The Grateful Dead’s legacy intertwines with Meyer Sound systems

Folsom Field, Boulder, CO Photo: Jay Blakesberg

Dead & Company Final Tour was again accompanied by a Meyer Sound reinforcement system, provided by UltraSound and for the second year, the core of the system was powered by Meyer Sound PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeakers.

As with last year’s tour, the PANTHER-based system adapted to a mix of large venues, each venue type required significant adaptations of the base system. Tour Director/FOH Engineer for Dead & Company, Derek Featherstone noted: “The audio delay towers are limited in total weight capacity, but with PANTHER we were able to hang more cabinets out there for better coverage in the back rows of stadiums.”

The main system for stadium shows comprised four main PANTHER arrays two front and two side each with 14 PANTHER-L long-throw loudspeakers and 4 PANTHER-W wide coverage loudspeakers.

“This year, we made a change and split the main and side hangs,” explained Featherstone. “In the past, we would keep them relatively close together, but this time we put them offstage of the video wall. This gave us a more consistent level across the floor. Also, we added a six-box LEO® array offstage of the side hangs in order to get better coverage in the far extent of stadiums.”

Deep bass power was propelled by dual, flown end-fire arrays of 11 split five and six 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements. On the ground were nine 700‑HP subwoofers and ten LYON -W loudspeakers for front fill. Delay towers for stadium shows were loaded with either PANTHER or LYON loudspeakers, drawn from UltraSound’s own inventory on the West Coast or cross-rented from DBS Audio for East Coast shows. The band’s fold back system included eight MJF‑210 stage monitor loudspeakers plus two each MJF-212 monitors, 1100‑LFC elements, JM-1P, and UPJ-1P loudspeakers.

Featherstone shares credit for audience satisfaction with the entire UltraSound crew: System Engineer Michal Kacunel, Monitor Engineers Lonnie Quinn and Ian Dubois, Monitor Tech Reilly Williamson, PA Techs Sean McAdam and Riley Gajewski, and Delay Tech Erik Swanson. The audio recording tech was Ross Harris. “All of these people kept pushing to make the band sound better and better,” commented Featherstone. “The band welcomed this, of course, and in my case, I really appreciate working with a client that genuinely values high-end audio and supports our advancements in that department.”

The Grateful Dead and subsequent iterations of the original band are connected to UltraSound and Meyer Sound in a relationship in the industry. “Meyer Sound always has listened closely to the needs of the touring band, as well as the packaging and durability needs of UltraSound,” commented Featherstone. “The equipment has to sound great yet also reliably withstand the rigors of the road. For years, UltraSound has been in the middle of this product development relationship, and Meyer Sound always has been good about addressing any items that would benefit from improvement.”

Company founders John and Helen Meyer, who attended the final shows in San Francisco, celebrated their past relationships but also looked forward to new possibilities. “This final tour closes an important chapter in the story of the Dead in its many forms,” Helen concluded.