Following in the footsteps of his fellow native Michigander, Eminem, Nathan Feuerstein—known by his rap moniker, NF—is quickly emerging as one of today’s most talented names in hip-hop. With the release of his latest record, Clouds (The Mixtape), NF recently hit the road for a 20-date, month-long Clouds Tour that stopped at a variety of amphitheaters across the US. To ensure that both the crisp vocal articulation and low-end impact critical to the genre were equally represented, Solotech carried an L-Acoustics K Series loudspeaker system for the trek.
Although this outing was NF’s first tour with sound reinforcement support from Solotech, L-Acoustics was no stranger to Travis Stoker, the artist’s FOH engineer and audio systems designer. “We’ve had L-Acoustics at the top of our rider for a while now as it’s always been a favorite of mine,” he shares. “NF’s first real experience with the brand was while he was a direct support act on Logic’s ‘The Bobby Tarantino Vs. Everybody’ tour in 2018, which flew K1 and K2. We kept referencing back to that tour, later on, recalling how incredible the PA was for everyone mixing on it. And, most importantly, NF loved the way that it sounded and felt. So even though this was our first tour carrying a PA for the full duration, K1/K2 was an easy choice for Production Manager Chris Denholm and me.”
According to Solotech Systems Engineer Alex Bibeau, NF’s full-sized rig for the largest venue stops consisted of four K1 over a dozen K2 per side for the main hangs, with twelve new K3 hung on the far left and right for outfill coverage. For ample low-frequency punch, eight K1-SB were flown behind each main array, bolstered down below by six trios of KS28 subs deployed in cardioid configuration across the face of the stage. Six Kara spaced out across the stage lip delivered frontfill, while two ARCS II per side handled immediate outfill coverage. For the stage, four K2 flown and two KS28 per side supplied sidefill coverage, complemented by eight X15 HiQ as monitor wedges. LA12X amplified controllers supplied all power for the tour.
“Although K1, K2, and K3 were the obvious stars of the system, I’ve found that K1-SB is a must-have for this type of music as it was very low-end-heavy and a powerful show,” Bibeau notes. “You can get the punch you want pretty much everywhere in the venue, even on the lawn, which is often 200 feet away.”
Stoker agrees: “For me, the K1-SB is an ideal low-end extension of the K1 and K2 in the main hangs. They made all the difference in getting the kick drum and 808s, which are well below 50 Hz, to hit you in the chest no matter where you were seated. With KS28, we were further layering that low end, especially in the very low octaves. We also used delay timing in the KS28 deployment to steer the LF outward a bit so that energy was dispersed from the center of the listening area, and the people on the edges of the room got more of that same experience. KS28 is incredible with the amount of air it’s able to move. All I could do was smile when I felt the ground moving underneath me.”
Bibeau points out that the tour also utilized the L-Acoustics P1 processor, which was particularly helpful for this outdoor run of shows. “We used two P1 at FOH for signal distribution with Avnu-certified switches,” he details. “Our full system used AVB protocol with an analog backup, and I took feeds from Travis’s DiGiCo SD10 console via AES and analog. Soundvision’s Autoclimate function with the P1 sensor is awesome as it allowed us to keep our system performance consistent with the temperature and humidity fluctuations, which can change quickly and frequently for open-air environments.”
“We used AVB to send audio from the P1 to the amps,” Stoker says. “This is because we knew that the AVB signal would be received at all of the amps at the same time, which keeps timing intact for individual boxes and components in the groups of PA. We also had analog redundancy in our system drive, which allowed us to A/B both signals and really listen to the difference. The global latency is less as well, which was a big plus.”
Consistent with what was first experienced as an opening act on Logic’s tour several years ago, Solotech’s L-Acoustics system for the Clouds Tour delivered another first-rate experience for NF’s engineering team. “I really appreciated the consistent coverage from front to back, especially in the low end,” Stoker points out. “And the system sounded excellent right out of the gate without having to hack at our EQs. The highs were very intelligible and shimmering but not too bright and brittle, the mids were full and round without getting muddy and jumbled, and I could hear and feel every single detail in the lows, whether it was a synth bass or a moving 808. It was all very well defined.”
“We relied heavily on the Panflex feature of K2 and K3,” he continues. “It’s great to have options with horizontal coverage, helping keep coverage where we specify and minimizing reflections on large surfaces, such as walls flanking the offstage sides of the PA. I should also mention that it was really nice to have the new K3 enclosures out on this tour. They sounded great in the listening areas they covered and felt very present and intelligible as if it was right in your face. Being smaller than a K1 or K2, it also saved us truck space, and being a two-way active speaker, it used half the amount of amplifier channels. A big consideration of this tour was truck space—everything production-wise had to fit into just four trucks. We had only one truck dedicated to the PA and all of it amazingly fit in there. A lot of this is due to Solotech’s incredible efficiency with packaging their systems.”
Stoker adds that he and Bibeau heard numerous compliments every night from a wide variety of people. “We had local stagehands and engineers on multiple occasions tell us how amazed they were by the clarity and power of the system. I figured that has to be saying something since they hear different loudspeakers in those same venues every day. And NF was also incredibly happy to carry this L-Acoustics system. I think he was more comfortable on stage than he has ever been, knowing that his music was being portrayed in the way that he intended it to be experienced.”