US Legend Neil Diamond has completed a European Tour with a JBL VTX Line Array package from SSE Audio Group.
Neil Diamond’s European Tour in June and July 2015 represented one of the first collaborative ventures for United Audio Companies (UAC), the audio rental partnership between SSE Audio and US based Sound Image.
SSE has recently invested in a JBL VTX Line Array package, to complement its existing systems from L-Acoustics, d&b and Meyer Sound.
VTX is the latest large format line array system from JBL designed for touring and fixed installation applications in medium to large scale venues. It hosts a number of patents for its driver waveguide and suspension systems and utilises JBL sister company Harmann’s amplification, DSP, control and system management technologies.
Why JBL VTX?
SSE Hire Director Yan Stile explained the strategy, “We’ve invested in the JBL VTX due to the demand for the system from many US artists. We’ve formed the UAC agreement with Sound Image, the idea being that artists can access common systems on both sides of the Atlantic. With many of Sound Image’s clients opting to use JBL it made perfect sense for SSE to invest in the VTX package.”
SSE MD John Penn added, “We first looked at the VTX when it was initially launched a couple of years back. Sound Image suggested it would be a useful addition for us, and assist the development of our mutual cooperation. Since the introduction JBL has introduced the new VTX25-II which features a new HF waveguide that provides better loading conditions for the HF driver. The result is a massive improvement, with much improved HF sensitivity and makes the whole system sound better. At the same time there has been significant improvements to the rigging system, and alongside this they have introduced the smaller but compatable VTX20 which is ideal for side hangs or smaller shows, to complete the range."
“By adding JBL VTX to our hire stock it gives all our clients more options. SSE can now offer large format line array systems from four separate manufacturers which puts us in an exceptionally strong position as a rental house.”
Neil Diamond World Tour 2015
US Audio Company Sound Image has been contracted worldwide as audio supplier for Neil Diamond’s 2015 World Tour. After US dates the tour came to Europe in June. For the European leg Sound Image supplied and shipped the control and monitors package while SSE supplied the JBL VTX package, identical to the one that had been used on the opposite side of the Atlantic for the US dates.
The main L-R hangs comprised 16 x JBL VTX V25-II cabinets with 12 VTX S-28 subs flown alongside. Out hangs were 16 x VTX-20s with VT 4886s providing infill where necessary, and a further 12 x VTX20’s for 270° coverage in larger arenas. All amplification was provided by 96 Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers, equating to in excess of 1.5 million watts of audio power.
Front of house engineer Stan Miller has worked with Neil Diamond for the past 47 years. Stan was pleased with the VTX V25-II system. “I’ve used VerTec systems for a long time, and this new version [VTX 25-II] is the best ever,” he says. “The rigging is much slicker and goes up faster, and the sound of the system is amazing.”
Dave Shadoan, president of Sound Image commented, “Stan Miller has been a good friend for decades, and Sound Image has wanted to work with him on a Neil Diamond tour for many years, so I’m thrilled that this tour has given Stan the best system he has ever heard.”
The VTX25-II line array system is monitored and controlled with JBL HiQnet Performance Manager software. Miller notes that during this course of this long tour they will play every kind of venue that exists with every kind of variable, so “it’s imperative for this show to sound its best in spite of the issues or idiosyncrasies each room may throw our way. There’s no question that arenas have their acoustic challenges, but no matter what we’re up against, this system delivers.”
Yamaha CL for FOH and Monitors
Stan Miller used a Yamaha CL5 console for the tour. As a long term PM5D user this was the first time Stan had taken the CL5 on tour. He’s a fan of the new console's small footprint despite having to handle 72 mono and eight stereo inputs. The consoles remote I/O and and greatly expanded effects all simplify the task of mixing Neil Diamond as he performed to packed arena shows. The CL5 onboard effects rack now includes VCM analog circuitry modeling technology, plus a premium rack with Rupert Neve Design’s Portico 5033 EQ and 5043 compressor.
For the tour Neil Diamond peforms with a full band comprising four horns, two guitars, two keyboards, two background singers, and bassist, percussionist and drummer. The role of monitor engineer for them all falls to Bernie Becker, a comparative newcomer having only worked with Neil Diamond since 1989.
The whole monitor mix is via IEM with each musician having an Aviom personal 16 channel mixer to get the mix they like while Becker uses two Yamaha CL1 consoles for Neil Diamond’s mix - which includes 24 mics pointing at the seating to pick up the noise of the audience!
Summing up the tour Stan Miller commented, "The JBL VTX system is the very best we have ever used for a tour, with the most amazing consistency from night to night. The secret with any system is the setup and having the right people to get it working right."