For the 19th year, the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans hosted some of the biggest names in pop, R&B and hip-hop music, including Beyoncé, Maxwell, New Edition, Keyshia Cole, LL Cool J and Jill Scott. For the main stage in the Superdome, VER Tour Sound (VER) provided a massively sized Harman JBL VTX line array system powered by Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers.
With a ceiling height of more than 250 feet above the front-of-house position and a total volume of 125 million cubic feet, the main space in the Superdome posed some formidable acoustic challenges.
“The Superdome is such a reverberant space that we had to not only ensure that we were able to cover such a large area, but that we were able to do so while tightly controlling the dispersion to ensure even coverage throughout the space,” says Jason Vrobel, System Engineer for VER Tour Sound.
The P.A. system on the main stage featured 18 JBL VTX V25 full-size line array elements per side for the main arrays, with an additional 18 V25 elements on each side for side fill (hung at 45-degree angles relative to the main arrays), rounded out by another 12 V25 elements per side for rear fill (hung at 90-degree angles). For the low end, VER hung 16 VTX S28 subwoofers per side in a cardioid configuration behind the 45-degree angled arrays, along with 12 ground-stacked VTX G28 subwoofers per side. For center fill, VER hung left-right arrays of five VerTec VT4889 fullsize line array elements each, with six VT4887A compact line array elements on each side for front fill. The delay system featured a total of 24 VT4889 loudspeakers in four columns of six each.
One hundred fifty-four Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers powered the system, with I-Tech 4x3500HD amplifiers assigned to the high and mid frequencies and I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers powering the lows and subwoofers. The system was controlled via JBL HiQnet Performance Manager software.
“We had a lot better of an outcome than I anticipated considering how reverberant the Superdome is,” Vrobel says. “I attribute that to the VTX system and the support we received from HARMAN to help us properly configure the system and achieve uniform sound throughout the entire dome.
“The VTX system and the Crown amplifiers performed incredibly well—the producers from the festival told me it was the best it had sounded in the festival’s 18-year history,” Vrobel continues. “The support I received from [Senior Manager, Tour Sound, JBL] Paul Bauman, [Applications Engineer, JBL] Jay Fullmer and [Business Developer, Tour Sound, Crown] Eric Friedlander was fantastic and we’ll be working together a lot in the future.”
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