There are big music festivals and then there’s Milwaukee’s Summerfest – “The World’s Largest Music Festival,” as certified by Guinness World Records. This year’s Summerfest 2016 spanned 11 days and hosted upwards of 800,000 people.
To handle the heat of such a massive show, Clearwing Productions deployed a range of VUE Audiotechnik loudspeakers, including the new al-12 large format line arrays, on the festival’s Briggs and Stratton Big Backyard stage, where attendees enjoyed performances by O.A.R., Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Gavin DeGraw, Matisyahu, Stephen “Ragga” Marley, Kool and the Gang, and other artists.
Clearwing Productions deployed a system based around VUE’s new flagship al-12 array, which is designed to deliver sonic performance for large-scale applications. The Truextent beryllium equipped al-Class front of house hybrid arrays, included al-12 loudspeakers for the main system and al-8 arrays for down-fill, taking full advantage of VUE’s Continuous Source Topology (CST) which allows for consistent vertical coverage between all al-Class line array elements.
Additional al-8 systems were used as front fills on the stage lip. Sixteen of the new hs-221 dual-21-inch ELF (Extended Low Frequency) ACM subwoofers were placed in a virtual arched cardioid array configuration, bringing the system’s low frequency power response down to 25Hz. Side-fills consisted of two flown al-4s arrays, each with two al-4SB flying subwoofer systems arrayed in an end-fire directional configuration.
“We needed a system that could deliver high-quality sound to a large audience of 8,000 people while keeping the coverage extremely focused,” said Bryan Baumgardner, Operations/Logistics – Audio at Clearwing Productions. “Stage-to-stage bleed is always a concern at outdoor festivals with multiple stages, but especially at Summerfest as most of the stages are in very close proximity to one another. The VUE system sounded fantastic with smooth, even coverage throughout the Briggs and Stratton Big Backyard stage. We were concerned about keeping the low-frequencies contained while delivering all the bass impact we needed, and with the VUE system and Jeff Taylor’s expertise about the hs-221’s and the Extended Low Frequency (ELF) mode, LF was never an issue.
“The al-12 allows VUE to handle much larger applications than we’ve ever been able to do before while maintaining the same level of sonic performance for which we’ve become world renowned,” Ken Berger, VUE Audiotechnik CEO, points out.
“At Summerfest, we had time to listen to the system and I had a really good desk to play with,” says Ruwan Karu (Peaches, Lourdes, Nick Carter), who mixed for Jack & Jack. “During sound check, I walked around and there was a really good spread; and I was impressed. I didn’t want to make it too loud because the venue isn’t deep and I was looking for clarity and could tell straight away, with the drum kit, that there was going to be plenty of punch in the bass.”
Michael Larcey, Cleveland-based front of house engineer for O.A.R, also had praise for his experience with the system. “It was clean and neatly rigged,” he states. “It definitely had powerful low end – tight, no flabbiness – and my mix came together quickly. It was an easy day, I’ve got to say.”
“Jason Pruzin was the front of house engineer and Megan Henninger was the house monitor engineer for all the bands that did not bring their own engineers, and both absolutely loved the system,” Baumgardner adds. “The al-12 just makes everything ‘bigger’ sonically, while keeping all the high-fidelity sound we’ve come to rely on from VUE. Everybody absolutely loved the system. We had so many compliments. I didn’t hear a single negative thing. The front of house engineers loved it, the monitor engineers loved the wedges and side fills, and the systems sounded really good, very smooth.”