CMA Music Festival Bigger And Better Than Ever With L-Acoustics
Sound Image deploys massive K1 system for third consecutive year at world's largest annual country music festival
NASHVILLE - August 2015 -- This year’s CMA Music Festival sold out seven months in advance, prompting a record-setting daily attendance of 87,680 fans—besting 2014 numbers by 9.6 percent, the Country Music Association has reported. Those fans came from far and wide to see and hear artists including Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Eric Church spanning four nights of star-packed shows in mid-June, the highlights of which ABC broadcast on August 4.
And returning for a third time as the sound reinforcement provider for the shows at LP Field was Sound Image, which fielded a huge L-Acoustics K1 system featuring 72 K1, 12 Kara and 16 Kudo line source elements, 16 K1-SB enclosures, 32 SB28 low frequency elements, and 78 LA8 amplified controllers. The system was similar to what Sound Image has deployed for the previous two CMA Music Festival events, but featured additional subwoofers and even more precise and consistent audience coverage thanks to refinements in L-Acoustics’ Soundvision predictive software, which enabled system designers and crew to position speaker arrays with unprecedented accuracy.
“Over the past several years, we’ve learned from our experiences at LP Field with the CMA shows, and each year the sound system performance gets better and better,” says Everett Lybolt, general manager of Sound Image’s Nashville office. “The K1 is a great system and it’s especially good for this kind of festival show, because it provides such great coverage while giving our system techs lots of flexibility to tailor it to each artist.”
LP Field's two primary loudspeaker arrays consisted of six K1-SB and 16 K1 with three Kara downfills below, flanked by angled side hangs each featuring two K1-SB, 12 K1 and three Kara. Two six-Kudo auxiliary arrays covered the extreme left and right upper stadium seats, while two delay hangs near the back end of the field were both comprised of eight K1. Low-frequency reinforcement was augmented with three cardioid stacks of four SB28 per side and four pairings of two SB28 for center sub fill. Two stacks of two Kudo enclosures were perched atop the far left and right center sub fills to both cover the first 30 feet of the audience as well as help bring the imaging down from the main system. All systems were powered and processed by a combined total of 24 LA-Rak touring racks, each equipped with three LA8 amplified controllers.
The system was supervised by Sound Image Director of Shop Logistics Roz Jones, heading up a crew that included Crew Chief Dan Shipp, Ted Bible at FOH, Jason Glass on RF coordination assisted by Michael Pollard and James Burr in monitor world, and truck and stage patch technicians Billy Szoska, Dave Shatto, Katlyn Mountain, Brendan Hines and Anthony Shlifka. Sound Image crewmembers worked in two teams, assuring that the gap between artists on stage was never more than 10 minutes.
What the audience also enjoyed was highly consistent coverage everywhere in the venue. “We continue to take advantage of refinements in L-Acoustics’ Soundvision predictive software,” explains Sound Image Systems Engineer Vic Wagner, who is also touring with the Zac Brown Band, another Sound Image client. “This enabled us to improve coverage on the floor and to minimize hot spots.”
Wagner notes that, like last year, the 2015 setup moved the side hangs approximately 25 feet further to the edges of the stage versus CMA’s original K1 system design in 2013. “That eliminated the potential for destructive interaction between the two hangs, avoiding low-mid buildup from wave propagation, and it also improved the sightlines. The L-Acoustics prediction software, amplifier presets and network management software keep getting better and that improves the overall experience for everyone.”
Wagner claims that K1 is the best solution for this show because country music continues to change, bringing in more genre influences that make for a far more varied array of artists. “The sheer amount of variety on stage now is huge, and that means the sound has to adapt,” he explains. “For instance, The Oak Ridge Boys will want less of a rock kick drum and a curtailed low end, while an artist like Luke Bryan will want a ton of low end and a big kick drum. The K1 is a great match for that kid of variety. It’s got the power you need for an outdoor show that keeps getting bigger and its sonic capabilities have proven themselves many times over.”