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Audio On The Edge: Pushing The Limits At The Reggae On The Mountain Festival

Inside the audio approach for a growing Jamaican-bred music fest at its new location in the Santa Monica Mountains.
King Gillette Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains above Los Angeles was the setting for this year’s Reggae on the Mountain festival. Credit: Dennis Hannigan

The Reggae on the Mountain festival has grown steadily, evolving to a point in mid-August of this year when it drew 5,000-plus fans of the Jamaican-bred music to its new location above Los Angeles at the King Gillette Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Nestled into the lower reaches of the Las Virgenes Valley and offering unspoiled views of broad meadows and low ridgelines, the event spread 25 acts over the course of its two-day weekend run, including headliners Steel Pulse, Julian Marley, and Matisyahu.

Like virtually any festival, this, the 10th anniversary edition of Reggae on the Mountain (ROTM), was one challenged by time and logistics. With a shifting stream of activity revolving around its main Mountain Stage – a mobile 40 x 40-foot Stageline SL320 brought in by San Fernando, CA-based Kilroy’s Lighting and Production, which handled all technical matters from power to sound and lights – the event was marked by fast-paced turnovers and sparse moments for guest engineers to prepare beyond whatever could be accomplished in the span of a line check.

Julian Marley and band in concert at the recent Reggae on the Mountain festival. Credit: Amanda Goodrich

According to Kilroy’s technical producer Matt Smyrnos, another major production issue centered around the festival’s expanded size this year. “Changing venues changed everything,” he says, referring to ROTM’s move from further down the hill at the Topanga Community Center up to the higher altitudes and bigger spaces offered at King Gillette Ranch. “It was like the difference between the Little League and the big leagues – at least four times larger than in the past.”

Not The First Rodeo

In the most basic of audio terms, adequately addressing ROTM’s growing pains meant dealing with a significantly larger area of coverage and bringing in additional loudspeakers. To that end, an inventory of dBTechnologies VIO components supplied by MixOne Sound in Orange, CA was enlisted to handle the task.

The main left-right arrays flown at ROTM’s Mountain Stage were each comprised of a dozen VIO L212 line array modules. Deployed in a cardioid array along the front of the stage, 27 VIO S218 subwoofers provided extended low frequency response.

Mountain Stage arrays used a dozen dBTechnologies VIO L212 enclosures per side. Credit: Amanda Goodrich

On stage, a combination of dBTechnologies DVX DM12 TH and DVX DM15 TH floor monitors served performing musicians, with side fills complementing the monitor blueprint in the form of a single VIO S218 sub topped by a pair of VIO L210 cabinets at both stage right and left. Front fill duties were delegated to full-range VIO X10 two-way systems mounted in strategic downstage locations just in front of the floor wedges and just behind the subs.

“The VIO and DVX enclosures aren’t new to this festival,” Smyrnos notes. “We’ve used them in the past with good success, and at this event we rolled out the L212s expressly to deal with the longer throws required of the bigger space. At 600 feet these boxes sounded remarkable; we had no need for delays.

Deployed in a cardioid array, 27 VIO S218 subs served as the low frequency foundation of the two-day event. Credit: Amanda Goodrich

“Setup was about as painless as any setup can be,” he continues, “and while some are reluctant to place self-powered boxes like these in full Southern California summer sunshine with the air temperature hovering over 90 degrees, we did it – and have done it before – without any problems. They can take the heat without succumbing to any disruptive power issues. We had a lot of heavy hitter, ‘A-List’ engineers at this event, so the last thing we wanted was to provide gear that wouldn’t survive any kind of demand asked of it.”

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