Considering they are working in a field where technology changes the tools of the trade all the time, audio pros can be a pretty conservative and hidebound bunch. Or maybe it is just that we have an aversion to updating riders. Whatever. But the bottom line is that there are an awful lot of “veteran” acts touring with riders that call for the same gear that was around the last time the act had a hit. Not that it’s bad stuff, but there has been an awful lot of new stuff released in the last few decades and a lot of it miles better than the old stuff.
The issue is getting engineers and production managers to hear it and trust it and list it on the rider. This is especially an issue for smaller companies that don’t have huge marketing budgets or the ability to throw around a ton of free gear just to get it out there.
For such a company, the best bet is often to develop a relationship with a regional venue or production company. A system installed in an Indian casino or a municipal venue can go further for a smaller company than any tour ever could because over the course of a season, that regional venue will see a couple of dozen bands, most with their own engineer and there is no better way to get lots of people making decisions about what gear they will and will not use in front of your stuff.
Such is the case for Michigan-based ISP Technologies and Chene Park, a six thousand-seat amphitheater located at the banks of the Detroit River in downtown Detroit. That venue recently wrapped up a full season of concerts that featured a complete loudspeaker system from Waterford, MI based loudspeaker company. The artist line up was heavy on R&B, Jazz, and Hip Hop and featured appearances by a diverse group including Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, the O’Jays and others.
The system consisted of 20 HDL 4212 Line Arrays, 4 HDL 4210 Line Arrays, 18 XMAX 212 subwoofers and a 14 piece ProWedge 212 monitor system. The 4212s were hung ten per side with 2 4210s per side added as downfill. All of the subs were ground stacked. Grand Rapids, MI based Stage Works oversaw the installation and operational aspects of the rig. Acting as both Chene Park’s system engineer and stage Works head audio engineer, Johnny Winkler played a key role in pushing through the ISP rig to visiting sound mixers. “The ISP boxes are not familiar to a lot of FOH mixers but nobody can argue with the results. Once they have mixed on it, 9 out of 10 guys have been absolutely blown away.”
There were several challenges to the Chene Park concert series—along with the “captured” seating, there was a bobbing and boisterous group of fans who anchored their boats in the river and listened to the performances. Also adding to the challenge is the Chene’s urban setting which required the sound to be contained while still providing the needed punch and low end that the performers required. This was taken into consideration when determining the system design. ISP’s Jon Waller worked closely with Winkler using a proprietary in-house prediction system to best determine array configurations.
Buck Waller, president of ISP Technologies, commented, “We are a Michigan based company and love to work with local large scale events in the state. That being said, we knew that some great FOH engineers from all over the country would use this rig and they would insist on a high level of performance regardless of the local connection. We received nothing but praise from them this season.”