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In It Together: Concert Sound For Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw On Tour
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What do you do when you’re all dressed-up in a warehouse full of line array components and looking for a place to go?

Maybe hitting the road with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw isn’t a bad idea, especially if you’re known around Nashville and have already been seen out cavorting with the likes of Alabama, Big & Rich, and other top-drawing country artists.

John Mills wears the title of vice president of audio at Morris Light & Sound, and along with Morris president David Haskell, jokes that the firm is the industry’s “only 20-year-old, one-year-old company.”

An oxymoron at first glance, there is truth in the statement. While Morris Light & Sound is indeed a rather new entity, it sprang to life out of Morris Leasing, a division of Morris Management.

“The original company was not a rental company in the sense that it was only created to serve artists residing under the Morris Management umbrella,” Mills explains. “Then one day not long ago the owner decided that his audio inventory needed to be making money on its own.

“Thus was born Morris Light & Sound.”

Chesney performing with his Shure Axient wireless system outfitted with KSM9HS element. (click to enlarge)

Fixing & Learning

Despite the odds, Chesney and the new Morris Light & Sound had a good year, “fixing, learning, and digesting,” according to Mills.

At the end of last summer, Mills did some contract work for Haskell, then was subsequently offered the Morris VP position in January of this year. To better insure the new company’s sonic reputation, between January and May, every loudspeaker, amplifier, and cable was taken all the way down and rebuilt as needed to factory specs.

“The original Morris Leasing systems were all customized for the Morris stable of artists,” Mills notes. “Therefore, while in theory Kenny’s stadium rig could have been made into an arena system, in reality it was only for stadiums, because there was no way to use the existing DSP to separate it.”

System designer John Mills keeping an eye on system parameters with Rational Acoustics Smaart. (click to enlarge)

Chesney’s “Brothers of the Sun” tour this year, also featuring fellow country superstar McGraw, kicked off with a system capable of meeting the needs of different-size shows for years to come, showcasing a new design incorporating the company’s fleet of Electro-Voice X-Line line array boxes and Precision Series P3000 amplifiers.

“Making us more efficient, high-performing, and adaptable is the fact that now we’re entirely digital before the preamps,” Mills explains. “I took everything this year to (Audinate) Dante.

“In combination with the digital drive, the Dante transport made a stunning difference compared to last year. Everyone is blown away and asking what we did to change things so noticeably.”

The EV Precision amplifiers and Dante-networked NetMax matrix controllers tucked under the stage. (click to enlarge)

With Dante serving as the drive system behind the interconnects to virtually everything, five EV N8000-1500 NetMax matrix controllers are spread throughout the system serving in a multitude of capacities ranging from switcher and controller to provider of EQ.

“That’s what my tablet talks to,” Mills says of the digital NetMax devices, “and they allow me to perform an endless series of tasks. I have one NetMax at front of house that I use as a console switcher, zone controller, and for EQ; units at each of the delay towers, and another stage left and stage right to process all the FIR filtering to the arrays.”

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