Clearwing Brings Out L-Acoustics for Summerfest

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Violent Femmes on the Miller Lite Oasis Stage

Photos: Arden Ash

Milwaukee's Summerfest celebrated its 40th anniversary at Henry Maier Festival Park between June 28 and July 8, where almost a million people made their way to the festival grounds to eat and drink at nearly 50 diverse food and beverage vendors, shop at four large marketplaces and check out a never-ending stream of bands— more than 550 in total performing on a dozen different large-scale concert stages.

Milwaukee World Festival Inc., the non-profit group responsible for Summerfest, called upon local production company Clearwing Productions to handle the lion’s share of this year’s sound reinforcement duties. In turn, Clearwing again chose to largely rely on L-Acoustics loudspeakers—more than 200 enclosures in total—to deliver audio to the masses. Clearwing specified a 24-box KUDO system for the Miller Lite Oasis Stage that benefited from the first use of L-Acoustic’ new SB28 subwoofer, which hasn’t even officially been introduced to the marketplace yet.

According to Clearwing’s resident Certified V-DOSC Engineer (CVE) Scott Sugden, “We were fortunate to get our hands on 16 of the very first SB28 subwoofers shipped to the U.S. just in time for this festival and were extremely happy with how they performed. Although I’ve always considered the SB218 to be a great sub enclosure, the new SB28 offers a significant increase in overall output. It’s astounding; I’ve never heard so much low end out of so few subs in all my life! Chicago rap artist Lupe Fiasco performed at the Oasis Stage on the final night of the festival and there was so much low end coming off the stage that it was overpowering acts on several other stages in the area.

“But even more than that, the SB28 really offers a musical improvement and much tighter sound," he continues. "It’s simply a better-sounding box than its predecessor, performing extremely well on everything from jazz and blues to rock and hip hop.”

The SB28 subs, groundstacked eight per side, along with the twin 12-box flown KUDO arrays, were used to provide reinforcement for a highly diverse roster of artists during the festival’s 11 days, including All-American Rejects, Augustana, the Black Crowes, Goo Goo Dolls, Buddy Guy, Heart, Live, O.A.R., Sister Hazel, hometown faves Violent Femmes and many others.

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L-Acoustics’ Florent Bernard and Bob Alumbaugh with Clearwing’s Scott Sugden and an unidentified member of IATSE Local 18 preparing to fly a KUDO array

“The KUDO and SB28 combo sounded really nice, and I had a number of touring engineers tell me that it was one of the best-sounding P.A.s they’d ever heard,” Sugden adds. “I love the way that L-Acoustics has integrated the amplification and DSP into the new LA8 amplified controllers. And the new KUDO presets have really impressed me; they’ve dramatically improved the voicing of the box. Again, I’ve always liked the sound of KUDO, but now it’s really been fine-tuned and I find it even easier to get a phenomenal vocal range out of the enclosure.”

Complementing the KUDO and SB28 enclosures, the Oasis Stage loudspeaker count also comprised two ARCS enclosures per side for far-left and -right fill, and two ARCS flown from the center of the stage ceiling for front-fill. Two more ARCS and two dV-SUB subwoofers per side were used for side-fill, while a dozen 115XT HiQ wedges were located onstage for monitoring. An additional dV-SUB was further paired with one of the HiQ wedges for drum fill, and all systems were powered by L-Acoustics amplification.

L-Acoustics sent Oxnard, Calif.–based customer service manager Bob Alumbaugh and France-based tour sound technical support manager Florent Bernard to aid with the system setup and tuning.

“We really appreciated the onsite support that L-Acoustics provided; Bob was great to work with and Florent was obviously a tremendous help and resource for us, as one would expect from a guy of his caliber,” notes Sugden, referring to the fact that Bernard has collaborated as a CVE and sound designer with many top international artists, including Radiohead, Peter Gabriel, Nine Inch Nails and Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Seeing that most of us here at Clearwing hadn’t really had much experience with KUDO—and certainly no experience with the SB28 with it being brand new—having the manufacturer dedicate a week to support us onsite was absolutely invaluable.”

For additional information on L-Acoustics, visit www.l-acoustics.com. For Mix's profile on Clearwing Productions, click here.