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Getting It Right: New Technology For Classic Rod Stewart In Concert
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Lars Brogaard has been working with Rod Stewart for 27 years, and over the course of that time, the sound reinforcement rig used for what he has occasionally described as a “never-ending” tour has evolved substantially to incorporate new technology, meet changing performance demands, and exceeding the expectations of the audience.

Stewart’s recent concert tour of North American arenas proved no exception, with the system, supplied by touring company Major Tom of the U.K., headed by the new Meyer Sound LEO self-powered linear system. (See sidebar for more information about the new LEO.)

Brogaard’s use of Meyer components began in 2004 when he specified MILO line arrays for a Stewart tour. The new LEO-M line arrays were joined this time out by Meyer 1100-LFC low-frequency elements, Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management, as well as MICA, MILO and UPA-1P boxes to handle various fill needs.

The manner in which Brogaard deployed the loudspeakers evolved over the course of the tour, and this approach will continue going forward, he notes. At the outset of the tour, the main left-right arrays were comprised of 12 LEO-M cabinets flown above four MICA down fills. These were flanked by side coverage arrays, each comprised of 14 MILO elements. Meanwhile, five 1100-LFC subs were flown directly behind the main arrays.

“Now, however, we’re flying three 1100-LFCs with two spacer bars that are the same size as an 1100-LFC,” Brogaard notes. “So we have six 1100-LFCs per side in the whole system, for up to 18,000 people, which is rather impressive, I think.”

The Meyer Sound array set, including new LEO arrays, providing coverage during the recent Rod Stewart tour. (click to enlarge)

He also prefers to fly main and side arrays as far apart as possible. “Many people place them about 60 feet apart, but I try go out farther when possible – on an outdoor show, up to 120 feet apart,” he explains. This results in an improvement in overall sound imaging throughout the venue and less spill back onto the stage.

And while he’s pleased with the additional horsepower offered by the new loudspeakers, it wasn’t about pinning the audience to the back wall with massive amounts of SPL. Rather, his decision was made primarily due to a desire for additional dynamic range.

“We used to be very loud in our youth, but we’ve gotten away from that,” he says. “Currently I’m running about 103 dB, C-weighted. It’s the right level, particularly for an audience that’s getting older and isn’t interested in getting ‘thumped’ anymore. Also, the rejection off the back end of the cabinets is fantastic.”

In the foreground is a new LEO-M linear
array, backed by five flown 1100-LFCs. A MILO array for side coverage is in the background. (click to enlarge)

It’s a strategy particularly important for this gig, he notes, referencing Stewart’s open mic technique and the fact that the entire band is on in-ear monitoring (IEM). “With LEO, I can get close to 5 dB more level without interfering with what’s happening on stage.” (Side note: Stewart and his band were among the first to use IEM exclusively on stage, starting with Garwood systems in the early 1990s. Currently they’re on Sennheiser 2000 Series systems.)

The switch to the Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management platform is also recent. Developed for LEO, it’s based on what Brogaard describes as a “more sophisticated interface and a greater degree of control for each element in the LEO system.”

Brogaard’s choices are also motivated by a preoccupation for streamlining the live rig as much as possible. “With the 1100-LFCs flown behind the main arrays, it looks like we have hardly any speakers there, so the audience has a better view of the show’s video and lighting elements, rather than looking at a big stack of PA,” he notes.

In addition, powered loudspeakers make for easier setup and tear down and less signal loss. “It’s also more efficient travel-wise, because you’re not dealing with a lot of amp racks,” he adds.

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