Chattanooga, TN – December 2008… Riding high on virtually every category of Billboard's music charts, having won her first American Music Award for Favorite Female Artist (Country Music), and outselling just about every other artist with her new album, Fearless, Taylor Swift is positively red hot. With a presence that appears to be everywhere, there aren't enough superlatives to apply to Swift's runaway success. Swift recently performed to a sell-out crowd of 9,500 at the University of Tennessee's McKenzie Arena, and the sound system that delivered the goods was none other than a huge Aero line array setup from DAS Audio.
Smyrna, TN-based Allstar Audio Systems, Incorporated, a full-service sound, lighting, video, and staging design firm for corporate events, live event marketing tours, concert tours, festivals, and other special events, was contracted to provide sound for the October 18th, 2008 extravaganza. Knowing that it needed to fill a large space—324 feet X 292 feet, with an 80 foot ceiling—that included the main floor, bleachers, and an upper balcony for the audience seating areas, the Allstar crew deployed a massive DAS Audio Aero line array system that included 28 DAS Aero 38A self-powered, 3-way line array elements, 14 Aero CA-28A self-powered, 2-way line array elements, 4 Aero CA-215A monoamplified subwoofers, and 20 Aero 218A 2K powered subwoofers.
The setup was divided into four main loudspeaker clusters. The main left-right clusters each contained 14 Aero 38A's, while the two far side hangs each consisted of 7 Aero CA-28A's and 2 Aero CA-215A subwoofers. The Aero 218A 2K subwoofers were ground stacked ten per the left and right sides in front of the stage.
The challenges of this project were considerable, as Mike Borne, Allstar Audio's President explained. “This was a very complex project,” said Borne, “as it involved tri-level audience seating that panned out to approximately 170 degrees from the center stage, not to mention high rigging steel and bridles for proper positioning of the loudspeaker clusters. Since the stage was already in place, we chose to fly the main left-right PA hangs 4 feet off the side edges of the stage and about 4 feet from the down stage edge with the downstage motor. The side stage hangs were about 6 feet further upstage and about 5 feet from the side of the stage. This arrangement provided us the ability to lay out and rig the 38A's, pin them for angle adjustment according to our EASE Focus recommendations, and cable the arrays as they lifted off the ground. We used an angle-meter to set the final angle of the arrays, and hoisted them up to trim at about 40 feet to the top bumper—measured by a laser tape measure. We also took the same approach with the side arrays.”
In addition to the task of flying and positioning all the various loudspeakers, the process of getting all the equipment in and out of the arena was no small matter, as there was nothing more than a single loading door—with no dock. “We had to unload 6 trucks full of gear into one door,” notes Borne, “so it was tight to say the least. The fact that the DAS gear is compact, self-powered, and features captive rigging hardware made sorting and getting the equipment into place a lot easier. The captive rigging hardware kept everything close at hand so we didn't have to run around looking for it. A lot of thought went into the design of this equipment.”
Looking back on the events that took place that evening, Borne commented on the one issue that, ultimately, everyone cares most about—sound quality. “The EASE Focus software was instrumental in giving us an accurate picture of the coverage we could expect,” said Borne. “This software made the job possible. Without it, the project would have been a real nightmare. Through several walk arounds during sound checks and the concert, I had a hard time finding anyplace in the arena that I could not hear and understand everything that Taylor was singing or saying from the stage. The fidelity and dynamic range of the DAS Aero system was incredible as it tracked and reproduced the wide dynamic range of Taylor's vocal performance—from the softest whisper to full-on belting it out.”
“We also received numerous compliments about the clean look of the arrays,” continued Borne, “and the loudspeakers' self-powered design is yet another important factor with this equipment. The fact that there were no amp racks clogging the small isles next to the stage made working this project that much easier. We experienced a record year at Allstar Audio in 2008, and based on the number of events already on the books for 2009, we're going to be busier than ever. I firmly believe that our company's â€˜all in' positive attitude, our quality service, combined with the DAS gear makes all the difference.”
For additional information about Allstar Audio Systems, visit the company online at www.allstaraudio.com.
About D.A.S. Audio
Headquartered in Valencia, Spain, D.A.S. Audio is one of the world's leading manufacturers of loudspeaker systems, power amplification, signal processing, and related components. For better than thirty years, D.A.S. Audio products have been found on tour with the world's greatest performing artists and installed in many of the most prestigious facilities. For additional information about the company, visit them online at www.dasaudio.com.