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Theatrical Production “Love, Janis” Premiere’s JBL’s New Powered Full-Size VERTEC® System


Marking the first commercial use of JBL Professional‘s new powered full-size VERTEC® VT4889ADP full-range line array element and VT4880ADP companion subwoofer with JBL DrivePack® technology, San Diego-based Meeting Services Inc. is providing audio, lighting and projection needs for the national tour of “Love, Janis.”

The musical theater production is based upon the life and music of 60’s rock-and-roll icon Janis Joplin. Inspired by the best-selling book, “Love, Janis” by Laura Joplin, the singer’s younger sister, the show‘s entire spoken text comes directly from Janis Joplin herself–from actual letters to her family and from her many press, radio and TV interviews. The show is presented by Columbia Artists Theatricals (CAT), which specializes in the distribution and production of commercial and theatrically staged live entertainment on a worldwide basis. The production features general management by Paul Rambacher, set design by Norman Schwab, tour light and projection design by Jeffrey Cady using original 1960s psychedelic lightshow images from San Francisco’s legendary Bill Ham, and sound design by Eric Stahlhammer.

“Love, Janis” is playing in a wide range of venues nationwide. The current tour leg is scheduled into midsize proscenium-stage theaters, such as the 1,167-seat Parker Playhouse in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where the show was staged February 29-March 2. This classic stage house features musical performances, dramatic activities and educational programming throughout the year. Sound designer Eric Stahlhammer relied on JBL’s new powered full-size system “on the boards” to give the classic-rock, period-authentic show a full-range, dynamic sound as the production moved through classic Janis Joplin songs like “Piece of My Heart,” “Down On Me,” “Ball and Chain,” “Mercedes Benz” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

“The brand-new VT4889ADP system is powerful and full-bodied, with its 15-inch low-frequency woofers. It has all the acoustical hallmarks of the standard VT4889 with the addition of integrated power and digital signal processing,” commented Stahlhammer, a veteran theatrical sound designer who has designed sound for tours of “Csardas” and “Gypsy Spirit” and counts numerous music-based productions like “Always…Patsy Cline,” “Almost Heaven: Songs and Stories of John Denver” and “Hank Williams: Lost Highway” among his credits. “Having a powered speaker system for this production saves us both setup time and backstage space. Now that Meeting Services has supplied this new audio package for the tour, I can’t imagine using any other system to do this show.”

The JBL VERTEC VT4889ADP full-range, high directivity line array element and companion VT4880ADP Ultra-Long Excursion arrayable subwoofer are integrated audio systems featuring field-proven JBL DrivePack technology. The VT4889ADP weighs only 93.1 kg (205 lb) and each unit is capable of delivering 143 dB SPL maximum output (1 m). The VT4880ADP subwoofer is capable of delivering 137 dB SPL (1 m) and weighs only 99.9 kg (220 lb), enabling the construction of large, extremely powerful arrays of multiple units. The subwoofer is designed to be suspended in stand-alone arrays, coupled with VT4889ADP’s in the same array, or ground-stacked as required.

The high-performance JBL DrivePack electronics modules include an auto-sensing Universal Power Supply and a fan-free, passive, cooling design. The standard input module features analog audio inputs, dbx’s Type IV™ analog-to-digital conversion circuitry, and sophisticated onboard digital signal processing technology. Precision bandpass limiting, pre-equalization filters and automatic self-test functions ensure optimized performance. The modular input bay design allows for insertion of optional networked modules, which offer users a choice of digital audio and remote control and monitoring access via HiQnet™ System Architect software. The VT4889ADP and its companion subwoofer, the VT4880ADP, are pre-configured from the JBL factory with JBL’s new V4 DSP preset data, developed with the aid of JBL’s exclusive LDM™ (Loudspeaker Data Manager) software, and offering optimized acoustical performance.

For front fill applications, Stahlhammer’s sound design for “Love, Janis” includes JBL’s compact VRX928LA two-way loudspeakers, arrayed on the stage lip to cover forward seating rows in the theatrical playhouses on the national tour. “I can see numerous applications for JBL speakers in touring theatrical-style productions,” observed Stahlhammer. “My design criteria has always been to give audiences the best sound possible in coordination with a given script and stage set. This system package is giving us excellent results from both a sonic and practical point of view, and the show has been getting excellent reviews. The audience is on their feet and singing along, every night.”

“Love, Janis” will be appearing for multiple nights at theater venues in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachussets, Ohio, Texas and California through June including Philadelphia‘s Zellerbach Theater, Boston‘s Majestic Theater, Los Angeles‘ Wilshire Theater, and Modesto‘s Gallo Center for the Arts.

“Touring musical theater productions like ‘Love, Janis’ can be very challenging for production crews, as setup restrictions, limited backstage space and cross-country travel put time at a premium for stagehands and traveling crews alike,” noted David Scheirman, Vice President of Tour Sound, JBL Professional. “These new powered full-size models provide a comprehensive set of solutions for high-end, powered loudspeaker applications. We’re encouraged to see how this new system is assisting professional users in not only the traditional concert rental and corporate A/V production segments, but also those who serve theatrical and performing-arts environments.”

Program and schedule details for Columbia Artists Theatricals’ presentation of “Love, Janis” can be found at

Meeting Services, Inc. can be reached at (858) 348-0100 and at