Despite the laid-back, beach-bumming aesthetic of his music, Jimmy Buffett is one of the most active entertainers in show business. Since cementing his stardom with the 1977 mega-hit “Margaritaville,” the barefoot soft-rocker has released dozens of albums, toured around the world several times and built an empire of resorts, restaurants, beach gear, food products and more. Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band are currently on the road as part of the Son of a Son of a Sailor High Tide Tour, which kicked off in March at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho.
Needless to say, a top-tier act like Jimmy Buffett demands top-tier production, and Sound Image has been his go-to provider for years. One of the country’s largest tour sound companies, Sound Image has provided support for countless big-name acts, including Brian Wilson, John Denver, Melissa Etheridge and No Doubt, to name a few. To deliver an unforgettable experience for loyal Buffett fans, known as ‘Parrotheads’, Sound Image has deployed a state-of-the-art JBL Professional sound system featuring VTX A12 line array loudspeakers.
“The big challenge with this tour is getting Jimmy’s vocals above the crowd, which can be kind of loud and rambunctious at times,” said Matt Kornick, Systems Engineer, Sound Image. “The A12 loudspeakers are really helpful in this. They’re really tight and the vocals just really pop. You almost can’t make them muddy.”
The next-generation JBL A12 line array loudspeaker is designed specifically to address the unique challenges of modern tour sound production. Featuring two 12-inch Differential Drive woofers, four mid-frequency elements and three D2 compression drivers, the A12 delivers powerful sound with a high degree of linearity all the way down to 49 Hz. An improved Radiation Boundary Integrator (RBI) waveguide delivers focused 90-degree coverage with reduced horn edge diffraction and lower distortion than ever. Additionally, the A12’s lightweight cabinet features an all-new rigging system for extremely fast, safe and reliable deployment.
“I love the A12,” said Rich Davis, Front of House Engineer, Sound Image. “The rigging is spectacular. It goes up fast; it comes down fast. We can do it with two of us, without stagehands, and the box sounds wonderful. The low-end responds really nicely. I can keep the kick drum and bass fat in a 12-inch speaker.”
Supplementing the A12 in the main arrays is the JBL VTX V25, a high-directivity three-way loudspeaker with two 15-inch woofers, four 8-inch mid-frequency drivers and three D2 compression drivers. JBL VTX V20 loudspeakers are used as front-fill speakers and center clusters, with 105-degree dispersion to fill in any gaps in coverage. JBL G28 dual 18-inch subwoofers contribute extended bass response and high output due to their extremely high, peak-to-peak excursion capabilities.
The Sound Image team uses JBL’s VERTEC Line Array Calculator II (LAC) and Performance Manager software to fine-tune the sound system before each show. LAC performs advanced acoustical modeling simulations, allowing Sound Image technicians to calculate the system’s performance and coverage characteristics and determine the best setup for each individual venue. JBL Performance Manager provides testing, tuning and calibration features as well as system health updates and adjustments like EQ, delay and gain shading to further dial in the sound.
“The first thing we do when we come into a venue in the morning is use the JBL Line Array Calculator,” said Davis. “We take a rangefinder that does distance and angle, we measure the venue and then we put that into Performance Manager, which circuits the boxes the way that you’ve circuited them in the Line Array Calculator. Then, Performance Manager allows you to EQ, delay and shade the different boxes. If you need to turn the boxes in front down because they’re a lot closer to the people, you can turn those down in Performance Manager. It also shows you if you have any problems; it gives you a system health check.”
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