Headliner Daniel Lanois Relies on Meyer Sound Stage System.
The Montréal International Jazz Festival returned this year for five days of shows featuring 30 artists at two outdoor stages in the Canadian city’s downtown district. Along with strict vaccination requirements, the unprecedented all-outdoor format promoted health and safety for artists and audiences alike. The outdoor staging in evening hours required careful planning and configuration of the Solotech-provided Meyer Sound reinforcement systems to assure audience excitement while limiting any impact on nearby hotels and residences.
Festival headliners for 2021, most appearing at the larger Place des Festivals stage, included Charlotte Day Wilson, Patrick Watson, Plants and Animals, and Shay Lia. Featured artist/record producer Daniel Lanois, recipient of seven GRAMMY Awards, performed with a pair of Meyer Sound UPJ-1P™ loudspeakers flanking his on-stage “electro-station” setup.
For Festival Technical Coordinator Dan Meier, Solotech’s deep inventory of Meyer Sound loudspeakers provided a flexible toolset for tailoring coverages to satisfy both audiences and sleepy nearby residents.
“We have difficult spaces to work with because we are in the Quartier des Spectacles, in the heart of the city,” he says. “We needed loudspeaker systems that are easy to configure and adapt to the situation. We need a lot of choice in our boxes so we can spread the sound where we want it, keeping the energy on the audiences and not going everywhere in the city.
“Working closely with Meyer Sound’s David Vincent and Solotech, we designed systems that focus the sound and keep everybody happy. We use cardioid subwoofer configurations and we also use CALs [Column Array Loudspeakers] as delays which allow us to steer the sound exactly where we want it. They are small, efficient, and we can aim them with precision.”
The larger system at Place des Festivals employed main arrays each with five LEO®-M and four LYON®-M per side, with six 1100-LFC™ low-frequency control elements per side in a focused gradient configuration. Fills were two each MSL-4 and CQ-1, while first delays were, per side, six MICA line array loudspeakers with three 900-LFC™ elements in gradient configuration. Second delays were a pair of CAL® 64 steerable loudspeakers.
The Parterre Symphonique stage system was anchored by twin arrays of nine LINA® loudspeakers per side, with seven gradient-configured 900-LFC elements at center. LINA and MSL-4 loudspeakers served as fills, with a pair of CAL® 32 loudspeakers as delays.
Both systems incorporated a trio of GALAXY™ 816 Network Platforms for loudspeaker processing, and MJF-210™ low-profile stage monitors provided artist foldback at both locations.
Dan Meier gives a tip of the hat to Solotech for helping the festival navigate this year’s peculiar audio complexities. “We’ve been working with them for a long time. It’s a collaboration, a close personal relationship. We can rely on them for the gear, the expertise, and the support we need to have great sound.”
From the perspective of a FOH engineer, Emmanuel Serrus was pleased with the way the systems allowed him to get his mixes up and running quickly.
“I’ve been using Meyer Sound since back with the MSL-3, right up through the LEO and LYON arrays, and they are always reliable systems. With a good systems tech I know I will get the sound I want. I can do a sound check on headphones and then, with just five minutes to check the balance and the bass, I’m ready. When I open the system and adjust a little bit, the mix is done.”
Among the festival’s headline artists, Daniel Lanois carries the most storied reputation, having produced iconic albums for — among other luminaries — U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, and Emmylou Harris. He relies on his personal set of UPJ-1P loudspeakers to accurately reproduce his trademark wash of ambient sound and rhythm, with the vocals heard through the festival’s MJF-210 stage monitors.
“The MJFs have a nice, full sound, the way we like it,” he comments. “We only put vocals in them because we’re almost acoustic volume on stage. It’s almost a throwback to the old Grateful Dead days where every member of the band got his own speaker stack.
“And for the audience we have the best sound system from Meyer Sound. I’ve been associated with these folks for a long time. It’s a personal relationship, but in the end, it comes down to the sound. And the Meyer loudspeakers never let me down.”
Senior VP of Business Development Canada Richard Lachance took the lead for Solotech in working with the festival, Meyer Sound and GerrAudio Distribution, Inc., Meyer Sound’s Canadian distributor. For GerrAudio, Dany Legendre served as principal liaison.
“This year’s festival was once again a great collaboration between the teams at L’Equipe Spectra, Solotech, and Meyer Sound,” says Legendre. “There is a rich history between all of us and this iconic Montréal event, and it is Meyer Sound’s goal to continue to contribute to the success of the festival, both for L’Equipe Spectra and the team at Solotech. By supporting these two partners in providing world class audio, we help make visiting engineers and the artists who take the stage at the Montréal Jazz Festival shine, and the audience experience the best it can be.”
Tagged by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest jazz festival, the Montréal International Jazz Festival was launched in 1980. The festival is in a rebuilding mode during the pandemic, but past festivals have drawn audience totals nearing two million over the 10 days of concerts.