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
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".
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
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.