Electro-Voice on the road with Eric Church and Mason Sound
Country musician Eric Church’s star has continued to rise in 2012, fueled by his first #1 album, the Grammy-nominated “Chief” (2011), and his first and second #1 singles, “Drink in My Hand” and “Springsteen”, respectively.
This year has seen Church’s live show grow in step with his increasing popularity as a recording artist, and a new partnership with tour sound providers Mason Sound (Jacksonville, Illinois) has helped Church and his crew take on the arena-sized venues he now plays.
The main system for the current tour is built around an Electro-Voice XLC 127 DVX mid-sized line-array system powered by Tour Grade TG7 amplifiers and processed via onboard RCM-26 DSP modules. A NetMax controller equipped with analog and AES-3 input cards is used as a console matrix, allowing the three band engineers on the tour (opening act, support act Brantley Gilbert, and Eric Church) to have independent inputs to the system. A PC running IRIS-Net controls and supervises the system from FOH.
The tour was originally spec’d for venues in the 5,000-7000 seat range – normal size for an XLC rig – but huge demand for tickets saw the venue capacities open up to the 10,000-15,000 range. Mason Sound added more XLC boxes to their deployment, and the compact system is comfortably handling the much larger venues usually handled by full-sized line-arrays. The largest venues on the tour are addressed by two hangs of 18 XLC for mains, supported by two out-fill arrays of 12 boxes each. The PA’s tidy footprint belies its ability to cover 15,000-seat arenas with highly intelligible audio, as FOH Engineer Brent Sparks explains:
“I’m most impressed with the rig’s ability to cover the arenas; I can hear Eric’s every breath and all the instrumentation clearly. The transfer of emotion is there, and that’s part of why the tour has caused such a buzz – it makes it worth every penny. The headroom of the TG7s is exceptional as well: the crowd volume is huge at these shows, singing along to every song – it’s a luxury problem, getting louder than the crowd!”
“We purchased our first XLC rig in 2008, starting with 36 boxes,” says Mike Mason, owner of Mason Sound. “We’ve had strong factory and technical support from EV from the beginning, and it continues to be a great, hands-on partnership and a solid business decision for us. We’ve steadily grown our EV inventory since then. We added 36 more XLC boxes for this tour, and now we have a total of 130 -- all run with TG7/RCM-26 amps and NetMax processing. This current tour has been a real proving ground for the XLC’s capabilities, and it has shown us that it can deliver excellent performance in venues usually reserved for much larger systems, which further extends the value of our investment.”
Tour Manager: Todd Bunch
FOH Engineer: Brent Sparks
Monitor Engineer: Marc Earp
A2: Ben Rigby
Owner: Mike Mason
System Engineer: Jason Hebron
PHOTOS: George Georgallis, Michael Tremain