NORTHRIDGE, California - Michigan's Thunder Audio is celebrating its 33rd year in business in 2012, having grown from its beginnings as a regional sound company in 1979 to its current status as a premier international live production and systems integration company. Thunder Audio has provided sound for Steely Dan, Metallica, The White Stripes, Linkin Park, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, John Legend, Travis Tritt and many other artists along with more than 60 corporate clients. The company continues to grow, as evidenced by its purchase of 56 HARMAN JBL VTX Line Array Series V25 loudspeakers and 24 VTX S28 subwoofers, along with 72 Crown Audio I-Tech IT 12000HD amplifiers and six dbx DriveRack 4800 loudspeaker management systems.
Any major sound contractor needs to keep a large inventory-and to keep up with the times. "We're a company that's client-driven, of course, and more and more, clients are asking for lighter and more powerful loudspeaker systems," noted Thunder Audio Vice President Paul Owen. "We have to deliver."
Shortly after the VTX Series was announced, Owen heard a demo in San Diego and was impressed, particularly by the quality of the new JBL D2 Dual Driver included in the V25. The D2 is a dual-diaphragm, dual-voice-coil compression driver that overcomes the limitations of conventional compression driver technology: limited high-frequency extension due to the mass/inertia of the diaphragm and voice coil, and distortion characteristics that result from dome breakup modes. The D2 overcomes these drawbacks by merging two compression drivers into a single transducer that utilizes two annular diaphragms with two voice coils instead of the larger and heavier single voice-coil dome diaphragm found in conventional drivers.
Owen was "blown away" by the quality of the D2 driver and the increased clarity and power-handling capability it provides in the V25. "I've been in this business a long time and have done live sound in every type of venue imaginable," Owen said. "There's no disputing the improved sound quality and the sheer amount of horsepower the V25 has. You can believe we will test it to its max with some of the acts we'll be using it with."
The lighter weight of the JBL V25 and S28 make them a more versatile option for the variety of projects Thunder Audio handles. In addition, the weight difference from other systems makes these speakers easier to rig and transport and saves fuel and transportation costs.
The S28 subwoofer is designed to complement the V25 with its dual 18-inch Differential Drive(r) high-power-handling woofers and built-in Crown VRack amplifiers and DSP. "We like the S28 because it can be either suspended at the top, in the middle of, beside or behind flown V25 arrays or ground-stacked," Owen noted. "Again, this gives us more options to accommodate different-sized venues and the requirements of a wide variety of artists and musical styles."
When deciding which amplifiers to go with the VTX line arrays, Owen didn't spend a lot of time hand wringing. "We made this decision not only because of the performance of the products but also because of the ways in which the loudspeakers, amplifiers and other components are designed to work together optimally," he said. "We purchased the Crown IT 12000HD amplifiers because we wanted to get maximum power and efficiency from our system."
The Crown IT 12000HD amps are designed to work hand-in-glove with JBL VTX Series line arrays and include pre-set tunings and other features to precisely match their performance to the loudspeakers. The VTX speakers and I-Tech HD amps interface with HARMAN's HiQnet Performance Manager(tm) system setup software, which Owen finds to be the best system management program on the market. HiQnet enables Thunder Audio to configure, set up and tune an audio system "in less time and with better results," stated Owen.
Owen and Thunder Audio President Tony Villarreal give credit to Thunder Audio Business Development Manager Greg Snyder for configuring the control system and racks for the company's VTX touring systems. '"Greg was instrumental in assembling racks that are smartly designed and optimized for touring day in and day out." Snyder and Owen find that the synergistic operation of the JBL, Crown and dbx components, and the flexibility of HiQnet Performance Manager, enable the production crew to achieve more consistent and more effective sonic results on a daily basis from venue to venue.
The addition of JBL VTX Series line arrays marks another major step for Thunder Audio and its clients. "It's important to have a variety of solutions for our clients to choose from," Owen said. "This business is not one that stands still, and neither do we."
For more information on Thunder Audio, please visit www.thunderaudioinc.com
HARMAN (www.harman.com) designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets - supported by 15 leading brands, including AKG(r), Harman Kardon(r), Infinity(r), JBL(r), Lexicon(r) and Mark Levinson(r). The Company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 13,000 people across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and reported net sales of $4.3 billion for the twelve months ended March 31, 2012.