the tower, we used around four kilometres of fibre optic.”

This was just the start, however, as Delta’s timecode was also used to synchronise the firing of all the lighting and awe-inspiring fireworks which were set off up the entire height of the building.

“We used an IZ Technology RADAR multitrack to trigger everything, as we have done on other shows,” says Andy. “Mixing the show was done on a Digidesign Profile, interfaced with a ProTools HD system. The composer of the music worked with us, taking the original ProTools sessions he had recorded and remixing it to get the very best out of the system.”

Also in use was a 360 Systems Instant Replay server and a Yamaha LS9-16 console. The main PA system comprised 28 L-Acoustics V-DOSC, 24 dV-DOSC, 18 SB218 Subs and MTD 112 loudspeakers, all powered by LA48 amplifiers, with XTA processors.

“With everything being pre-recorded, the operation of the show was fairly straightforward,” says Andy. “The challenge was with the synchronisation and getting comms so far up the world’s tallest building.”

Utilising 32 Clear-Com 501 beltpacks, four EF701 interfaces, four MS232 and one MS704 main stations, plus eight HME wireless kits, the communications system worked very well. And, given that the previous world record for the greatest number of floors in a building was 108, by default Delta must lay claim to the record for the highest number of floors a fibre optic communications system has ever reached, having gone 49 better.

“It was certainly a challenge, but everything went extremely smoothly and it was very gratifying to be part of such a unique occasion,” says Andy.