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Secret Weapon behind the APEC cultural performance
On the evening of 10th November, Chinese president Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted a grand welcoming banquet for the leaders and representatives attending this year's APEC meetings at the “Water Cube” aquatic center in Beijing. After the banquet, the guests enjoyed a grand cultural performance including a feast of folk dance and traditional songs directed by the famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
The stage design was full of Chinese elements and after extensive renovation and decorating, the Aquatic Center became a place that made one feel as if immersed in a poetic Chinese landscape painting, in which the softly hanging silk yarn, winding water and exquisite pavilions created a beautiful and fabulous scene.
The performance featured a mixture of Chinese musical instruments such as a bamboo flutes alongside western violins and cellos, which blended the Chinese and western culture and fitted the statement of the 25th Anniversary of APEC: Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership.
The event showcased the top level of Chinese performance and every person involved worked to the best of their abilities and constantly strove for perfection. Now let us unveil the secrets behind the audio system.
Chief audio system designer Mr. Ma Xin

Mr. Ma is a famous and familiar face in the audio world in China. He was the chief audio designer for the 29th Olympic Games Opening and Closing ceremonies in Beijing, chief audio designer for the Beijing Paralympic Games, chief audio designer for the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, as well as chief audio designer and chief commander of the audio engineering project for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.
When we look back to these splendid projects, we can find that Mr. Ma meticulously studied and planned the sound system requirements and chose the best plan carefully. He fully prepared every single detail of each show and combined his extensive experience and brave innovation together into an exhilarating experience for the audiences.
What was the secret weapon at the performance of APEC banquet?
The show consisted of two parts: one was orchestra; the other was a singing and dancing performance. The photo below was taken facing the audience from the stage and the orchestra was on the right side behind the curtain of the Chinese painting.
Since the Water Cube was renovated for the banquet, the stage was temporary and on one side of the venue. It was very close to the first row of the audience which brought a big challenge to audio team.
The music was played live by the orchestra when Xi Jingpin and his wife entered the venue with the guests and also when he delivered his welcome speech. The audio system had to be safe and stable to handle dozens of microphones and various styles of music. It is even more challenging to ensure the supreme sound quality.
After considering all the complicated scenarios, Mr. Ma and his team decided to use the renowned Live console from Solid State Logic for the show.
They also chose Universal Audio’s Apollo high resolution audio interface and used its integrated UAD-2 plug-ins to simplify the system and make use of it’s widely respected emulations of vintage analogue and digital audio processors.
(Integrated UAD-2 interface of UA Apollo)
Mr. Ma was very happy to express his fondness of SSL. SSL’s preamp and EQ have always been standards in the industry. In addition to the incredibly flexible Bus routing and many other features, SSL Live more than satisfied Mr. Ma by delivering detailed and smooth strings sounds, rich and full vocals as well as maintaining the orchestra’s consistency and musicality. SSL Live just made things simple and was nicely complemented by the UA Apollo’s plug-ins. The system was simple, stable and provided good sound quality which are the most precious commodities for a live sound team.
(Xi was delivering a speech)
(SSL Live L500 Console and UA Apollo)

(About SSL Live)
Solid State Logic has been at the leading edge of audio console design for more than 35 years. Many of the concepts, features and creative approaches to audio production taken for granted today as ‘the way things are done’ in Music, Broadcast and Film Post production came to life on an SSL. Our name has always been synonymous with design innovation, with inventing intelligent, ergonomically superior audio production tools that enable talented audio engineers to work efficiently, creatively and to make music sound great.
(About UA Apollo and UAD-2 Plug-in)
Apollo is a high-resolution professional audio interface with superior sound quality and Realtime UAD Processing onboard. It features built-in UAD-2 DSP Acceleration, which allows Apollo to track, mix, and master with our full library of award-winning UAD Powered Plug-Ins with nearly instant sub-2ms latency. Apollo connects to the computer via FireWire 800, and also has Thunderbolt connectivity via the Thunderbolt Option Card.
The UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerator is a sleek, powerful way for Thunderbolt-equipped Mac users to “supercharge” their systems and run larger mixes filled with acclaimed UAD plug-ins. This convenient desktop unit gives you full access to UA's award-winning plug-in library, including exclusive titles from Studer, Lexicon, Neve, and more. With improved performance and reduced plug-in latency versus FireWire, UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt is a professional solution for UAD plug-ins, and an ideal DSP expander for Apollo audio interfaces.
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