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hla logo sm.gif (2903 bytes)
Los Tigres del Norte
(Mexico)

LOS TIGRES DEL NORTE TOUR MEXICO WITH NEW HLA SOUND SYSTEM
FROM JBL PROFESSIONAL

Popular Band & Hard-Working Production Crew Select HLA system
after Live Demonstration

************

Mexico's most well-known and enduring popular musical group, Los Tigres del Norte, begins another nationwide tour this fall, bringing their rock-solid norteno ballads to crowds that exceed 50,000 persons at a variety of venues throughout Mexico and other nations.

A regional favorite since 1972, when their early hit "Contrabando" focused attention on the challenges confronted by the Mexican immigrant community, Los Tigres have emerged as one of the best-known concert acts for Spanish-speaking audiences in both North America and Latin America. The group's widespread fame first came from songs about drug smuggling (like the 1989 album "Corridos Prohibidos"…Prohibited Ballads, based entirely on the topic of illegal smuggling). Originally from Mexico's Pacific-coast state of Sinaloa, Los Tigres are best known for having modernized Mexican pop music, infusing it with boleros (sentimental songs), cumbias (dance music) and hard-driving rock-style rhythms.

Production values for the group's shows are very high, which has led to the group's owning its own sound system. "When we are on tour, we try to leave nothing to chance," advised Miguel Ramirez, Production Coordinator for Los Tigres who handled much of the advance work on the group's tightly-scheduled shows. "While in Mexico, our crew works really hard. We will often have travel delays or unexpected developments at a concert site, and so we need our production equipment to go together quickly and be up and ready for immediate use."

Ramirez credits Production Logic (San Leandro, CA) with helping to custom-design and source much of the band's staging, rigging and sound needs. The rig was intentionally assembled to accommodate Los Tigres' grueling tour schedule. "We looked for a package that could work well together. We needed self-climbing trusses, moving lights and a high-powered concert audio system. Hermes of Mexico City supplied our lighting system. For sound, we had been looking at several options, including some of the more usual choices like products from EAW and Meyer. But we really needed something that had lower distortion and lots of headroom. Production Logic arranged a live demonstration of JBL's new HLA (Horn Loaded Array) system for us outdoors in a large field. We brought in the band, set up the instruments, and then had a listen. The band was extremely impressed."

"Los Tigres' fans expect a really big, powerful sound," notes Jose "Cucco" Refugio, front-of-house soundmixer for Los Tigres del Norte. "We usually set up the sound system to cover very large audience areas…50,000 persons on average, but sometimes our audiences will exceed 60,000 or even 70,000, if Los Tigres have not performed in an area for a long time. So, the sound system is often called upon to support huge crowds. JBL's HLA gives us the projection we need to reach all the way to the rear of large festival sites without having to use extra delayed speaker towers," noted Refugio.

SPEAKER ARRAYS

Refugio controls a hanging left/right array system made up of 32 HLA model 4895 mid/high units loaded with JBL's new Differential Drive‘ technology and 16 HLA model 4897 2-18" bass enclosures equipped with JBL's innovative Linear Dynamics Aperture‘ vent design, providing massive amounts of VLF (Very Low Frequency) energy to the band's high-powered blend of rock and popular Mexican musical stylings. The 4897's are constructed from advanced materials (carbon-fibre panels) instead of wood. The more rigid construction of the 4897 means that more of the bass energy is converted into acoustical output, instead of turning into box vibrations as it does on more traditional wooden speaker enclosures.

Since each 4895 3-way unit and 4907 bass unit is built into JBL's patented Spaceframe‘ which is exactly the same size and shape for each unit, the crew can readily assemble speaker arrays with different performance characteristics as needed. The 4895's tilting waveguide lets the mid and high frequency elements be positioned as desired, without complicated re-adjustment of the rigging hardware.

To power the JBL speaker system, Los Tigres del Norte rely on power amplifiers from Crest Audio. Each amplifier rack contains Crest Model 9001 to handle the 4897 bass units and the low and midrange frequency sections of the HLA system…Crest Model 7001's are used to power the high-frequency compression drivers. Sound technician Javier de Leon is responsible for setting up and cabling the amplifier racks.

At a typical show, de Leon and electrican Pablo Tafoya work to rig and cable up the HLA speaker arrays, linking them to the amplifer racks with specially-prepared cable assemblies. The arrays are then hoisted into the air by HLA truss modules developed by ATM Flyware. These hanging frames are pulled up by Los Tigres' unique, self-contained stage and lighting truss system, which relies on CM Lodestar chain-motor hoists. "The JBL speaker modules are so lightweight, It only takes two one-ton motors to suspend 16 of them in an array," notes production coordinator Ramirez.

STAGE MONITORS & SOUND CHECK

Onstage sound needs for Los Tigres are handled veteran stage monitor mixer Fermin Ramirez, who works on a Crest Century mixing console. Most monitor mixes are of the "in-ear" type, using the new wireless system from Shure Bros. Ramirez, wearing a system similar to equipment used by each band member, works carefully to custom-tailor a mix for each individual musician.

Both stage monitor and front-of-house soundmixers have their hands full during the show, with many inserted sound effects in addition to a rapidly-changing music mix that includes seven different accordians, each fitted with a special microphone and wireless transmitter.

When possible and if time permits, group members will check out their own instruments and monitor mixes. However, the task of setting the sound system up in preparation for the show falls almost entirely on the production crew, who do complete line checks and daily adjustments for each instrument.

SHOWTIME

Always the featured 'headline' act on a show, Los Tigres del Norte will often be supported by other, regional bands who set up their own stages and sound equipment, and work as opening acts for Los Tigres' concert. "Our shows often don't actually start until after 9:00 PM and the whole thing can last until 2:00 AM or later," noted Refugio.

Refugio mans a 40-input Soundcraft Vienna II console, which is used to drive JBL DSC280 and DSC260 digital system controllers. Although the DSC280 is a four-way unit, the DSC260 is set up with a separate feed to push the bass units, and to stand by as a 'spare' controller in case of primary-unit failure. A dbx 160A compressor-limiter is put across each of the left, right and subwoofer feeds. Refugio uses a BSS FCS-960 dual-channel graphic equalizer for the main house system tuning. To help ensure against electrical line problems, the front-of-house rack is fitted with a Furman power conditioner.

BSS DN504 Quad Compressor-limiters are in use as channel-inserted devices. Special-effects processors from Lexicon (PCM90 and MPX1) and Roland (SDE330 delays) are in use. Fostex SPA-11 cue speakers are used at the front of house position, as Refugio pre-sets a variety of sound effects.

"We drive this system hard, but we are not just trying to make things loud. With Los Tigres' accordians, guitar work and punchy bass guitar, we need not only a lot of power, but fine musical detail, and the crowd loves it!", enthuses Refugio. "We have what might seem small…just a 32+16 unit system…but our rig definitely outpowers a larger number of boxes from other manufacturers that don't have JBL's new high performance technologies inside. The other sound engineers who see and hear this system at our shows are usually jealous!"

ON THE ROAD

Production coordinator Miguel Ramirez notes that the sound and lighting crew for Los Tigres are one of the most tireless in all of Latin America. "This band tours non-stop. It is nothing for us to set up and do 5 and 6 shows a week, driving all night over back-country roads, and barely getting our rig up in time. The band doesn't like to disappoint their fans, and the strength and simplicity of the HLA system's rigging hardware gives us a big advantage over other types of speakers," he explains. "Every minute we save on setup is another minute of rest for my crew! JBL's HLA rig has let Los Tigres' shows stand out from other acts by letting us quickly get set up on a daily basis, and present a world-class concert quality sound."

Los Tigres del Norte maintain a tight touring schedule, sometimes playing in excess of 200 shows per year. And, when in Mexico, the band typically travels with self-contained production: all trucks, generators, staging equipment, lighting and sound equipment are either owned by or are under direct control of the group.

"Audiences throughout Mexico have come to expect a Los Tigres show to be not just a concert, but a 'happening'," advises Miguel Ramirez. "And, we are constantly challenged as we put up our stage, sound and lighting equipment in areas that are not optimum for live shows. Many of our concerts take place in rural regions in the countryside, and on ranches…not often in the typically indoor venues you find in the major cities. This band really knows its audience, and like to be close to them. So, as a production crew, we are often forced to do things in new ways. That's one reason that the new JBL HLA system, with its quick rigging setup and clear, powerful sound, has enabled us to produce these shows in some out-of-the-way places, giving hundreds of thousands of fans a look at a true state-of-the-art concert production."

Los Tigres del Norte…"Idolos del Pueblo" (Idols of the People) as one of their many albums proclaims, are showing that, with carefully-engineered production systems and a dedicated live production crew, entertainment truly can be brought to people in rural regions who otherwise would not have a chance to experience such a well-produced concert event.