The Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF), an enduring international music festival for jazz musicians, enthusiasts and more, is now in its fourth decade. Montreux 2005 hosted 240,000 visitors listening to more than 200 artists over the festival’s 16-day July run. Jazz, funk, rock and pop legends, from McCoy Tyner to Alice Cooper to Zap Mama, played stages located in three main auditoriums, while smaller clubs and bars hosted additional acts. This year, Meyer Sound loudspeakers handled the event’s sound reinforcement.
For the past 19 years, Meyer Sound has been the official sound sponsor of the festival, often taking the opportunity to provide the event with the company’s latest products and innovations. This year, artists performing at three venues were treated to systems using the new MICA compact high-power curvilinear array loudspeaker. Other venues employed the MILO high-power curvilinear array loudspeaker, 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofer and numerous other Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers.
Marc de Fouquières of French rental company Dispatch acts as system technician for the sound systems. Niveau 2 Mediasystems is the festival’s main audio supplier. De Fouquières enjoys handling the changes in the festival and its sound systems from year to year. “Stravinski [Auditorium] was something of a challenge,” de Fouquières comments, “because we wanted to change the existing design of eight M3Ds [line array loudspeakers] and 12 M2Ds [compact curvilinear array loudspeakers], although that was very efficient for a simpler and even more efficient system of 20 MILOs.
“Since the M3D-Sub [directional subwoofer] is cardioid and the hall is very reverberant, we decided to use a delay alignment for the subs, achieving almost the same pattern using eight 700-HPs as we had previously with six M3D-Subs,” he details. “The larger angular splay steps available on the MILO rigging allowed us to avoid spilling HF energy onto the balcony front. Meanwhile, a central cluster of four MICAs handled the downfill coverage and four M1Ds [ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers] spaced across the front of the stage catered to the first two rows of seating. An LD-3 compensating line driver did the air absorption compensation EQ, allowing the use of a single general stereo EQ for tuning the whole system.”
Meyer Sound invited a diverse assortment of guests to check out the festival’s sound, including sound designers Nick Lidster, Rory Madden, Mick Potter and Paul Gatehouse; Simon Wingfield, head of sound at London’s Barbican Concert Hall; Paul “Pab” Boothroyd, FOH engineer for Paul McCartney, AC/DC and others; Barry Young, head of sound at Dunfermline, Scotland’s Carnegie Hall; Dave Shadoan of Sound Image in the U.S.; and Gaby van Amerongen and Sander Koers of Dutch Generations Light and Sound.
“The positive comments from those that came to the festival have been overwhelming,” says Meyer Sound’s Roger Harpum. “During the David Sanborn show in the Stravinski, Jon Lewis said to me, ‘It’s so transparent you forget you’re listening to a system,’ and Nick Lidster and Rory Madden told me the MICA systems were the most natural they’d ever heard!”
Engineer Paul Mitchell adds, “The thing with jazz is that you can’t change any sound: Each instrument is what it is. This appearance by Joe Sample is a simple, honest jazz trio. It’s a matter of true sound reinforcement: The sound system is chiefly for the vocals and just a little for the instruments, as required by their natural dynamics. In here, the transparency of the system is what it’s all about, especially for my band. The center cluster can even have just the vocal in it. No one’s going to say there’s too much vocal with this kind of an act: You want to hear every breath, every lip-smack, every nuance of this voice. And that’s why it sounds so good in here—you can.”
For more information, please go to www.meyersound.com.