Citing exceptional control and pristine sound quality, MSI turns a year-round racetrack into a premiere concert experience with help from the VUE al-12.
When Meeting Services, Inc. (MSI) won the bid to provide Audio services for the San Diego County Fair Grandstand Stage, Production Account Manager, Birch Caffee, immediately spotted an opportunity to take the VUE al-12 Acoustic Linearity Line Array for a spin. Running for a full five weeks from late May into July 4th weekend, the fair’s 27 shows featured a broad mix of artists and genres, including Dionne Warwick, Jake Owen, Toby Keith, Pitbull, and Smokey Robinson, to name just a few.
“I’ve been doing local events, as well the occasional national tour, for the last 20 years now, and in that time I’ve worked on pretty much every major system,” said Caffee. “Over the last year, the buzz around the VUE al-12 has been really high among my respected engineering friends. Earlier this year I decided to check out a demo to hear the al-12 with my own ears. The rig was really consistent — all the to the back row, and the hs-221 subs had outrageous range and output. What really won me over though, were all the well-thought-out details and practical features. I love it when manufacturers design with proper attention given to the truck pack!”
For the San Diego Fair, MSI joined forces with VUE rental partner, Harmony Event Productions, who also recently added a sizeable al-Class inventory to their Southern California arsenal.
“Adding the VUE line array has been great for our business,” said Shawn Ellis, President at Harmony Events Services. “The al-12 is an easy sell, thanks to its association with acts like Kendrick Lamar and Janet Jackson. Plus, VUE’s performance to value ratio is much better than most systems in our inventory. It’s a real money maker.”
The Del Mar Fair Grounds presented some unique acoustic challenges for the MSI team. The main performance area was located on a race track, with the stage at ground level facing steep grandstand seating. A ten foot tall concrete retaining wall was located about 80-feet from downstage, between the track level and the first row of the grandstand seats. Depending on the show, the track level floor was either standing room or ground seating.
“The wall below the grandstands presented some real challenges with respect to the ground subs. And the grandstands themselves were tall, deep and multi-tiered, so the system needed to deliver good coverage from bottom to top, and front to back, with good control over the low-frequency energy,” explained Caffee. “I worked up a basic design using left and right al-12 arrays, along with two flown al-12SB subwoofer arrays. Flying the subs provided the LF control we were after and helped us to avoid the concrete wall.”
An Ease model was used to verify MSI’s design. After a few minor tweaks, the configuration was set, and the truck was loaded.
The final design consisted of left and right al-12 arrays comprised of 14 acoustic elements each. Low frequency was delivered by left and right flown subwoofer arrays containing eight al-12 SB elements each. Additional low-frequency support came courtesy of 10 hs-221 dual 21-inch ACM subwoofers positioned on risers directly below front of the stage. For near-fill, MSI deployed six h-208 dual 8-inch systems across the stage lip. A selection of hm-Class monitors helped keep the bands in sync.
Rack-mount VUEDrive systems engines provided power, DSP and networking capabilities for the flown al-12 and al-12SB arrays, while on-board VUEDrive electronics did the same for the hs-221 subs and h-208 front fill systems. SystemVUE software allowed easy setup and monitoring of the entire VUE ecosystem.
“The al-12’s sounded terrific, especially the top end. VUE’s use of beryllium drivers really pays off up there. When you’re listening to a mix, there is a remarkable clarity. Numerous engineers commented on it during the summer.”
Caffee continued, “The VUE al-12SB subs were equally impressive. The flown arrays delivered ample energy to the back of the house, with the balance and control that engineers need in a venue like this. In fact, the flown subs were so effective that we kept the ground-stacked hs-221s relatively low for most shows. But when needed, those dual 21-inch cabinets moved a lot of air. This was particularly useful for PitBull and the other artists that needed a lot of sub bass.”
With 27 successful shows wrapped, Caffee and the MSI team couldn’t be happier with their VUE experience. “The system never missed a beat. The whole VUE solution definitely exceeded our expectations.”