Poor sound the bane of Kigali events

The Rwandan entertainment scene has sprouted out lately through constant events being hosted, igniting enthusiasm for the grappling arts industry.

However, poor sound has turned out to be a sore thumb at most of these events, leading to some flopping and others scaring away potential revellers. This has led to the question whether Rwanda lacks quality sound systems, especially for music events.

Audiences usually blame the deejays for poor sound yet most of them have no idea what the cause of the problem is since they are hired to only “spin the wheel” using an already installed sound system.

A number of events have fallen prey to this problem this year. The Royal Concert at Gikondo expo grounds in Kigali which starred Uganda’s Jose Chameleone as guest artiste while featuring several top local musicians, flopped partly due to poor sound.

The Kwibohora music concert at the Kigali Serena, which hosted Ugandan music duo of Radio and Weasel alongside Rwanda’s Urban Boys, Two 4 Real and Jody, also experienced sound hitches.

Even concerts held in smaller venues such as clubs have not been spared this drawback. Recent cases include the Club Georges launch in Remera last month Mashujaa Day Party concert by Kenyan music star Nameless at People’s Club and last month’s Two 4 Real pre-launch show at Kaizen Club, Kabeza, where performances were halted.

Most established venues, such as hotels and clubs, have not installed good quality sound systems that can satisfy the demands of most music events, forcing organisers to lease them.

On average, sound for a major music event in Rwanda hosting 500 people or more can cost between Rwf1 million and Rwf15 million while that with a smaller audience will gobble up Rwf300,000 to Rwf900,000, depending on the requirements.

Joseph Mushyomo, a manager at East African Promoters, an event organising and management firm that has been behind most of the big events in Rwanda, said many organisers are yet to place sound quality at the fore of their planning.

Martin Kasirye, a renowned emcee in Kigali, said Rwanda has quality sound equipment but suffers a shortage of people with expertise in sound systems.

“We have professional and good sound systems in Rwanda but the problem arises from lack of experts such as sound engineers to operate these equipment,” said Kasirye.

Eugene Safari, proprietor of Safari Sounds, a local company offering sound system services, concurred with Kasirye.

“The very few who are known to specialise in sound operation seem not to further dig deep as far as researching on how best to improve on their skill,” he said.

Alfred Gatarahira, the manager of Alpha Sounds and a professional sound technician who recently attended a sound course in Belgium, blamed event organisers who use cheap systems without regard to the result.

“Most expensive equipment also comes with quality, which, of course, in turn carries cost with it, which need to be considered,” said Mushoma, adding that many local events organisers do not allocate enough budget for sound systems, which affects the quality of systems to be hired.

Pius Rukabuza aka DJ Pius stressed the importance of doing a sound check.

Some events with Rwandan-operated sound systems have however been successful. Examples include the Primus Guma Guma Superstar music competition over the years and last month’s “homecoming” concert by Rwandan-Belgian artiste Stromae.