Neon Trees' FOH engineer Neal Duffy (left) and production manager Mike Bangs
VUE Audiotechnik reports that Neon Trees will tour this summer in support of their forthcoming album, Pop Psychology (releasing on April 22), with the company's al-8 and al-4 line array systems. The band's production manager, Mike Bangs, assembled a new cross-stage monitoring system using a single al-8 element and hs-25 subwoofer on both sides of the stage facing inward. A pair of subcompact al-4 elements placed directly in front of each al-8/hs-25 combination provide additional front fill. The two al-4 stacks are angled slightly inward for ideal coverage directly in front at center stage, which is a critical "sweet spot" for Neon Trees' audiences.
A pair of VUE V6 Systems Engines handle power and processing for the al-4 and al-8 line array elements. Both V6 units are networked along with the self-powered hs-25 subwoofers and accessible via the SystemVUE control and monitoring software.
The VUE h-8 sits atop an hs-25 subwoofer for cross-stage monitoring; the al-4 stack is for front fill. In the back, Mike Bangs is running monitors.
"We've been using line array elements for additional monitor and sidefill support since 2004," Bangs says. "Their low profile and high output ensure good coverage across and immediately in front of the stage. Plus their compact size keeps sight lines clear and makes for easy transport.
"Over the years we've tried boxes from most of the well known brands, but we've always struggled to achieve a good balance of output and fidelity," Bangs says. "In my experience, most line array elements break down sonically when pushed beyond even moderate volume levels."
Bangs says he was curious about VUE's new al-Class systems and their beryllium compression driver technology. "I've known Mike Adams [VUE Audiotechnik design chief] for many years and have always been a fan of his work," Bangs says. "When I found out Mike was working for VUE and developing line arrays with beryllium components, I immediately reached out to see if he had a solution to our ongoing challenge."
Neon Trees' bassist Branden Campbell onstage with the VUE system.
VUE line arrays use a specially designed compression driver that incorporates a Truextent beryllium diaphragm at its core. Beryllium is said to deliver better high frequency performance due to its extremely high stiffness-to-mass ratio, which dramatically reduces breakup at high output levels. The net result is greatly improved high frequency performance at much higher SPLs than more conventional aluminum or titanium designs.
"With every other system we've tried, I reach a point where I literally have to choose between output and intelligibility," Bangs says. "But the VUE line arrays have no problem delivering on both fronts. We can literally push them to their limits and they remain perfectly clean and clear. And their coverage all the way to the center and directly in front of the stage is nothing short of exceptional."
Bangs adds that he and the Neon Trees' production team are equally pleased with the low frequency improvements brought about by the newly deployed VUE subwoofers.
"When I first set up the hs-25 subs, our bass player Branden [Campbell] literally stopped playing and asked, 'What is that?'" said Bangs. "The VUE subs not only deliver way more output, but they're much more musical than anything we've used before. You can actually hear notes, which is clearly what Branden was hearing."
Neon Trees begin a European trek on April 28 with shows in Germany, The Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom. Their U.S. leg kicks off in May.