Originally rising to fame as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Hootie & the Blowfish, which he founded in 1986, Darius Rucker is better known these days for topping the country music charts, as he recently did again with his fourth studio album, Southern Style. And when the songwriter tours, be it with Hootie or now, it’s always been with L-Acoustics‘ sound.
“We were once a small company, just starting out, and one of the bands we were working with then was Hootie & The Blowfish,” recalls Jason Farah, co-founder and co-owner of Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s Special Event Services (SES), sound-reinforcement provider for the Southern Style tour and whose clients also include Joe Bonamassa, Sam Smith, Justin Moore, Charli XCX and the Avett Brothers.
SES went on the road with the band in the wake of its 1994 major-label debut, Cracked Rear View, and by 2000 it was touring exclusively with an SES L-Acoustics V-DOSC system. “They told us, ‘You were there for us in the beginning, so now that we’re on a major label, we’re taking you with us,’” Farah remembers. “They took us to national prominence and we’ve been with Darius ever since.”
Today, that bond still stands and the Darius Rucker Band is out on tour with SES’ newly acquired L-Acoustics K1 system, using a split system of eight K1 speakers atop eight K2 speakers per side, plus eight SB28 subs per side groundstacked below. A dozen ARCS enclosures are used as needed for ancillary fills, and six dV-DOSC serve as lip fills for the stage, all powered by 24 LA8 amplified controllers housed in eight LA-RAKs.
“We get such a powerful throw out of this system, which is exactly what we need to reach the lawns for these shed shows, and the 10-degree inter-element angle on those K2s gives us punch in the nearfield, which used to be a challenge,” explains Bryan Kiger, systems engineer for SES on the Southern Style tour. “This configuration gives us a nice wide coverage, which is perfect for these kinds of venues.”
The results have been spectacular. “The entire system sounds great,” says Farah. “I’m partial to the K2s, which excel as a nearfield speaker—they sound like you’re listening to a stereo system. The overall K1 system is fabulous. You plug it in and it works. LA Network Manager is solid—the base EQ-voicing presets in the amplifiers have been constantly refined, and, now, when you turn it on, you immediately hear that signature L-Acoustics sound: silky through the highs and warm in the middle, with plenty of strong, clear bass. It’s such a great match with Darius’ voice. And we’re getting consistent results from venue to venue.”
Even Kiger, a longtime veteran of L-Acoustics on tour—he was SES’ V-DOSC system tech on the road with Coldplay for seven years starting in 2001—is impressed. “The K1 is great-sounding right out of the box,” he says. “It doesn’t take a lot of EQ to get it to where you want it. Also, the rigging for the box is phenomenal. We can hang the system in ten minutes with just a few people. It’s a PA that you can hand to an engineer and turn on, and with just a little attention to zone-level control and timing, you’re ready to start the show. The K1 is a great tool that lets me get at the sound—it doesn’t fight me. We’re mixing the show through a vintage Midas XL4 console, and the combination of the finest analog console ever made with the finest speaker system built is true sonic beauty.”