Staged over three weekend nights in late September, the ninth edition of Life is Beautiful Festival occupied no less than 18 blocks of downtown Sin City to accommodate non-stop revelry by crowds estimated at up to 150,000. The main musical attractions were at the Downtown and Bacardí stages, both equipped with Meyer Sound systems provided by Solotech.
At the Downtown Stage, where headliners like Calvin Harris, Gorillaz, Jack Harlow, and Arctic Monkeys pumped up the night, the party-level sound was powered by a PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeaker system.
“We all recognised that the close ties between Meyer Sound and Life is Beautiful presented a perfect opportunity to introduce FOH engineers, touring production people, and music fans to the new PANTHER system,” said Jim Yakabuski, veteran FOH Engineer (Van Halen, Journey, Gwen Stefani) who now doubles as Director of Audio Projects for Solotech US.
“Again this year, Solotech’s hard‑working teams have collaborated with Life is Beautiful on various stages. It was a pleasure to work with our partner Meyer Sound, whose PANTHER system delivered clear, pristine and punchy sound, with very fast attack transients on instruments like kick drum and bass guitar and beautifully timed and dispersed transition to the 1100-LFC subs for even coverage.”
In physical mass, the PANTHER system was hardly the largest ever assembled to excite six-figure audiences, and that was an initial concern for FOH Engineer, Paul Valette, who mixed the set by Sylvan Esso. “When I first saw the speaker hang, I thought there was no way this would be sufficient power for the size of the stage,” he recalls. “Wow, was I ever wrong! It was also one of the smoothest, most musical PAs I’ve ever mixed on.”
The main arrays for the system comprised 16 per side PANTHER line array loudspeakers (12 with long-throw L horn and four with the wide W horn), augmented on each side by eight LYON line array loudspeakers. Deep bass was carried by flown arrays of six per side 1100-LFC with the same numbers on the ground in an end-fire configuration. Extreme bass transitioned into subsonic impact with sixteen of Meyer Sound’s VLFC very low frequency control elements, with response down to 13 Hz.
Rounding out the Downtown Stage system were eight LEOPARD compact line array loudspeakers as front fills, dual delay towers with eight LYON loudspeakers each, and six Galileo GALAXY 816 Network Platforms for drive and optimisation, all networked via the Milan AVB protocol.
“I thought the Panther rig sounded epic,” commented Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Sargeant, FOH mixer for Calvin Harris and also known for mixing Avicii for much of his career. “It was phase coherent right up in your face. It didn’t sound 50 or 60 metres away. The vocal clarity was fantastic.”
One challenge for mixing Harris, he says, is getting “definition in the bottom, and enough of it.” However, the PANTHER system delivered with a low end that was “fully controlled and with headroom for days, and that had an impact on Calvin’s set. It was a monster. I really enjoyed mixing it.”
At the Bacardí Stage, the main arrays were LEO and LYON line array loudspeakers, buttressed on the sides by systems comprising MICA line array loudspeakers along with MSL-4 and CQ-2 point source loudspeakers. Front fills also were MICA loudspeakers, with 1100-LFC elements for both flown and ground low-frequency support. Headliners at the Bacardí Stage included Shaggy, Kygo, Beach House, and Dermot Kennedy.
Meyer Sound Senior Technical Support Specialist David Vincent was tasked with the design for both systems, working in close consultation with Solotech system engineer Alex Ginchereau at the Downtown Stage and freelance SE Alex Pritchard at the Bacardí stage. Mike Bradley, Solotech’s Project Manager out of the Nashville office, and the entire Solotech team made sure all the parts fit together and functioned smoothly.
Meyer Sound’s proprietary LMBC (low-mid beam control) was implemented at both stages to assure uniform front-to-back spectral balance. At the Downtown Stage, precise tuning for speed of system deployment was enhanced by the fact that all loudspeakers in the system shared the same PC63 “phase family” as the PANTHER loudspeakers, indicating all the self-powered loudspeakers are naturally phase compatible without needing to implement any product integration settings.