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April 15, 2016


The 2016 event culminated in a headline performance from Graham Nash of The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame, now a successful solo artist in his own right. Nash drew crowds to the stage and seemed to really enjoy interacting with the them, reflecting on his on-stage ease.

As a sponsor of NAMM, Harman products are supplied to the entire Grand Plaza or outdoor stage area, which included all lighting requirements. Eric Friedlander, Manager of Technical Resources for Harman Tour, Audio and Cinema CSU (Customer Solutions Unit) has an intimate involvement with the event. He told TPi: “For the last three years we’ve supplied a JBL VTX V20 system and a Martin by Harman lighting package with the idea being that during the day singer/songwriters, competition winners and school bands play and then later in the night we produce shows for headliners such as Graham Nash. It’s been very cool for us, he was just incredible.

“This is quite a fun and unique set up for us because the artists are booked by NAMM, and we’re here to support what they need for their performance with our products. Some people are familiar with the brands but others will have never used them so it’s a combination of experience up there and our expertise mixing on the ground. We’re able to showcase the PA to our customers who can come outside of the convention centre and their meetings to hear the system and enjoy the constant flow of shows.

“With Graham Nash for instance, Kevin Madigan, his FOH engineer, is familiar with the V20. He often takes it out on the road with [California-based sound rental company] Sound Image for Graham’s tours.”

Madigan noted: “I’ve had a lot of experience with the VTX. We’ve toured extensively with it in a lot of different venues and I’d be happy to see it anywhere I work. JBL have done a great job with this PA; its defi nition and power are superb which makes it easy to get a great sounding mix.”

As Harman is primarily a manufacturer and not entirely set up as a sound rental company, it hires a local vendor. Friedlander continued: “One of our customers and a really good rental partner, Mastermind Production Group help out with crew and the event in general, while Harman provides all of the equipment.

“I really enjoy this part of the job. For me personally, I love mixing and I do it as often as I can. That’s why I got into this industry in the first place, for an opportunity to get behind the console and make some music.

“While NAMM is an audio-heavy and touring professional show, we still get a lot of customers who do a variety of disciplines such as integration retail, and some large format live sound installations with both lighting and audio.

“The great thing about this setting is that the audience is very discerning, it’s a mix of keen-eared sales forces, business development specialists, and older rock ‘n’ roll folks who are very serious about seeing artists like Graham Nash.”

The set up for the stage this year comprised some of Harman’s latest offerings including the VTX M20 and M22 stage monitors, something Friedlander was clearly excited about. “Our new M Series stage monitors have just been released and we’re already able to get them front of professional musicians and artists as we continue to get people used to JBL being a brand they can recognise as something they are comfortable with using from early on in their careers.”

Friedlander once again designed the stage’s audio system. There were 10 JBL VTX V20 boxes per side, six JBL VTX S25 subwoofers per side and a group of six G28 mono clusters in the middle. The subwoofers are confi gured in a cardioid pattern in order to minimise any noise upstage. To complete the system and eight JBL VT4886’s were used as front fi ll. At FOH a Soundcraft Vi7000 desk was chosen alongside a Soundcraft Realtime Rack, a UAD Powered plug-in for the Soundcraft Vi Series of live sound consoles. The monitor system comprised a Soundcraft Vi3000 console, JBL VTX M20 and M22 stage monitors, JBL CSX F35 as side fill and JBL VTX S25 subs. All amplification was via VRACK 4x3500HDs.

The microphone package is entirely AKG including D5 and D5C vocal microphones, D40’s, C451’s, C518’s, D12VRs, and C214 instrument microphones. C414XL II were utilised for audience microphones.

Chad Griswold of Mastermind Production Group told TPi: “Getting to work with new technology from Harman is an exciting place to be. This year I mixed FOH on a Soundcraft Vi7000 for the first time. Within a very short time I became very comfortable with the console, and ultimately really enjoyed mixing on the desk throughout the weekend.”

Madigan echoed this notion: “I hadn’t used the Vi7000 before NAMM but I had some brief experience with the Vi Series. It didn’t take long to get to grips with the Vi7000 at all. It sounds good and is well laid out for efficient working, which is my most basic criteria. The plug-in integration is easy to use too.”

The JBL VTX V20 system powered by Crown IT4x3500 amplifiers performed flawlessly and was not only a nice punchy sounding rig but coverage was smooth over the entire listening area. Having Harman’s Performance Manager software available to tune and time align the system and make any necessary adjustments is a great all in one solution. It makes the system easier to setup, tune and monitor throughout the event. Additionally, the new M-Series wedges on stage and the new CSX-F35 side fill boxes were awesome! These brand new products from Harman have great potential, and at Mastermind we are really looking forward to utilising them. The amount of sheer output of these new speakers and their tonal quality is amazing!

“On the lighting front, the Martin M1 console was driving a variety of proven Martin lighting fixtures as well as some new ones. We have found the M1 is user-friendly, quick to set up and easy to run. Our lighting designers liked the amount of faders it has, making it easy to grab things on the fly in a festival situation such as NAMM. We utilised 24 MAC Aura’s for all of our front light and mid and upstage washes, 14 MAC Quantum Profiles for all of our hard-edge fixtures, four brand new Atomic 3000 LED strobes, which are very bright and have a great aura effect which makes them much more versatile than your standard strobe fixture.

“We also used four new rush LED strobes for effects, and eight Rush MH4 beams on the subs downstage for some arial looks. While the beams are still a discharge lamp, all of the fixtures on the stage itself were LED-based, which is great for both power saving and heat reduction on stage. We were able to run the entire rig at 120V on a 100A 3-phase service and didn’t come close to consuming half of the available power, even with everything going full out which is quite impressive!” he added.

It’s interesting that Friendlander opted to specify the Rush fixtures in this live setting. As he explained: “These are generally a fixed install or entry level fixture, but because they’re well designed and easily integrated into the system, they were chosen to add more depth and allow for more programming options for our LD. They really held their own quite nicely when paired with the more ‘pro’ level Martin MAC fixtures.” The latter of course are often seen on arena level touring productions. He also favoured the new Atomic 3000 Strobes, which he described as “legitimately mind-blowing!”

As the sun set on the final day of NAMM, Friedlander concluded his thoughts: “I teach people about our products all the time and do training courses with them, but it is just that; training. The real world experience with musicians and engineers is the most valuable education for me, and ideally the most genuine experience for our customers too.

“Being able to be here at NAMM gives me a more complete knowledge and complete confidence in the tools that I’m using, which in turn are the tools we’re supplying to our customers and our end users. It’s been a great success for us, and we’ll be back again next year for sure!”

Griswold continued: “As we have got to know the team at Harman better it is obvious that there is a wealth of knowledge and talent there. The friendships and relationships we have created with the Harman staff through our time with them at NAMM and other events has proven invaluable. Knowing that we have a line to the people that are best suited to help us resolve any issues we come across is a great resource for our business. Furthermore, the fantastic new and innovative products are helping us expand the resources we can offer to our clients for even the most challenging of events. We enjoy being involved with Harman and look forward to being involved with more of their events in the future!”

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