Toronto, Canada, July 2010: The Toronto Jazz Festival takes place every year during the ten days that bridge the springtime memories of June and the hot summer reality of July. A tremendous number of artists participate, performing in venues located throughout the Canadian metropolis to some 500,000 attendees from around the world. This year, the largest acts performed at the 1,200-seat Nathan Phillip Square main stage, where FOH engineer Brad Mulligan commanded an Innovason Eclipse digital console.
At its back end, an L-ACOUSTICS dV-DOSC line array system conveyed the reality and intimacy of the music with clarity at every seat in the venue. At its front end, a large collection of Sennheiser and Neumann wired microphones provided stellar pickup of any instrument that the bands (figuratively) threw at him. Sennheiser wireless 2000 Series mics allowed vocalists to roam, and Sennheiser wireless G3 Series personal monitors inspired fully-immersed grooves.
“The most difficult thing about the Nathan Phillip Square’s main stage is that it is neither inside nor outside,” said Mulligan. “Rather, it is a tent. I’ve got a vinyl structure above and around me, and concrete below. Both are highly reflective and together create a very live “room.” Without solid walls or ceiling, the bottom-end characteristics are that of an outdoor event. It’s challenging to say the least. Our objective was to deliver not just passable sound, but excellent sound, so we needed a line array with both accurate pattern control and superior fidelity.”
The L-ACOUSTICS dV-DOSC system fits those requirements – as well as a few other requirements – perfectly. There are weight restrictions on the tent structure, and at only 70 lbs. (32 kgs.) each, the dV-DOSC components were well within the limits. “The compact boxes were able to accommodate everything from the most intimate jazz quartet like the Dave Young Quartet, to the hard rocking blues artists, like Taj Mahal,” said Mulligan. “The fidelity was fantastic and the tightly controlled coverage pattern was even across a 260 degree seating area, with very little sound reflecting off the sides of the tent.” Six dV-DOSC HF/MF components adorned each side of the stage with four L-ACOUSTICS KIVA loudspeakers added for side fill. Two stacks of three L-ACOUSTICS SB28 subwoofers delivered chest-worthy bass. To maximize their impact, Mulligan employed an electronically steerable cardioid output pattern for each subwoofer stack, which prevented low-end buildup in the center of the seating area.
The Innovason Eclipse digital console at FOH simplified the jobs of Brad Mulligan and for the various artists’ personal engineers. As one would expect, the console is instantly recallable, which made the transition from soundcheck to show time easy and flawless, but it has much to offer beyond that. For one, the console’s 48-fader control surface is completely configurable, and Brad Mulligan configured it to behave like a traditional analog console. That made each engineer’s time behind the console straightforward and intuitive. But unlike any analog board, or any other digital board for that matter, the Innovason Eclipse boasts a fully-integrated multitrack recording system (dubbed M.A.R.S.). Mulligan used it to record the soundchecks so that the engineers could finalize their mixes (using playback) after soundcheck, but before show time.
The stage’s collection of microphones was truly impressive. From the Sennheiser catalog, Mulligan had e 901 kick and e 902 kick drum mics, e 904 rack-drum mics, e 906 guitar/brass mics, e 908 gooseneck condensers, and e 935 & e 965 vocal mics at his disposal. From the Neumann catalog, he had TLM 102 and TLM 103 large diaphragm condensers, KMS 105 live vocal mics, and KM 184 pencil condensers available. “It was a great opportunity to really match each instrument up with its ideal microphone,” said Mulligan.
There were a few standouts, however. “The compact and high-SPL Neumann TLM 102 was amazing,” he said. “On saxophone and drum overheads, it delivered a very warm and open sound. Other mics can make a sax take on a brittle edge, but the 102 was flat and warm. With the Sennheiser e 901 and e 902 to deploy on kick drums, it was very easy to dial in an authoritative sound that ranged anywhere between a quick wallop and a nice, pillowy thud. The Sennheiser e 609 gave me a very big, warm sound for both trumpets and guitars. And the Neumann KMS 105? What can I say about that mic? It’s already a classic, and for certain styles and singers, there’s nothing more magical than a 105. Also a standout mic was the e 908 clip-on condenser. From horn sections, to a wireless djembe for Angelique Kidjo and as tom mics, the 908s where fantastic in every application!”
In addition to some wedges and a drum sub, bands were offered Sennheiser ew 300 IEM wireless personal monitors, which proved to be a favorite. Wireless Sennheiser SKM 2000 vocal mics rounded out the main stage’s RF complement. “I’ve also used Sennheiser wireless on much larger, 100-plus channel shows without a hiccup,” said Mulligan. “We had no trouble at the main stage, despite Toronto’s considerable RF traffic, no small feat given the G20 Summit’s proximity to our venue.”
ABOUT SENNHEISER Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in sixty countries around the world through long-term distribution partners and subsidiaries in France, UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Russia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Japan, China, Canada, Mexico and the USA. Sennheiser’s technology is produced in manufacturing plants in Germany, Ireland and the United States. Their pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy and the Scientific and Engineering Award (of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). The Sennheiser Group is proud to be affiliated with Georg Neumann (world leading studio microphones), and the joint venture Sennheiser Communications that brings their award winning technology to headsets for PCs, offices and contact centers.
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PHOTO CREDIT Â©The Toronto Jazz Festival