Southard Audio in Mount Crawford, Va., is a regional sound company that, during its 30-plus years in business, has made the move from local events to large arena-sized shows. Two major initiatives have powered this expansion: a long-term cooperative partnership with Richmond, Va., based Soundworks, and the companies' mutual reliance on Turbosound Flex Array loudspeakers.
Southard Audio’s setup and final deployment of Turbosound Flex Arrays and subwoofers for Snoop Dogg concert at WVU Coliseum, West Virginia University in Morgantown.
“Since we’re about two hours apart, it makes more sense to cooperate rather than compete," says Southard Audio founder and president Mike Southard of his company's partnership with Soundworks. "We combine our inventories as needed and make sure our amp racks are wired compatibly, which greatly extends both our capabilities. [Soundworks'] Steve Payne and I consult with each other on major purchases and try to have mutually compatible inventory. In fact, Soundworks owned the [Turbosound] Flex Array system that I auditioned before buying my own. This way, both companies can do larger events than we could do separately. It’s a great arrangement.
“Our relationship with Turbosound goes back more than 20 years,” Southard notes. “When it was time to expand into a line array system, it was easy to see the benefits of the Flex Array. It’s a great-sounding P.A., very loud for its footprint, with easy and straightforward rigging—a perfect complement to our existing inventory.
That system was put to the test at a recent 11,000-seat show featuring Snoop Dogg at the Coliseum of West Virginia University. Southard Audio partner Jason Misterka handled the advance work and on-site operations for this event.
“This was our first arena event for the school, and it was the largest concert audience the school had seen at this venue,” says Misterka. “As you can well imagine, an arena event with a national hip-hop act requires a substantial amount of horsepower. We ran the prediction software and were pretty amazed at the numbers, and during the show we had all the level we needed—quite a feat for a mid-sized line array.”
The main front-of-house P.A. for the show involved two speaker arrays comprised of 13 Turbosound Flex Array boxes each. Five TFA600-H boxes topped each array to handle the long throw duties, complemented by the wider dispersion of eight TFA600-HW speakers beneath.Subwoofers, probably the most critical element of the sound signature required by Snoop Dogg, were Turbosound TSW721, a single-driver, 21-inch horn-loaded design. A total of 24 subs were set up as a delay arc, with six stacks of four subs spread across the front of the stage.
“The delay arc sub array is a key element. You lose a little of the overall energy, which is why we used so many enclosures,” Southard explains. “But it gives you a much more even distribution of bass information throughout the venue and virtually eliminates the 'power alley.' This way, audience members on the extreme edges of coverage still hear a balanced, musical sound.”
Turbosound also played a vital role onstage, with a mix of ground-stacked Aspect 880 loudspeakers providing sidefills, augmented by eight more TSW721s for bass. “It was amazing, really,” says Southard. “When I look at how we use these speakers on our other jobs, the sidefill system was basically a P.A. system that would be sufficient for FOH for a 1,500-seat room under normal circumstances. “We had to satisfy the touring engineers in terms of volume, coverage and bass, and the WVU Coliseum was a real challenge,” Southard continues. “It’s a very lively room, and the very defined coverage of the Flex Array helped keep energy off the reflective surfaces, which was a big advantage. At the end of a long day, I’m happy to say that everyone went home happy.”
Southard Audio’s current inventory includes 16 Flex Array boxes (eight TFA600H, eight TFA600-HW), 22 Aspect TA-880s, 24 TSW721 subs, and eight TSW218 subs. Southard’s current plan is to add 16 more of the TFA600-HW wide throw boxes and 12 more TSW218 subs in the future.