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Live Sound

Dierks Bentley Closes Out Tour with New PA

2018’s Mountain High tour saw the country artist notch 60-plus shows with his longtime crew along for the ride once again.

New York, NY (November 7, 2018)—Dierks Bentley spent much of this year on the road with his Mountain High Tour, which included a stop in September at the fabled Madison Square Garden arena in New York. While the 60-plus date tour is over, that doesn’t mean he’ll be stopping anytime soon; in addition to stray dates here and there, the artist is already gearing up for 2019’s Burning Man tour, which will trek through wintry Canada starting in January before going through the U.S. Midwest.

While this year’s journey saw Bentley play old favorites from across his nine studio albums, it served them up via something new—a massive PK Sound Trinity advanced robotic line array, bolstered by Gravity subwoofers. The tour typically put up main hangs with up to 16 Trinity boxes left and right of the stage, plus a dozen Trinity 10s for side hanging and front fills, per side. Additionally, a half-dozen Gravity 218 subwoofers were flown per side, with an optional six per side on the ground as needed, depending on the venue.

Bentley’s longtime front-of-house sound engineer James “Pugsley” McDermott said it was his first time using the PK Sound system. “It’s been a technological advancement not only in deployment, but also sonically,” he said. The tour used PK Sound’s Kontrol software in order to shape the speakers’ sound field as necessary, as the “robotic” part of the line array’s name stems from the software’s ability to physically adjust the speakers’ splay via remote control.

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“Every Trinity box can be whatever you want it to be,” McDermott said. “Each box can be set from anywhere between 50 and 120 degrees, and you can use them symmetrically or asymmetrically.” McDermott went on to reference a recent scenario from the Mountain High tour. “I was having problems with a side-hang blowing into a video wall to the side of the audience, and all I had to do was just close up the boxes that were pointed at it, and that solved the issue. Once you start eliminating reflections, and you start getting the rig to run efficiently—instead of having to fight the reflections and fight with the room—that’s where the Trinity really shines, because you have the ability to take the room out of the equation.”

Production manager Jay Ballinger felt the system sped up load-in and tear down: “I love how it flies vertical with the touch of a button, and with the built-in mechanics, it brings itself into curved position for the show. Trinity takes up less space both in the truck, as well as on stage and in the wings. The tour has cut its cable trunks by more than half, and we went from full-size cable trunks to half-size ones. Plus, it’s safer, because there is nothing to get your fingers stuck in.”

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Ballinger conceded that those weren’t the only reasons: “In a nutshell, it was about the bottom line. This is not a cheap PA, but at the end of the day it saved on touring costs, and it saved our crew from potential injuries, as well as truck space, weight, and fuel costs. But the real reason I fought so hard for this PA is that we want the best gear we can get for our tour and our team.”

PK Sound •