Press Release

Madonna Concludes Her Celebration Tour with a Beach Concert in Rio for 1.6 Million Fans Featuring a Massive L-Acoustics Concert Sound System Madonna Concludes Her Celebration Tour with a Beach Concert in Rio for 1.6 Milli...

A colossal 624-loudspeaker concert sound system powered by 212 amplified controllers projected the Queen of Pop to the largest audience ever assembled for a standalone concert

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – May 2024 – “Madonna is a creature of comfort and habit, so the first and foremost challenge of mixing her sound is to recreate her experience exactly, night to night, venue to venue, on every stage. That’s where L-Acoustics made all the difference,” shares Madonna’s FOH engineer, Burton Ishmael. He’s been mixing for the star from October 14, 2023, at the O2 Arena in London to the massive, record-breaking show on the beach in Rio de Janeiro on May 4, 2024, when an estimated 1.6 million fans took in what Pollstar described as “the largest audience ever assembled for a standalone concert.”

The Celebration Tour, supplied by vendor Eighth Day Sound, a Clair Global brand, visited arenas around the globe with a K2-based system, where it grossed over $227 million and sold 1,128,657 tickets over 80 shows. For the massive tour finale on the beach in Rio, São Paulo-based sound company Gabisom took the lead on production for the closing show, which featured an impressive 624 K1, K2, and other L-Acoustics enclosures driven by a staggering 122 LA12X and 90 LA8 amplified controllers and two P1 processors. The final count was 172 K1, 80 K1-SB, 96 K2, 128 SB28, 68 KS28, 59 Kara, and 21 X8. The complexity of this setup was managed with the help of L-Acoustics Soundvision modeling software, a testament to the technical prowess of the team—and the beach, which posed unexpected challenges for the concert sound system design.

“It was a major, major, major tool in coming up with the solution, and the only way we could have actually figured this out was to use Soundvision,” says Ishmael. “Not knowing the beach layout precisely and where exactly on the beach it would’ve happened, we could have just estimated the distance of throw, which we figured would be about four square feet per person to stand there, times however million people. We could take that distance, put it in Soundvision, and simulate the entire thing. Without Soundvision, it would’ve been impossible.”

Those precise calculations helped Ishmael and his crew, including Systems Engineer Andy Fitton and Crew Chief Frank Peoples, lay out a design to address a challenging performance space. “We expected not to have any walls or anything around to reflect sound, but we also had to contend with changes of temperature on the beach—during the day it would be hot, and then at night we would expect it to cool at least 10 or 15 degrees—and the wind was also a very big concern for its potential to deflect sound,” Ishmael explains. “In addition to that, the salt in the air and the marine layer presented challenges. That’s why we packed the concert sound system with so much power, just to overcome those elements. Speaking of which, many of the amplified controllers were only 30 meters from the waves breaking on the shore, but they never failed to solidly drive all the arrays down the beach.”

The system’s delay towers were especially unique regarding numbers and placement. Configured as eight stereo towers, each comprising four K1-SB, eight K1, four K2, and eight KS28, and arranged as a kind of sonic parade marching from the beach. “We had to take in the atmospheric variances and the distances to make the delay towers work, and Soundvision’s Autosolver tools, like Autoclimate and Autofilter, made this kind of scale manageable,” says Systems Engineer Andy Fitton, noting that the wireless microphones used to calibrate tower speakers a half-mile away from front of house stretch those systems’ antennas to their maximum range. “The delay-mapping mode in Soundvision was crucial in getting that right,” he says. “And the ability to visualize the low-mid pattern in the SPL target was critical in matching the overall homogeneity of the system over 300-foot throw distances.”

Another area of concern was the three large catwalks that Madonna prowled during the show. “Unlike in an arena, where we had the roof and grid system that we were able to suspend everything from, out on the beach, there’s no roof system,” says Ishmael. “So we positioned the main speakers underneath so that it wouldn’t feed back on the three catwalks, then added Kara and X8 upstage fills. That kept the front-of-house sound off the catwalks but still delivered amazing coverage throughout the VIP area.”

A deployment of this size does not come together without a team effort, and Celebration Tour Crew Chief Frank Peoples says there was plenty of that on the Rio show. “Everyone pitched in to make this happen as smoothly as possible, including Chris ‘Sully’ Sullivan and Alex Soto from L-Acoustics, who were there to provide system design expertise and help with any questions we had,” says Peoples, who was part of the sound system crew for Pope Francis’ visit to Panama in 2019, and knows how challenging productions at this scale can be. “K Series speakers have the throw you need to reach everywhere the sound needs to go, and to sound good doing it. There was a lot to think about for this show, but excellent coverage and fidelity were never a worry—they were both a given—and having Sully and Alex on our team was a key ingredient of this production’s success.”

Ishmael says an enormous amount of care, effort, and time went into the concert sound system design for Celebration—rehearsals began in a Brooklyn soundstage and later in Nassau Coliseum a year before the tour kicked off. Still, the final show on the beach was a singular event in terms of scale and challenge. The L-Acoustics technology offered his team the tools to adeptly meet those challenges.

“I have to say that I was completely satisfied, and I didn’t expect anything less,” he says. “The loudspeakers and amps held up tremendously. The ability to monitor what’s going on anywhere in the system at any given moment was very confidence-building. And then sonically, it was exactly what I expected from L-Acoustics—excellence, from the first note to the last.”

For more details on Madonna’s recent Celebration Tour, visit Eighth Day Sound can be found online at

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