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XXXX Audio Systems
(California, USA)


XXXX Audio of Sacramento, California (pronounced "4X") recently took delivery of a new HLA system in August, 1999. The firm recently fielded its new system to fulfill a contract for all concerts at the California State Fair's legendary Cal Expo Ampitheatre. National touring performing artists like K.C. and The Sunshine Band, Earth Wind & Fire, Carman, Sawyer Brown, Kool & The Gang, John Michael Montgomery, Styx, and Kansas all relied on XXXX Audio for their concert sound needs for shows held from August 20-September 6.

Owner Doug Pumphrey, who has been providing professional portable sound reinforcement systems since 1982, has seen a number of changes take place on the national touring scene. "It's not enough anymore for regional firms to just have a sound system that works," advises Pumphrey. "It's vital that a pro-level rental company be able to provide systems that work really, really well. The packaging, signal processing, power, rigging and everything else needs to be thought through very carefully. And an audio rental crew today should be very customer-oriented, with a clear, methodical plan for setting the system up and doing the show like clockwork. Servicing national concert touring artists is a demanding profession, and there is little room for error".

Pumphrey also notes that due to rigorous travel schedules, touring soundmixers often have little time to familiarize themselves with regionally-supplied loudspeaker systems. "There are more and more choices on the market today when it comes to speaker systems and mixing consoles. Each touring person may have their ideal favorite, but these days, more so than specific brands of equipment, it is really the overall service package provided by the rental sound company that matters most," Pumphrey relates. "Touring crews can immediately tell if a rental company has it together, or not." Pumphrey counts clean cabling systems, flexible signal processing racks and rock-solid A.C. electrical power distribution systems among the paramount issues for a sound rental company to deal with.

XXXX Audio initiated their new 32+24 HLA system with concerts for artists like Megadeth, Journey and Foreigner. The system was then loaded into the 10,000-seat Cal Expo Ampitheatre to handle the run of shows for the 1999 California State Fair, sponsored by Pontiac-GMC. XXXX Audio engineer Carl Sagen hung a total of 16 HLA 4895 three-way array modules and 12 HLA 4897 bass modules in seven vertical columns per side, with all speakers flown off the stage deck.

Relying on ATM truss modules and C/M Lodestar chain-motor hoists, XXXX Audio technicians worked with local IATSE stagehands to suspend the HLA loudspeaker arrays from truss structures supplied by Stages Unlimited. "The HLA system rigging is fast and slick," points out Carl Sagen. "With the aluminum I-beam connecting and lifting bars, it is one of the simplest mechanical solutions available for quickly assembling large portable loudspeaker arrays. And, it has a lot of acoustical output for a relatively low-weight package."

XXXX Audio's rental system inventory includes new low-profile, JBL-loaded stage monitors. Each model MX-12 floor wedge, built for XXXX Audio by Flag Systems, is equipped with a JBL 2206 12" loudspeaker and a JBL 2451 compression driver. Custom-bent birch plywood and robust perforated steel grilles make a unique, compact, and attractive package. "Good concert sound starts on stage with the artists," notes Sagen. "When they hear themselves well, they can play their best. The stage monitor system is not the place to scrimp on gear." For the slate of shows in the Cal Expo Ampitheatre, XXXX Audio provided a Ramsa SX-1A monitor mixing console.

The front-of-house system signal path included a Yamaha PM4000 main mixing console, BSS Varicurve and BSS 960 equalizers, XTA Model 226 digital system controllers and Crown MA-5000 and MA-2400 power amplifiers. The MA-5000's, with up to 2,000 watts per channel into a 4-ohm load, supply power to the HLA system's subwoofer, low and midrange components. XXXX Audio considers power amplifier headroom a key factor when it comes to supplying high-quality rental systems to their customers.

"We evaluate equipment carefully before we select it, and then we work hard to standardize our equipment racks, so that patching and interconnections are quick and reliable," explains owner Doug Pumphrey. "When touring engineers come in to do a show on one of our systems, our goal is to promptly provide the functionality they require," he relates. "This way they are free to focus on mixing the music they are familiar with".

Mike Brown, touring soundmixer for Earth Wind & Fire, related well to this concept. "The XXXX guys have been real smooth to work with& everything's there, this rig looks and sounds clean, they are definitely on top of it," enthused Brown during the group's concert on August 22nd. While this show marked Brown's first chance to mix on a JBL HLA system, he settled into his mix immediately as the band, marking their 30th Anniversary year, played hit after hit for an enthusiastic sold-out crowd.

Brown, based in Detroit, Michigan, has been mixing live music for over 25 years and counts soul diva Aretha Franklin among his mixing clients. "R&B music as played by Earth Wind & Fire has a powerful bottom end, a very solid rhythm foundation. But, top-end clarity is critical. The high-scale vocal harmonies, percussion detail, and horn section riffs are like trademarks for this band& it all has to come through, all over the venue," he expressed. "This system is doing the job, it is extremely powerful. It's clear, punchy and has an amazing amount of bass." XXXX Audio is located at 1831 2nd Street, Sacramento, California, 95814. The company can be reached by phone at (916) 443-3535.