Neil Diamond’s recording/monitor engineer Bernie Becker (left) with sound designer and chief engineer for live sound Stan Miller (right) at a few of the tour’s Crown racks 
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Crown MA-5000/5002VZ amplifiers loaded with USP2/CN modules utilized on world’s first totally digital tour

ELKHART, Indiana, USA - March 2002 -- Pop music icon Neil Diamond is back out on tour again with Maryland Sound Industries - this time with a sound reinforcement system boasting the world’s first all-digital signal path between its microphones and loudspeakers. One of the key components in achieving this distinction was the use of Crown’s new IQ-PIP USP2/CN CobraNet™ module.

Each of the 70 Crown Macro-Tech 5000/5002VZ house amplifiers on the tour is equipped with its own USP2/CN card. This allows digital audio signals sent from the Yamaha PM1D FOH console through a CobraNet converter and BSS ProSys PS-8810C to be fed directly into the amplifiers on Cat 5 Ethernet lines and switches. All of the processing for the production’s JBL VerTec line-array loudspeakers - including crossover, delay and EQ - is performed via the Crown modules.

Using a laptop, the PS-8810C DSP system is wirelessly called upon to compensate for differing room environments each night, leaving the Crown USP2/CN cards within the amplifiers to specifically address speaker processing. The ProSys unit further allows each of the JBL loudspeaker clusters to be grouped as single signals, and both the BSS and Crown products are controlled via Crown’s IQ for Windows software v5.0, which provides a unified interface whether adjusting an entire cluster or just one driver.

"Because our sound system this time around is entirely digital, it's dead quiet; the noise floor is extremely low," says Stanley R. Miller, Diamond's sound designer and chief engineer for live sound. "We've not had one single solitary problem with buzz or hum - something we used to spend an hour or two each day on previous tours trying to chase down. Overall, this rig sounds hands-down better than ever before, and there are a number of reasons for that, not the least of which would be Crown's new CN cards.

"I've been using Crown amplifiers on Neil's tours ever since the first DC300s were introduced back in the '60s. In my opinion, Crown amps sound better than anything else on the market, not to mention the fact that Crown has long had the finest amplifier control system available. As the first person to take the IQ System out on a major tour in the late-'80s, I'm always interested in implementing the latest technological advances, which we've once again managed to do."

Miller originally called upon Sam Helms of Manalapan, New Jersey-based Sigmet Corporation to help provide the system design. “When Stan told me over a year ago that he wanted the system for this tour to be totally digital, I had some initial concerns regarding the potential tradeoff in sonic quality; I was worried that it might be a bit tinny or brittle,” Helms recalls. “But when we finally pieced the primary components together and first fired it up at MSI, we were all absolutely floored at the difference. The Crown USP2/CN module really showed off the attributes of the JBL VerTec loudspeaker. The vocals came right out of the box and the instrumentation seemed to be separated within the cabinet. There was hardly even any need for EQ. Then we A/B-ed it with an equivalent analog setup using a Crown USP2, which is an exceptional tool in its own right, and the difference was night and day. The detail we had achieved by going the all-digital route with the CN module was breathtaking.”

The first leg of Neil Diamond’s current world tour ran from late last September through the end of 2001. Now he and his entourage are spending the next few months performing at additional arenas around the United States and are planning to take the production to the UK and Europe beginning in July. MSI has been contracted to provide sound reinforcement using the current SR system -including the Crown gear - on all of the overseas dates as well.

Crown International, a Harman International company, manufactures amplifiers, microphones and systems control products for professional audio markets worldwide, with corporate headquarters located in Elkhart, Indiana.

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March 2002