The Dead & Company Hangar & Stadium Tour continues through the fall, with more than 30 concerts scheduled between the August 16 launch in Raleigh, NC, and the grand finale on the weekend of Halloween. Following a decades-long tradition established by the Grateful Dead, this latest iteration of the legendary jam group is on tour with audio production anchored by a Meyer Sound LEO system provided by UltraSound.
Meyer Sound’s enduring relationship with the Grateful Dead (and subsequent spinoffs) dates back to before the company was founded in 1979, the company’s President and CEO, John Meyer, consulting the legendary Sound Wall. The group was heard often through the JM-3 and JM-10 speakers designed by Meyer of McCune Audio soon after.
“For this tour, we prepared for a remote pandemic mixing scenario. When we are faced with a location whose compromised mixing position would place the team within 6 feet of the crowd, we move the FOH mix into backstage in a walk-in closet, ”says Derek Featherstone, who is both CEO of UltraSound and FOH engineer for Dead & Company.“ Using the Meyer GALAXY AVB network, we set up an FOH player tuning station for the day in addition to returning the microphones from the analyzer to the locker room via AVB. We can then look at the FFT analysis of the PA, adjust it in real time, in addition to monitoring the FOH SPL. In the dressing room, we can match the frequency response of the PA on a daily basis using GALAXY to Amie studio monitors with Amie-Sub. These monitors do a great job of reproducing the main PA sound and allow us to mix the show remotely and stay connected to the tonal characteristics of the sound system. “
For UltraSound COO Josh Osmond, the LEO system is a perfect match for the current tour. “It flies quickly and easily, and because it’s self-powered, we don’t have amp racks cluttering up the stage and taking up space in trucks,” he says. Plus, you know that whatever you put into the system is exactly what comes out of it, with no audible harmonic distortion. It’s consistent in all environments, indoors and out, regardless of the wind or humidity. It holds up very well in all scenarios, and is essential for touring these days. “
In the hangar setup, Dead & Company’s 2021 touring rig features 16 LEO line array speaker main front mounts per side, with identical matrices for the side mounts. For sub-bass, nine 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements are placed on each side behind the LEO arrays, with a dozen additional elements in a 6 x 2 configuration in the pit. Ten LEOPARD line array loudspeakers are available to be deployed individually for front fill, with system control and optimization provided by eight GALAXY 816 network platforms linked over an AVB network.
For stadium shows, two more LEO speakers are added to each of the four main boards, an additional 1100-LFC hangs from each subwoofer array, and the pit complement is expanded to 10×2. UltraSound adds components for the delay stage on a case-by-case basis with a typical system comprising three delay towers and deploying 12 LYON line array speakers per tower. For Citi Field and Hershey Park Stadium, Meyer Sound’s rental partner, DBS Audio Systems in Pennsylvania, was responsible for the project.
“Despite all the changes from day to day, with different locations and changing weather conditions, you will definitely hear the same from the system,” says Michal Kacunel, Technician at UltraSound Systems. “With hangars we have to deal more with the acoustics of the structure, but even then the response is remarkably consistent.”
Kacunel speaks for the entire tour team when he adds, “Glad to be doing it again. It’s been over a year and a half since the last show so it’s great to be back to bring live music to loyal fans. “