Thunder Audio recently deployed a large-scale JBL by HARMAN VTX Series system at Lollapalooza 2016 to power a diverse lineup of high profile artists at the festival’s Bud Light stage, including Ellie Goulding, Major Lazer, Lana Del Ray, The 1975, Future, Disclosure, HAIM and many more. Thunder Audio used the JBL VTX system at Lollapalooza 2015, and selected the system once again for its smooth frequency response, powerful output and ease of deployment. The VTX system’s clear and transparent sound quality was especially important, and enabled Thunder Audio to accommodate a wide range of sonic requirements.
“We always set up the system as flat as possible out of the box without a lot of processing or equalization—the system already sounds great with the JBL voicings,” said Greg Snyder, Vice President of Sales at Thunder Audio. “We’re handing the FOH engineers a very flat and neutral system that works well for any type of music, so they don’t have to do a lot of work to get the sound they want for their artist. This makes it much easier to meet the artists’ expectations and everyone had a great time using it.”
The system Thunder Audio deployed included two main arrays of 18 x VTX V25-II, two arrays of 8 x VTX V25-II for outfills, 8 x S28 subwoofers flown per side, and 30 x S28 on the ground deployed in 10 clusters of 3. The entire system was powered by 72 Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers and Thunder Audio used JBL HiQnet Performance Manager 2.0 software to configure, optimize and monitor the entire system.
“When we built the system, we chose to use Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers for the power,” said Snyder. “There’s so much power on reserve, and we get clarity out of the full spectrum of the system, whether it be low, mids, highs or subwoofers. If a dynamic drum roll or a downbeat occurs, the power is always there and it’s always clean. Last year, we updated our VTX system with new waveguides that made the high frequency even more spectacular and crystal clear. And with the development of Performance Manager 2.0 software and how far it’s come, the entire system is bulletproof.”
As with last year’s festival, the Thunder Audio team faced some significant challenges during deployment. The site received lots of rain in the week before the festival and the area in front of the stage retained a lot of water. Thunder Audio needed to get the system up quickly to avoid tearing up the ground.
“We had to make sure the audience could enjoy where they were standing without getting stuck in the mud, so we needed to build the system quickly while still maintaining the site,” said Snyder. “VTX is one of the most user-friendly systems to deploy, since it can easily be flown standing up or laying on its face. Deployment was very quick and within a couple hours we had all the main clusters and out fills up. Then all we had to do was fork down our subwoofers, which we placed on pallets to keep them out of the mud.”
The artists performing at the Bud Light stage had drastically different sonic qualities—from intense and bass-heavy electronic sounds to rock and roll to modern pop. As an early adopter of the VTX Series, Thunder Audio and was initially drawn to the system for its versatility and its ability to produce excellent results with any type of music.
“With today’s digital consoles and very diverse frequency requirements, it’s important to have a PA that can accurately reproduce the sounds going in to the system,” said Snyder. “With VTX, the sound that comes from the system is record quality. We heard Major Lazer, Ellie Goulding and all of the acts as they’re truly supposed to sound. Even with 40,000 people in front of the PA, the system still sounds great and gives the artists exactly what they’re looking for. In the end, we’re trying to make everyone’s job easier. VTX is a dynamic product and it becomes one with the artist that’s performing.”