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Morris Light & Sound Takes on CMA Fest

Morris tackles audio for Russell Dickerson, Maren Morris, Hunter Hayes and others as it fields d&b on five stages.

Nashville, TN (June 24, 2019)—Every year, CMA Fest takes over Nashville to bring fans and top country artists together, and this year was no different as the 48 edition was held June 6-9. Morris Light & Sound, long based in the region, provided audio for five stages around the festivities. While all involved had a great time, as with any festival situation, it was no walk in the park for audio personnel.

“Riverfront always presents a unique set of challenges,” said Chris Leonard, production manager and front of house engineer for Russell Dickerson. “You are walking up to backline gear that everyone shares and have a very short turn around period where you are not only setting your own gear up, but also trying to get the backline set and build mixes, all in a 15-20 minute set change. As the FOH engineer, we are pretty much flying blind into the first song, and basically have just enough time to grab some quick gain and a little EQ and then it’s off to the first song.”

Morris Light & Sound provided brand-new d&b audiotechink KSL and GSL systems at the Chevy Riverfront Stage, providing sound for the Eli Young Band, Maddie and Tae, and Michael Ray, and likewise provided the new systems at the Ascend Firestone Country Roads Stage, which presented Brett Young, Maren Morris and Hunter Hayes.

Morris Light & Sound utilized d&b ArrayCalc and NoizCalc software suites to carefully plan each system configuration and ensure there would be no sound interference between the two systems nor in the neighboring residential areas during the performances.

The d&b ArrayCalc simulation software is used for design, performance prediction, alignment, rigging, and safety of d&b systems, predicting how a d&b system will perform in a given audience area. Meanwhile, NoizCalc is simulation software for predicting noise emissions when one or more d&b sound systems are in an area. Combined with data from an ArrayCalc file, it calculates a map on the 3D terrain showing the noise levels from the stage, or stages, into the surrounding areas beyond the venue. The result is the ability to predict the noise emissions impacting neighboring areas and dial in the systems to create an optimal and reliable sonic experience delivered to just the right listeners.

60 Seconds with Larry Italia of d&b audiotechnik Americas

“The first time I heard my lead vocal was at the start of my set,” said Chris Leonard afterwards. “The d&b KSL and DiGiCo SD12 provided such an incredible platform to start with that I didn’t need to spend much time at all chasing either. My entire mix came together so quickly; it was shocking. I also didn’t have to even come close to getting into feedback on anything. With KSL being a fully cardioid system, it was a huge plus with this type of throw and go situation.

“With the given circumstances of set changes, one of the main concerns is making sure your artists are comfortable on stage and feel good with their IEM mixes,” said Leonard. “Both the Morris stage crew and monitor engineer, Jeremy Bayne, were excellent to work with. My band and artist walked off stage after the set raving about how great their mixes were. The guys at Morris have this down to a science and excelled at the tight turnarounds. These festival experiences are usually what I dread all year, but I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable experience.”

Bringing the KSL and GSL boxes to bear, the Ascend Firestone Stage featured 28 x GSL loudspeakers, 12 x SL-SUBs, and 6 x Y10Ps. The Riverfront Stage configuration included 24 x KSL tops for mains, 24 x J-Series tops for out hang, 16 x J-SUBSs, 6 x SL-SUBs, and 6 x Y10P loudspeakers.

The Closeup Stage in the Music City Center (MCC) included 16 x J-Series loudspeakers, 8 x J-SUBs, and 4 x Y10Ps. The Disney Stage (in the MCC) was configured with 12 x d&b V-Series tops, 8 x V-SUBs, and 2 x V10P loudspeakers. The Spotlight Stage (in the MCC) consisted of 2 x V10P loudspeakers and 2 x V-SUBs.

All speakers for the five stages were powered from D80s with the Ascend and Riverfront stages also utilizing ArrayProcessing for even coverage across the listening planes.

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David Haskell, president & director of Business Development at Morris Light & Sound, stated, “We were so happy to have partnered again with d&b on the deployment of such cutting-edge technology. It further gave us the ability to service our clients with great success, and for that we are very pleased!”

Morris •

d&b audiotechnik •