Bonnaroo Bounces Back with L-Acoustics Bonnaroo Bounces Back with L-Acoustics...
LD Systems deploys K1/K2 sound systems for the festival’s largest stages: What and Which
MANCHESTER, Tennessee – July 2023 – After several years of major setbacks—including cancellations due to both COVID and flooding from Hurricane Ida—Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival finally regained its former stride at the sold-out 2023 edition in mid-June. Returning to the Great Stage Park on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, approximately 85,000 revelers came to see a diverse top-artist lineup. Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters, ODESZA, Paramore, Lil Nas X, and many others performed on the festival’s curiously-named two main stages, “What” and “Which,” both of which featured L-Acoustics K Series concert sound systems deployed by Houston-based LD Systems.
“Big festivals are back, and the artists, crews, and fans are all super happy about it!” says Rafael Rosales, Systems Engineer and Crew Chief for LD Systems on the What stage, joined by Monitor System Engineer Chris Neimeyer and A2s Anthony Bovenzi, Marshall Bohlen, and David Correa. He continues, “I think this was the best Bonnaroo I’ve had so far, and the bands were loving the PA.”
LD Systems Audio Department Operations Manager Thomas Ruffner agrees that Bonnaroo hit all the high notes this year. “It was a fantastic event all around, from the artists to our deployments, the weather, and the way the equipment performed,” he says. “We had warm days that were a little cool in the mornings, but any time we have that level of equipment out in the field, we are more than happy to deal with a little morning chill.” Joining Ruffner on the Which stage were Systems Engineer/Crew Chief Bryan Woodall, Monitor Systems Engineer Michael Skinner, and A2s Jeremy Chance and Josh Rodriguez.
At the What stage, LD Systems deployed 16 K1 enclosures over four K2 per side, with 12 K1-SB flown behind each main array. Twelve K1 over four K2 per side delivered out-fill coverage, while a dozen Kara were provided as front-fills. Low-frequency reinforcement was supplied by 32 KS28 subs on the ground, and the entire system—including a three-part delay ring of four K1 over four K2 per tower—was powered by six LA12X and 60 LA8 amplified controllers.
In general, Rosales says that the What stage’s system essentially had the same configuration as last year but had to accommodate a crowd more than double the size of 2022’s attendance, which it easily did. “It’s a really well-behaved, very predictable system,” he says. “That’s why bands feel more assured walking into venues like this and seeing those brown boxes. With a well-deployed system, they know it will be a good day.”
Ruffner describes the PA deployment at the Which stage as somewhat simpler than What’s. “We had 10 K1 over four K2 per side as the main hangs, plus 12 Kara front-fills and 32 SB28 ground subs,” he says. “Our monitor package was a complement of a dozen 115XT HiQ, two ARCS II over two SB28 side-fills per side, four SB18 as drum-fills, and the tried-and-true ‘Texas headphones’ of Kara and SB18 as DJ side-fills.” This was all driven by a total of 14 LA-RAK, each loaded with three LA8 amplified controllers: ten for the front-of-house PA system and four more for the monitors. He says no delays were necessary for the Which stage; however, because of its location between other stages, crews had to be aware of energy containment.
“The Which stage is in a tight area where we have three stages pointing at us, and we’re kind of pointing at those three stages, as well,” Ruffner explains. “There is a bit of overlap between performances on each stage. To contain the energy, we used L-Acoustics Soundvision modeling software to see right where we needed to start the energy and right where we needed to stop it. And we can also use it to manage the PA in real-time.” In one instance, atmospheric conditions made sound travel much farther than anticipated. Ruffner’s team consulted Soundvision and realized they needed to mute a couple of HF sections at the top of the arrays. “This allowed us to contain the sound while maintaining the line length and keeping LF control as tight as possible.”
Echoing what Rosales had to say about how artists feel about going into a milestone show like Bonnaroo with an L-Acoustics system in the mix, Ruffner adds, “Going into a festival with an L-Acoustics PA, you don’t worry about system performance or artist acceptance,” he says. “Regardless of the environment and the stage size, we know it’s the right tool for the job. We have had awesome levels of success with L-Acoustics.”