ELKHART, Indiana — Nestled in the heart of the Minnesota Zoo, the Wessner Family Amphitheater hosted the Subway Music in the Zoo 2013 Concert Series in an idyllic setting that was named “The Best Outdoor Concert Venue” byMpls.St.Paul Magazine. This year’s series hosted over 30 national recording artists including Lyle Lovett, Brian Wilson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Willie Nelson, Carly Rae Jepsen and many more, with sound reinforcement provided by Minneapolis-based Farber Sound consisting of HARMAN Crown VRack amplifiers and a JBL VERTEC®line array system.
Farber Sound (www.farbersound.com), utilizing a venue designed for a daily bird show at the zoo, provided sound and lighting for the 1,340-capacity venue and its 32-foot-wide by 24-foot-deep open-air stage. In two hours’ setup time, the production crew was able to transform the space into a first-class performance venue. The stage was surrounded by a framework of four columns at the corners with overhead roof trusses to hold the lighting, and covered by a tent-shaped awning. The stage is at ground level and the seating is arranged around it in a quarter-round tiered configuration.
Two columns of four JBL VERTEC VT4888 midsize line array elements were deployed as the main left and right ground stacks, complemented by two ground stacks of four VERTEC VT4886 subcompact line array elements for left and right outfill. Two VT4886 loudspeakers were mounted on the roof trusses to provide downfill, and four VTX G28 subwoofers were placed equidistantly on the ground along the side of the stage. Twelve JBL SRX712M loudspeakers were used as powered stage monitors, along with a JBL VRX918S subwoofer for the drum monitor mix powered by Crown I-Tech amplifiers.
Power to all VERTEC elements was delivered courtesy of two Crown VRack 4×3500 HD racks, each including three I-Tech 4×3500 HD 4-channel amplifiers. One Crown VRack 12000 HD rack provided amplification to the VTX G28 subwoofers. VRack is a complete, transportable amplifier solution that includes Crown I-Tech HD Series power amps, analog and digital connections and a universal power distribution system, housed in a wheeled rack with a suspension system that enables VRacks to be flown.
Farber Sound owner Dave Farber and his crew ground-stacked the left and right VERTEC arrays because the stage framework wasn’t tall enough for them to be hung without blocking the audience’s view or getting in the way of the performers. Farber used HARMAN’s HiQnet System Architect™ software to configure and control the system from front of house, and took advantage of JBL’s VERTEC V5 preset tunings to precisely tailor the output of the Crown amplifiers to the loudspeakers.
“Under the right circumstances VERTEC line arrays can work just as well on the ground as in a flown stack,” Farber said. “In the Wessner Amphitheater the stage is right at ground level and the seats are relatively close, so we placed the ground stacks on 6-foot platforms, and in combination with the flown downfill speakers this worked really well. Another advantage is that the VTX G28 subwoofers are specifically designed to be placed on the ground.”
In fact, Farber found the VERTEC loudspeakers provided such even coverage and volume and clarity that it wasn’t necessary to use any additional fill loudspeakers in the seating area itself. “We were able to use a relatively modest number of VERTEC’s and the sound was absolutely stellar,” Farber concluded. “They delivered everything we needed and then some.”
HARMAN designs, manufactures, and markets a wide range of infotainment and audio solutions for the automotive, consumer, and professional markets. It is a recognized world leader across its customer segments with premium brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, and Mark Levinson® and leading-edge connectivity, safety and audio technologies. The Company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of 14,800 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $4.7 billion for the last twelve months ended December 31, 2013.