by Alex Zavistovich
Call it a country music tradition. For years, Warner Brothers Records has hosted the “Super Faces” show, preceding Nashville’s annual Country Radio Seminar. The show provides Warner the opportunity to showcase some of their top country talent to radio station owners, programmers, and disk jockeys.
The High Degree of audience sophistication at the event calls for an experienced touring company, a need met by Nashville based Allstar Audio Systems. A veteran of the past four Warner shows, Allstar came this year armed with a full compliment of gear, including a new set of Midas mixing consoles.
The 1995 show, held recently at the Grand Old Opry House, featured Russ Taft, David Ball, Victoria Shaw, Little Texas, with a finale by Travis Tritt. Each supporting act played a set of about 20 minutes; Tritt’s closing set lasted an hour. Only five minutes was allowed between sets, with the show running a crisp three-hour pace.
Rock and Road
Load-in began at 08:00 the day prior to the show, with Tritt’s own monitor system,
supplied by Rock and Road Audio of Atlanta, arriving later in the afternoon. Allstar was able to save a lot of set-up/strike time with custom monitor system racks equipped with single multipin inputs and outputs for quick patching.
Each rack is capable of handling four mixes, containing four Klark-Teknik DN360 1/3rd-octave EQ’s, four channels of Brooke-Siren bi-amped crossovers, and four channels of amps — Crest 8001’s for bass and Carver 2.0’s for horns. Monitor console was a Ramsa 840 in a 40 X 18 configuration, allowing Allstar to provide 16 separate monitor mixes for the four opening acts.
Three different EAW monitor wedges were used: SM222’s (two 12-in cones with a 2-in horn), SM-200’s (single 12-in cone with a 2-in horn), all biamped. For sidefills, Borne used EAW JF-500’s loaded with a single 15-in woofer, single 10-in midrange, and a 1-in horn.
On stage for Tritt, Rock and Road Audio provided Lead guitar and bass with proprietary monitors loaded with 2 12-in’s and a single 2-in horn, with drum fill provided by proprietary twin 15-in cabinets with a 2-in horn. Tritt used Future Sonics in ear monitors.
Photo # 1: Big Midas FOH
Photo # 2: An Allstar Rig for a Legendary House
All photos taken by Ed Rode
This monitor rig was powered by QSC 3500 amps, with processing courtesy of Brooke-Siren FCS-960 1/3-octave EQ’s, Aphex Dominators and Yamaha SPX-90 effects processors. A Soundcraft Series 4 console in a 40 X 16 configuration provided 12 monitor mixes.
The main system featured Allstar’s EAW KF-850 concert loudspeakers flown stage left and right, 12 per side. EAW SB-850 subs, six per side, were stacked on the floor, with four EAW KF-300’s positioned around the front of the stage for front fill. More than 40,000 watts of house system power were supplied by Crest 8001’s
While the Opry House has a new house system made up of custom JBL systems, Allstar President Mike Borne chose to go with his own EAW largley do to familiarity.”We’re commissioned to do the best job for Warner Brothers,” he noted.
“As a result, we use gear with which we’re most comfortable, leaving nothing to chance.”
Allstar also used part of the house system, sending a feed to the delay loudspeakers covering the upper portion of the balcony. These new custom three-way delays feature one of JBL’s first forays into 10-inch cone-loaded midrange horns. A feed was also sent to ceiling speakers ih restrooms, dressing rooms, etc.
Photo # 3: Another Allstar Audio FX Rack
Photo # 4: Stage Lit with work crews
Three Midas consoles were used for house mix, all in a line at a special mix position set up at the back of the first floor. A Midas XL3-48, with eight stereo and 32 mono inputs, was exclusively for Tritt, whille a Midas XL3 24-channel extender was shared by Tritt and the supporting acts. The extender handled the effects returns, DAT returns, CD player, “Voice of God” mics and DJ’s.. A Midas XL3-40 handled primary mix duties for the four supporting acts.
“It was pretty impressive looking. There must have been 20 feet of console,” noted Borne. “We’re fairly new to Midas products and have been nothing but impressed. from a performance standpoint, the preamp, EQ, and headroom of the XL3 are phenomenal. We’ve also recieved excellent support from the company.”
He added that with the XL3’s offered plenty of routing flexibility, with 16 group sends, Eight were used for effects, four for front fill, with the remaining four used as needed.
Sum and Matrix
All outputs were summed to a Midas XL-88 X 8 rack mounted matrix mixer, with separate matrixes for house left and right, front fill, and delays. Feeds were also provided for press and recording.
House EQ was handled by two Klark-Teknik DN3600A digital programmable 1/3-octave equalizers, also a relatively new addition to the Allstar stable. “The DN3600A really opened up the sound and made the high end more transparent,” Borne said. He also gives it high marks for convenience.
Allstar programmed and locked in their “standard” Opry House settings, which each acts engineer could use as a building block for their own tailored mix, which could also be saved and recalled instantly.
A pair of dbx 160XD’s provided the house system compression, with cross over and limiting via an EAW MX-8001. Each console had it’s own Yamaha REV-7, SPX-90, Lexicon PCM-70, and LXP-15, along with eight channels of Brooke-Siren or dbx compression and Brooke-Siren or Drawmer gates.
The five-minute set changes presented one of the biggest challenges. Wile the acts shared a good deal of the equipment, there were three different drum kits and configurations.
For quick drum micing changes, Allstar used custom satellite boxes with 12-channel multipins channeled down to a single multipin that could be patched into subsnakes feeding the system.
All the careful preparation paid off, with the show running right on schedule and with exceptional sound quality. Borne stressed that a good deal of the credit goes to his crew, which included house tech John Dauphinee, monitor engineer George Argeropoulos, and stage techs Erich Turner, John Johnson and Jeff Schmidt.
With things running smoothly, Borne was able to take time to view the show from the audience perspective, noting that he was impressed in particular with Russ Taft, a contemporary Christian artist crossing over to the country market.
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