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The Sound of CMA Fest’s Main Stage

Sound Image Nashville covered more than 90,000 music fans at Nissan Stadium during CMA Fest.

Nissan Stadium drew record crowds for CMA Fest’s 50th anniversary.
Nissan Stadium drew record crowds for the 50th anniversary of CMA Fest.

Nashville, TN (July 11, 2023)—It’s always a big deal in Twang Town when CMA Fest rolls around, but when the 50th anniversary one was held last month, it was an even bigger deal than usual. Running June 8-11, more than  300 artists and acts participated, performing for more than 90,000 enthusiastic fans across five live venues, including Nissan Stadium, on each of its four days. Much as it has since 2012, Sound Image Nashville tackled sound for the festival’s biggest stage, once again fielding an L-Acoustics K Series concert sound system.

The main stage in particular hosted performances with the likes of Alabama, Ashley McBryde, Dan + Shay, Dierks Bentley, Elle King, Jason Aldean, Lainey Wilson, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Tanya Tucker, Tim McGraw and more. As  Sound Image system engineer Bill Chase, designer for the project, put it, “It was a festival of primarily A-level artists who all have their very specific demands for audio. It’s also a high-profile event with very high expectations. Literally, everybody in the industry comes, and the festival is televised. We’ve found that no one is disappointed when they discover they’re going to be mixing on an L-Acoustics system.”

FOH Engineer Taylor Bray (right) manning Dan + Shay’s mix at CMA Fest with assistance from Systems Engineer Chris Bloch (left).
FOH Engineer Taylor Bray (right) manning Dan + Shay’s mix at CMA Fest with assistance from Systems Engineer Chris Bloch (left).

Also on hand to keep that K Series system running smoothly were Sound Image crew chief Philip Piercy, previous system engineer Roz Jones, and a team from L-Acoustics that included applications engineer Vic Wagner, touring engineer Liaison David Brooks, and applications consultant Erika West.

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Although Nissan Stadium has fairly predictable acoustics, it does possess some unique features that can affect sonic response, including a very large video wall at one end. Chase explains, “If you were to deploy the PA as most would, which is to use the mains to cover as much as possible, you’d end up with a lot of slap-back. So, we avoided that by tightly covering the field and lower bowl with our main hangs and then using the out-fills and delays to address the rest. Some of the arrays were asked to cover well beyond what one might typically think would be possible, but Soundvision showed us that the system we designed would work—and it did. There was impact from the kick drum and full frequency response everywhere—even in the farthest reaches—and no sound quality compromises whatsoever to any seat in the house.”

Nissan Stadium’s main stage system, designed in Soundvision, utilized 52 K1 and 68 K2 line source array enclosures. Left and right main hangs sported six K1-SB over 14 K1 and four K2 downs, while the out-fill arrays counted 12 K1 over 12 K2. Low-frequency coverage was reinforced by 36 ground-based KS28 subs, stacked three-high in a cardioid configuration, as well as 10 K1-SB per side flown behind the mains to aid in even coverage and rearward rejection. Eight additional K2 were hung per side as far out-fills for the upper bowl seats, and 10 more K2 per side were flown out in the gridiron seating for delay. A dozen Kara II used as various fills rounded out the enclosure tally, while 90 LA12X amplified controllers powered the system, which was processed via the L-Acoustics P1 Milan AVB processor and M1 measurement tool.