The North American leg of “An Evening with Michael Bublé” tour resumed in August, presenting fans with 23 shows in A-level arenas through late October and utilizing Meyer Sound components provided by global production company Solotech, and once again the large-scale system is deployed in a novel “dual hybrid” configuration comprising both typical end-stage arrays as well as center-hung arrays over the B-stage that essentially function as an in-the-round system.
What’s new this time around is the introduction of the Spacemap Go spatial sound design and live mixing tool, which tracks Bublé’s voice as he strolls between the two stages, maintaining aural localization at all seats with synchronized, incremental changes in level and delay across multiple loudspeaker arrays.
“We came up with the basic solution late in 2018 because Michael wanted to eliminate the distracting delay between his in-ear monitors and the main arrays when he moved out to the B-stage,” explains tour FOH Engineer Craig Doubet. “Spacemap Go was still in development at the time, so working with Meyer Sound we pieced together an interim solution using custom hardware and software. It worked, but now with Spacemap Go it is easier to use and the imaging is more consistent as Michael moves down the catwalk.”
Spacemap Go employs a free iPad app for wireless access to all level and delay functions of the GALAXY Network Platform. Working with an intuitive touchscreen interface, users can dynamically move sounds in three dimensions, with spatial sound mapping scalable from recording studios up to large arenas.
“With Spacemap Go, everything has been streamlined, which enables us to have more customization of the process,” continues Doubet. “For example, now the delay functions are fully integrated with the panning. Before, we had to do a manual switch when Michael moved along the catwalk. Now we have incrementally stepped delay changes following the level panning as Michael moves toward the B-stage, all under real-time fingertip control.”
The power of Spacemap Go ensures that the aural imaging will translate accurately in all seating areas, as explained by Meyer Sound Technical Support Specialist Josh Dorn-Fehrmann, who assisted in the programming.
“Craig wanted to make sure the audience at the extreme sides would experience this effect. So as Michael walks toward the B-stage we use Spacemap Go to crossfade across five different GALAXY outputs with varying delay times. The delay times change smoothly without artifacts and allow the audience covered by the side fills of the main stage to accurately image Michael’s voice as he moves away.”
“For the audience it’s a beautiful thing,” says Craig Doubet. “When Michael is moving, his voice tracks his position, and when he’s at the B-stage his voice is anchored there for everybody. That’s important because Michael wants that sense of intimacy and presence to connect with his audience. You don’t get that strange disconnect that happens when he’s right in front of you and his voice is coming from far away arrays.”
Two GALAXY 816 Network Platforms at the system’s front-end control Spacemap Go functions, connecting via Milan AVB to nine GALAXY processors dedicated to loudspeaker processing.
The four main stage arrays deploy a total of 60 LEO and LYON line array loudspeakers along with 12 1100-LFC and four 900-LFC low-frequency control elements. Front fills are eight MINA and two JM-1P loudspeakers.
The center-hung arrays function as a massive delay cluster when Bublé is on the main stage and becomes the primary system when he moves to the B-stage. This system comprises ten LEO and 52 MICA line array loudspeakers, plus stage-facing arrays with 16 LEOPARD line array loudspeakers active only when Bublé is underneath on the B-stage. The B-stage system also includes 12 700-HP subwoofers, two 900-LFC elements and seven MINA loudspeakers for front fill. As has been the case for more than a decade, the Bublé tour system was supplied by Solotech.
“The Spacemap Go solution itself is cost-effective,” notes Doubet, “but in this application there’s no way around the fact that we are carrying a lot more PA to make it work. I’m not sure to what extent other acts will adopt it, but Michael thinks it’s worth it to have that intimate audience connection and annoyance-free monitoring everywhere he goes.”
While Doubet focuses on his mix, operation of the Spacemap Go transitions is handled by Systems Engineer Fred Cantin. Other key team members are Production Manager Craig Finley and Monitor Engineers Marc Depratto and Renato Petruzziello.