“Everyone has loved it,” he reports. “I’ve heard some say it’s the best system they’ve heard on the tour, and others say it’s like working on near-field monitors. Words like ‘transparent’ and ‘three-dimensional’ come up, and some engineers have told me they are using less EQ and compression on their channel strips.”
The sonic improvements did not come without challenges, however. The wide-open views and riverside ambiance pose acoustic difficulties because HHA is located in the heart of Bend’s Old Mill District, a thriving commercial and residential development. Unlike other similar venues with stages facing natural hillsides, the HHA occupies an essentially flat space with only a minimal construction-graded slope of about 2%. And the adjacent river’s scenic value is offset by a tendency to reflect mid-high frequencies.
“The layout and topography of the venue make it difficult to contain the sound within the venue boundaries,” says Hare. “I had worked with their production manager, Mike Taylor, at the Northwest String Summit and other regional festivals, and he knew I had addressed these issues at a similar venue in Washington. So, he asked me to propose a new solution.”
Taylor was confident the new PANTHER-based system would provide powerful, high-quality sound, but he also needed to convince management that the sound bleed into adjacent neighborhoods could be significantly attenuated.
“We really needed to dial in a much tighter pattern,” he says. “Meyer Sound had the technology and the team to make it happen.”
Coordinating through Meyer Sound Director of Strategic Applications Michael Maxson, Hare worked with Meyer Sound Senior Technical Support Specialist David Vincent to plot system coverage in MAPP™ 3D with the goal of maintaining full-bandwidth uniformity inside the fence, then dropping off steeply. “They nailed it,” Taylor says. “Now the system does exactly what we expect it to do.”
The system comprises 12 per side arrays of PANTHER loudspeakers, with ten PANTHER-M™ cabinets over two PANTHER-W™ cabinets. Bass power comes from 12 1100-LFC™ low-frequency control elements arranged in cardioid configurations, while six ULTRA-X40™ compact loudspeakers supply front fill and two Galileo® GALAXY Network Platforms contribute to system drive and optimization. Ten MJF-210™ high-power stage monitors are available for artist foldback.
For visiting engineers who love analog, and for his own use when mixing opening acts, Curt Hare keeps his vintage Gamble EX56 parked at HHA for the season.
With artist satisfaction, audience excitement, and community relations all on the upswing, the move to a new PANTHER-based system has proven to be a wise one. “I was confident from the outset,” says Hare, “but we did a demo session back in May to show what we could do. Management was a bit surprised that there was so much engineering and scientific data available to deal with the noise issues, as little was seen from the previous vendor.”
The change was particularly welcome for Hayden Homes Amphitheater General Manager Marney Smith. “Community relations is a massive part of the equation here at HHA,” she says. “Curt’s efforts, combined with the Meyer rig, have made it possible to provide visual ‘heat maps’ of how the sound travels and make adjustments. The reduced sound transfer into surrounding neighborhoods is noticeable.”
The recognition among touring artists also has been gratifying, she adds. “I’m not the one who lets the tours know our house rig is now PANTHER, but I’ve listened in when our production manager relays the news. It’s delightful. Offering a top-line rig adds credibility to our venue and lets artists know they can expect excellence in all aspects of production when they come to visit us.”
Some other acts benefiting from the system upgrade at HHA this year include Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Los Lobos, Indigo Girls, Cake, and Counting Crows.
Hayden Homes Amphitheater is owned by the Old Mill District with the summer season concert series booked and managed by Live Nation.
About Meyer Sound
Founded by John and Helen Meyer in 1979, Meyer Sound is a global leader in providing integrated solutions for sound reinforcement, spatial sound, acoustic systems, studio monitoring and high-end residential systems. Recognized as an audio technology pioneer, Meyer Sound was the first to introduce dedicated loudspeaker processors, source independent measurement, large-scale self-powered loudspeakers, and cardioid subwoofers, among other innovations. The premium professional brand maintains rigorous quality control in its design and manufacturing of sustainable solutions for concert touring and festivals, houses of worship, cinema, education, corporate offices and residential. Scientific research and innovative product development have earned more than 100 US and international patents along with numerous industry awards. Headquartered in Berkeley, California with operations globally, Meyer Sound is a company where employees are innovators and diversity, equity and inclusion are embraced in the workplace and the community.