Dead & Company is back on the road for its 2022 Summer Tour that recently kicked off in mid-June at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, supported by a sound reinforcement system headed by new Meyer Sound PANTHER large-format line array loudspeakers.
The band further augmented its repertoire of tunes while UltraSound, the decades-long audio provider for the Grateful Dead and successor ensembles, assembled the largest system of PANTHER loudspeakers in North America and the first to roll out on a U.S. tour.
To cover expansive audience areas in a mix of sports stadiums and larger sheds, UltraSound is carrying a PANTHER inventory that allows reconfiguration for venue size. For stadiums, a typical deployment is four identical arrays — two main front and two side — each comprising 14 PANTHER loudspeakers, with four PANTHER-W wide coverage versions flown under 12 PANTHER-L long-throw versions.
Mixing the band for PANTHER’s North American touring debut is front of house engineer Derek Featherstone, who also serves as tour director and UltraSound CEO. “PANTHER is a very responsive system and reacts quickly to change,” he says. “The vocals tend to lead nicely, staying up front in the mix better than with last year’s system. I’ve altered some vocal compression to take advantage of this. Also, the general consensus so far is that PANTHER needs less EQ, so optimizing the system is quicker. We don’t need as much high frequency boost in stadiums, and the detail is more transparent.”
The compact size and reduced weight (150 pounds) of the cabinets are stated to help save on transportation costs while the new class D amplifier reduces power consumption. In addition, PANTHER is offers AVB Milan protocol network connection directly to the loudspeaker cabinet.
“We’re using the same count of PANTHER as we had for LEO last year, but the reduced size and weight allowed us to carry more subs and deploy them more effectively,” Featherstone notes. “Recovered truck space allowed us to bring the VLFCs, while PANTHER’s reduced weight makes it easier to do more end-fire sub arrays in stadiums within the same total weight limits.”
For larger venue deployments, PANTHER arrays are bolstered in the bass registers by 18 flown 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements plus 12 700-HP subwoofers on the ground. Ten VLFC low-frequency control elements are stated to extend response down to a 13 Hz. A dozen LEOPARD compact line array loudspeakers are deployed singly for front fill and eight GALAXY Network Platforms provide system drive and optimization. The stage foldback system comprises 10 MJF-210 and two MJF-212A stage monitors along with two JM-1P loudspeakers for sid fill and two 1100-LFC elements as drum subs.
“We invested in PANTHER for three reasons,” says Featherstone. “We needed additional inventory, we were confident that the fidelity would be as expected from Meyer Sound, and we would benefit from the added versatility. We are already getting a good deal of interest from other tours and events after Dead & Company wrap up next month.”
In addition to Featherstone, the Dead & Company tour is supported by Michał Kacunel (system engineer), Ross Harris (recording engineer and ground PA tech), Lonnie Quinn and Ian Dubois (monitor engineers), along with crew members Sean McAdam, Aaron Lauzier, and Reilly Williamson.