Billy Strings is on the current leg of his 2023 amphitheater and arena tour, Strings is enveloping through a system based on Meyer Sound PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeakers. As with all recent tours, the system supplier on this outing is Nashville, Tennessee-based Major Tom US.
The advantages of the latest Meyer Sound technologies were acknowledged by Charlie Bryson, who doubles as tour production manager and monitor engineer.
“In June we transitioned from the LEO and LYON system we had for the first part of the tour to the new PANTHER rig and it’s working out great on all fronts,” he reported. “Andy [Lytle], our FOH engineer, mixed on PANTHER at last year’s Peach Festival, and he loved it straight off the bat. Bluegrass is midrange-heavy by nature, which can be challenging with some systems, but with PANTHER the subtle tonal qualities of the instruments easily shine through. It doesn’t color the sound in any way.”
“The main stage was under a tent enclosure, and that can make it really hard to mix instruments like banjo. But I immediately noticed how clean and clear the instruments sounded. Everything was distinct — never washy but cutting through cleanly,” Lytle continued.
Lytle has been impressed with PANTHER’s uniformity of coverage. “I walk up to the top levels and far corners, and the coverage has been awesome. Our systems tech, Jimmy Marsh, says it’s easy to get everything dialed in just right, which then makes it easier for me.”
In a typical arena configuration, the dual main arrays of 12-each PANTHER line array loudspeakers are bolstered on the low end by 12 1100-LFC™ low-frequency control elements. Additionally, PANTHER loudspeakers are used as side hangs.
Putting on his production manager’s cap, Charlie Bryson appreciated the logistical advantages of the new PANTHER-based system. “Overall, the system is much smaller and lighter,” he observed. “The truck space for loudspeakers is close to half of what we needed before, and of course, the weight is drastically reduced. We are out on tour almost constantly, so the incremental savings on fuel consumption add up and make a significant difference. Also, it’s easier to rig in some challenging rooms, like the older large theatres with structural weight limits. With PANTHER, we can hang more boxes for better overall room coverage.”
The newly inaugurated complete Milan AVB connection incorporates primary and secondary networks using Luminex Gigacore 30i switches linked via Opticore trunk lines.
“The Milan network gives us easy control and information access to and from each box,” commented Jimmy Marsh, the tour systems engineer. “And our cable looms are smaller while still having individual box tunings. Also, we are doing a wide range of venues over the year, so not being locked into a fixed number of zones per array really gives us more flexibility in array sizes.”
“I remember in the earlier days when we did one-offs with Meyer Sound it sounded so good,” Lytle recalled, “so it just made sense to continue. Every extended tour at this level has been with Meyer, and recently all from Major Tom US. They have been great not just with the Meyer rigs but the complete packages with console and other front-end gear.”
Bill Orner, Billy Strings’ manager, concurred. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Meyer Sound, Major Tom, and our amazing crew. It’s not every day that manufacturers, vendors, and crew align in such a beneficial way. The shows have never sounded better. It’s like it was all meant to be.”
Billy Strings’ 2023 tour schedule extends through New Year’s Eve, with the final three shows at the Uno Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. In November, the tour jumps the Atlantic for 11 shows in Europe and the UK.