With a highly anticipated summer tour kicking off in just a few short weeks, Neon Trees are keeping busy polishing their trademark sound at their Provo, Utah studio. Along for the ride on this year’s tour will be a unique cross-stage monitoring and front-fill solution headed by VUE Audiotechnikal-8 and al-4 line array loudspeakers.
“We’ve been using line array elements for additional monitor and side fill support since 2004,” explains production manager Mike Bangs. “Their low profile and high output ensure good coverage across and immediately in front of the stage. Plus their compact size keeps sight lines clear and makes for easy transport.”
Bangs continues, “Over the years we’ve tried boxes from most of the well-known brands, but we’ve always struggled to achieve a good balance of output and fidelity. In my experience, most line array elements break down sonically when pushed beyond even moderate volume levels.”
Bangs notes that he stays apprised of the industry’s latest development, which led him to inquire about VUE’s new al-Class systems and their unique beryllium compression driver technology. “I’ve known Mike Adams [VUE Audiotechnik Design Chief] for many years and have always been a fan of his work,” he says. “When I found out Mike was working for VUE and developing line arrays with beryllium components, I immediately reached out to see if he had a solution to our ongoing challenge.”
VUE line arrays utilize a compression driver with a Truextent beryllium diaphragm at its core that enhances high-frequency performance due to its high stiffness-to-mass ratio, which dramatically reduces breakup at high output levels.
Bangs assembled a new cross-stage monitoring system using a single al-8 element and hs-25 subwoofer on both sides of the stage facing inward. A pair of subcompact al-4 elements placed directly in front of each al-8/hs-25 combination provide additional front fill. The two al-4 stacks are angled slightly inward for ideal coverage directly in front at center stage—a critical “sweet spot” for Neon Trees fans.
A pair of VUE V6 Systems Engines handle power and processing for the al-4 and al-8 line array elements. Both V6 units are networked along with the self-powered hs-25 subwoofers and accessible via the SystemVUE control and monitoring software.
“With every other system we’ve tried, I reach a point where I literally have to choose between output and intelligibility,” Bangs explains. “But the VUE line arrays have no problem delivering on both fronts. We can literally push them to their limits and they remain perfectly clean and clear. And their coverage all the way to the center and directly in front of the stage is nothing short of exceptional.”
Having finally grappled their high output/high fidelity dilemma into submission, Bangs and the production team are also pleased with the low-frequency improvements brought about by the newly deployed VUE subwoofers.
“When I first set up the hs-25 subs, our bass player Branden [Campbell] literally stopped playing and asked, ‘What is that?’ almost immediately,” said Bangs. “The VUE subs not only deliver way more output, but they’re much more musical than anything we’ve used before. You can actually hear notes, which is clearly what Branden was hearing.”
Neon Trees and the new VUE Audiotechnik rig hit the road on April 28 with shows in Germany, Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom. The U.S. leg kicks off in May. For more information go to www.fameisdead.com.