DETROIT, Michigan -- Kid Rock and his band, Twisted Brown Trucker, are once again rolling across the U.S. with two months of arena shows between February and April. Along for the ride are not only opening acts Buckcherry and Hellbound Glory, but also another "old friend" -- Sound Image's L-ACOUSTICS K1 system.
The 2013 Rebel Soul tour, in support of Kid Rock's latest album of the same name, marks the sixth year that Steve "Half Pint" Cross has manned FOH for the group. With John "Haircut" Tompkins once again serving as systems engineer, and Parnelli Award-winning audio system tech Vic "Beaker" Wagner assisting with P.A. setup and optimization, the tour is taking advantage of a full complement of K1, KUDO and KARA loudspeakers, all powered by LA8-equipped LA-RAK.
Similar to Kid Rock's touring system from his Born Free tour with Sheryl Crow two years ago, the main house system is comprised of left and right arrays of 14 K1 flanked by adjacent arrays of six K1-SB subs and outfill arrays of nine KUDO. New to this tour, however, is the deployment of three KARA per side -- replacing dV-DOSC -- hung from the bottom edge of the K1 arrays for downfill coverage.
To create extra punch -- particularly during the artist's more hip-hop-flavored numbers -- eight front-firing SB28 subs per side are positioned on the arena floor below the mains in two horizontal stacks of three, plus two on end. A dozen LA-RAK touring racks, each loaded with three LA8 amplified controllers, deliver the loudspeaker processing and power for the entire system.
"Although our arena system is very similar to the one we took out two years ago, the use of KARA on this tour has been a big step up," says Cross. "When walking from the mix position to the front, the transition between our K1 mains and KARA downfills is so smooth that I can't definitively tell when I cross over; the two systems are a fantastic match. KARA's lighter weight, captive rigging, and smoother off-axis response are all great improvements as well."
This year's system also differs in that it's the first time the production crew has kept the audio signal chain entirely in the digital domain. "I'm feeding the digital input cards of the LA8s with the AES output from my Avid VENUE Profile console, which has worked very well," Cross notes. "Although it's hard to be sure without a direct A/B comparison, it really feels like the system in general sounds better and more present. I'm very happy with it."
Cross also points out that his boss -- Bob Ritchie, a.k.a. Kid Rock, himself -- is just as pleased with the rig: "He's very dialed into the system. On many days, he'll walk out onto the stage thrust, pull out his in-ear monitors, tell the monitor guys to shut off the stage wedges, and sound check out there in front of the system, critically listening to it and giving us input. Sometimes he'll even come out to front-of-house with his mic to work on a song. He's very involved and extremely aware of system subtleties that most artists trapped onstage rarely have a clue of, and he's a been a big advocate for us using L-ACOUSTICS."
This is not to minimize, however, the FOH engineer's say in the matter. "K1, KARA and KUDO are absolutely my first choice as well," he notes. "Out of all the systems I've ever mixed on, this one is by far the most consistent and natural sounding. Most line arrays are capable of getting quite loud, but few sound truly natural with minimal EQ at all horsepower levels. If Bob plays an acoustic song running at 95dB, I still want the P.A. to sound full and robust. Many systems tend to thin out and perform poorly at softer volume levels, but with K1, I can ramp up from intimately quiet to full-on loud with the same response the entire way."
Cross further compliments the latest versions of both SOUNDVISION acoustical modeling software and LA Network Manager control software in the capable hands of Tompkins and Wagner. "By the time I am handed the system every day, regardless of the differences in each new venue's layout and acoustical challenges, the system sounds the same as it did the day before, and the day before that," he says. "Those two tools have really come long way and make our lives much easier. We were all very happy with everything two years ago and are even more satisfied with it now."
Upon completion of the current arena tour, Kid Rock and his crew will take a brief hiatus before heading back across the U.S. with an even larger L-ACOUSTICS system from Sound Image for an outdoor summer shed tour. For a list of upcoming tour dates and venues, visit www.kidrock.com/tour-dates.
Based in Escondido, California, Sound Image can be found online at www.sound-image.com.
L-ACOUSTICS is a leading innovator and manufacturer of high-performance loudspeakers, amplifiers and signal processing devices for touring and installed sound markets. Known around the globe for pioneering and championing the modern line array loudspeaker concept with V-DOSC, the company has received numerous accolades for its K1, KUDO, KARA, KIVA, ARCS, XT coaxial loudspeaker systems and SB line of subwoofer enclosures, all powered and processed with the LA4 and LA8 amplified controllers in fulfillment of a "total system approach." Product distribution and customer service for the USA is handled by L-ACOUSTICS' subsidiary in Oxnard, California.
Credit for all photography: Vic Wagner