Tipper and Red Rocks are a match made in electronic heaven – a place where the monolithic meets dimension and fidelity. The enigmatic, spotlight-shirking producer first played the 9,500-capacity venue in 2015. In the days that followed, glowing words flowed onto pages, photos and videos incapable of capturing the real-life magic flooded the internet, and everyone agreed that this performance, in which music, art and sound design came together to form a mesmerising bundle of ‘wow’, was very special indeed. Last month, Tipper returned to Red Rocks for two consecutive nights, armed with a new sound experience for the famous venue, delivered by Funktion-One Vero.
The figure at the heart of this delivery was Sound Engineer, Ron Lorman of Busy Puppy Productions, who has worked with a host of celebrated artists, including Miles Davis, Paul Simon and Frank Zappa, in his 40-plus years audio career. As well as spec’ing the sound system, Lorman oversaw all audio requirements for what turned out to be two stunning shows.
Speaking afterwards, he enthused: “I’m extremely pleased. The goal was to achieve a level of unique audio presentation and raise the bar of audio capabilities. The pleasure came from the reaction of the audience and fans, who seemingly recognised they heard a very special event, both from Tipper, all the performing artists and the audio impact.”
Unsurprisingly, a lot of work goes into reaching this level. Lorman and Joe Adkins – owner of One Source Productions – were commissioned by Dave Veler, the show’s producer, to execute nothing short of sonic excellence. The pair have worked together with Tipper since 2015. Funktion-One Founder, Tony Andrews was on the line from the UK at various stages to discuss iterations to the system design.
“Every detail was taken into consideration to ensure the best possible audio delivery” said Lorman. “From Vero placement and aiming, to subwoofer deployment, the venue’s new roof structure, handpicked staff, gear selection, and seven evil rain events during setup day!”
One Source’s Joe Adkins commented: “We were thrilled to once again have the chance to deploy the Vero rig at Red Rocks with Tipper. A lot of work and consideration went into the design, deployment, and crew selection. We’ve done many events with the Vero system and this was by far our favourite deployment. Red Rocks is not an easy venue to cover, and we were able to achieve a high level of audio quality throughout the entire venue. Saying we were happy with Vero is an understatement.”
The system was assembled and prepped at Awaken the Night, located nearby in Denver, overseen by owner, Jimi Lee, and his team. Lorman brought in Andrew Davidson as System Tech, Tom Van Beek for monitors, Rob Hendry of One Source provided rigging and system support, leaving Will Bears on good vibes and moral support.
Red Rocks is a fascinating venue. With the flanking rock walls, a 300ft throw requirement and an 18° seating incline, it presents some challenges to delivering even coverage, uniform frequency magnitude and focused propagation timing. Lorman said: “With Red Rocks’ unique load in, with truck staging and FOH gear going on a sled to the mix position, the Red Rocks crew is nothing short of spectacular, efficient, helpful, gracious and hard working. The Vero rig was easily hung with no issues and the entire system was deployed 100% as modelled.”
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The system featured 15 Vero enclosures per side, 24 F124s, 12 F218s and four Evo 7s for front fills. Lab.gruppen PLM 20k amps powered the main Vero hangs, with FFA amps on the subs and Lake processing throughout.
“Our mission was to deliver an even better performance than the Red Rocks event in 2015,” stated Lorman. “I requested three extra cabinets per side from last time. The F124s provided awesome low end from the front row to the top of the venue – a football field away.”
House and city ordinance enforce strict SPL management at Red Rocks, with maximum limits set at 106dBA and 119dBZ. Lorman explained: “The show sounded amazingly full with impact, while I maintained an average of 103 dba and 115 dbz. Both are measured at the FOH position in peak and on a one-minute LEQ. I managed to hit 118.5 three times, which definitely kept our attention. Riding faders, high-pass filter and shelving were all employed at various times to stay within the house dB limits, making it a bit like audio Whac-A-Mole at times. On a technical note, we averaged 6db+ of headroom in the amps during the entire event.”
System Technician, Andrew Davidson noted: “The speed of the system was beyond anything I had ever heard on this scale. The system is fully horn loaded and there was no resonance hiding any detail. The F124s made the air around you alive and it surrounded you. The image that Vero creates is huge and hangs in the air between you and the speaker. This brings the music closer and allows for a better connection to the artist. The show felt louder than I was used to when I have line arrays at Red Rocks. With the Vero’s decay speed, the house LEQ meter seemed to not meter as high, but the system sounded far louder than usual”.
At FOH, Lorman worked on a Cadac CDC6 show system comprising a CDC6, 6448 IO, Dante bridge with onboard Waves capabilities. Console Inputs were delivered in both analogue and digital via Dante, with all outputs in Dante running at 96khz. According to the seasoned pro: “The audio quality of the Cadac has no match. It’s like having studio-quality converters on every I/O. The preamps, EQ sections and compressor are the smoothest and most musical I have ever encountered in an audio console.”
While impressed with the tech, the audio team and their collective talents remain number one in Lorman’s book. “Technology will always change and, at times, make meaningful improvements. At the end of day, it is the team’s collective efforts and experience that manipulate and maximise the performance of any system.”
Funktion-One’s Tony Andrews and Lorman have known one another since around 1980. “That long – ouch!” joked Lorman. In his view, Vero and Evo represent the collected knowledge and experience over an extended period. “Vero is capable of delivering a staggering amount of sonic impact and clarity, with unprecedented attack and decay speed, all while maintaining well organised audio integrity with extremely low distortion. The entire audio spectrum delivered by Vero is capable of a level of extreme detail, massive power and non-fatiguing presentation. Extreme amounts of fun to listen to and for extended periods of time.”
For Lorman, there is no comparison to other systems. “Vero is the sole occupant in its own category. It is the only system capable of this level of audio. Vero takes total advantage of the summation of paying attention to every portion of the frequency range, which incorporates very hi-efficient, well dampened, non-resonant and musically balanced frequency response.”
This article originally appeared in issue #265 of TPi, which you can read here.