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Festival Profile

Jumping at Jazz Fest’s Jazz & Heritage Stage

By Jim Beaugez. Propaganda Group tackled a variety of genres and groups with a new audio system.

New Orleans, LA (May 21, 2019)—There was a wild array of musical styles at the 50th New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival—not to mention the heat, humidity and thunderstorms—but Jefferson, LA-based audio/video production company Propaganda Group rose to the challenge as it fielded a sizable audio system for the Jazz and Heritage Stage.

Central to that effort was a Bose ShowMatch line array system that Jeffrey Gex, an audio vet who has worked with the Neville Brothers, Yes and more, oversaw as he ran the stage for Propaganda Group. Two eight-box main arrays included four ShowMatch SM5 5-degree boxes forming the top and mid section of each hang, with three SM10 10-degree boxes and one SM20 20-degree box rounding out the bottom of the curve. Four ShowMatch front fills were on deck, and a whopping 15 SMS118 subwoofers anchored bottom end across the frontline.

Thunder Rolls into the Studio

The result was a stage with almost too much extra firepower. “Having 15 subs and trying to stay below 100 dB is challenging,” says Gex, “but the cardioid preset for the subs seems to work pretty well. It’s well controlled, focused, right in the middle. If you walk around, you’ll notice that it tapers off to the sides pretty nicely.”

Each ShowMatch full-range enclosure has dual eight-inch drivers and four two-inch compression drivers; the compression drivers are crossed over at 750 Hz to keep the crossover point out of the vocal range.

“This provides a lot of benefits as far as clarity,” says Jeff Lange, a live sound field engineer with Bose Professional who was onsite, “because you’re not transitioning between the eight-inch drivers and the two-inch drivers as the vocal input changes in frequency. It’s very stable in that region—and it also shows itself really well with horns, like [on this stage].”

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With so many genres and instruments represented at every stage during Jazz Fest, versatility is key to success. Along with that comes a duty for a sound system to be as neutral and transparent as possible—a challenge Propaganda met with its Bose rig. “There isn’t a specific anomaly to the way this box sounds,” says John Koehler, director of Audio for Jazz Fest, commenting on the system. “They don’t have a box tuning that accentuates what a single type of music might require, but another type of music might suffer from.”

As a result, the ShowMatch system ably handled a wide variety of audio situations, from the bold swagger of the Storyville Stompers Brass Band to the percussive wallop of Big Chief Juan & Jockimo’s Groove, throughout the 8 days of Jazz Fest, allowing Propaganda Group to take everything thrown at it in stride.

Bose •

Propaganda Group •