“It’s been Meyer for several years,” explains FOH mixer, Ken Stone, who’s designed the PA system for Bluesfest since its inaugural year. “It used to be a Meyer MILO rig, and then we switched to a different PA. But now it’s Meyer’s LEO and LYON loudspeakers primarily.”
Overall, the main stage PA consisted of twelve LEO flown with four LYON-W and eight 1100-LFC subs per side, four LYON front fills, eight additional LYON elements per side as out-hangs, thirty-two 1100-LFC on the ground, and a delay system of ten LYON per side, with four GALAXY-816s for system control.
“The L/R LEO and LYON speakers were easily throwing 350 feet, no problem. The 1100s were flown in a cardioid configuration and that was amazing. There was a complete, utter wall – a full stop of all bottom end backstage from the flown subs.” Stone opted for an end-fire configuration for the ground-based subs, adding, 'It’s the best way to stop the bottom end from going backward.”
Stone is unequivocal in his praise for the Meyer rig. “I sat at home for two weeks plotting this all out on MAPP 3D, and how it was modelled was how it turned out 180 feet away.”
Meyer’s Real-Time Measurement System (RMS) also helped immensely. “If a sub goes down, end-fire doesn’t work well – the whole pattern gets thrown off, but with RMS running we can see if something’s wrong immediately. One night our monitor tech was going, ‘I’m feeling bottom end; this is not right.’ I looked and RMS showed that there was a box down. It was just a cable, so we plugged it back in and everything was fine.”
As for audio quality, Alex Benn adds : “I was Wall Sound’s A2 for the festival and, honestly, at FOH the PA sounded like we were only two feet away even though we were 180 feet away. One of the touring engineers actually reached down at one point to turn off his near fields - which were not there and not on,” he adds, laughing. “So that’s what it sounded like. I think Meyer being so careful about the phase response of the boxes helps make that possible. The entire PA – L/R, front fills, out hangs, subs, all of it, at FOH it was within 100-150 degrees phase coherent, which is amazing for a bunch of different speakers hundreds of feet apart.”
None of those involved skimp on praise for the DiGiCo consoles in play for Bluesfest either.
“I was the guy connecting things together and I can tell you how well they worked,” says Wayne Hawthorne, who handled patch and RF coordination for Wall Sound. “For consoles we had an SD12 for FOH and a Quantum 225 for monitors. However we also had to bring in a pair of Q338s for Pitbull’s performance, so we were able to use those for a few days as well. I mixed on a Q338 last year and it was ‘DiGiCo-easy,’” he adds. “Everything I’d expect to be there was there, but on the 225 and 338 there’s just more. There’s so much processing available. It’s a wealth of riches.”
Even for those unfamiliar with the Quantum Series, DiGiCo met rider requests handily. “I’d be completely comfortable telling somebody who’s only used an SD9, for example, that on an SD12 you’ll be totally at home," Benn adds. "On Quantum, they'll be more or less at home. The workflow is the same. You can dig into the added features but to get up and running is no problem with pretty much anything in DiGiCo’s product line. One of the obvious benefits of DiGiCo is that you don’t need to do much work to get a mix going – the signal path and everything sounds good. You just do what you think you should, and the console reacts as you think it would.”
Stone also cites the workflow similarity between desks as a plus in favour of DiGiCo. “It’s basically the same – just what you see in front of you that changes.”
When choosing which desk he’d put on stage for monitor world and which lived at FOH, it came down to which console Stone felt would best meet the needs of each position most effectively. “We were going to put the 225 at FOH, but it was going to outperform any monitor board because it has so many options monitor engineers need that FOH doesn’t necessarily require. The SD12 has everything I could possibly need, ever.” While he admits the 225 would have offered some additional functionality for FOH, “as far as making the monitor tech and everybody on stage happy – the 225 way outperforms. If a monitor engineer is sending kick to everyone on stage and one person says there’s too much high end in it, you can go to that send, re-EQ that single send, on that single strip to that person alone. I don’t need that at FOH. Our Monitor tech, Cam Haynes, loved it.”
“All of the brands Gerr represents are recognized, known to be reliable and are high-quality products. Across the board, pretty much any of their suggestions are known quantities you can trust in a professional environment,” Benn says. “The fact that they know how this gear works in the field – well, it’s one thing to know the product but they’re aware of how it’s used and what sort of issues you might run into on the road.”
Again, Stone puts that in context by recalling the Bluesfest’s deployment of Meyer products over time. “With the Meyer MILO it was a whole new world, a whole new PA, a whole new frontier. We didn’t have the Galaxy platform then, but Gerr came in to guide us. And when we moved to the LEO/LYON rig, we got more support and guidance from Gerr. I remember one time when I had something pop up on a GALAXY and had no idea what was going on, but I called Ian Robertson when he was on vacation, and he got back to me in two minutes. I hate bothering him on weekends, but if I have to figure something out quick – because time is of the essence when things are going bad – a phone call and he gets back to me right away – their support is just insane.”
Benn concurs: “Being able to call someone directly is almost unheard of these days. GerrAudio’s extremely responsive.”