August 23rd, 2019 – Escondido, Ca. When Meeting Services, Inc. (MSI) won the bid to provide full production services for the San Diego County Fair, Production Account Manager, Birch Caffee, immediately spotted an opportunity to take the VUE al-12 Acoustic Linearity Line Array for a spin. Running for a full five weeks from May into July 4th weekend, the fair’s 27 shows featured a broad mix of artists and genres, including Dionne Warwick, Jake Owen, Toby Keith, Pitbull, and Smokey Robinson, to name just a few.
“I’ve been doing production in southern California for nearly 20 years, and I can’t recall hearing near as much positive buzz around a new PA as there is with VUE,” said Caffee. “I attended a VUE demo last year and was impressed with their design, their technology, and design philosophy. From performance to packaging, the VUE team clearly understands real-world challenges.”
For the San Diego Fair, MSI joined forces with VUE rental partner, Harmony Event Productions, who maintains a sizeable al-Class inventory to support their Southern California requirements
“Adding the VUE line array has been great for our business,” said Shawn Ellis, President at Harmony Events Services. “The al-12 is an easy sell, thanks to its association with acts like Kendrick Lamar and Janet Jackson. Plus, VUE’s performance is much better than most systems in our inventory. It’s a real money maker.”
The Del Mar Fair Grounds presented some unique acoustic challenges for the MSI team. The main performance area was located on a race track, with the stage at ground level facing steep grandstand seating. A tall brick wall was located about 80-feet from the stage area between the first row of the grandstand and floor. Depending on the show, the floor was either standing room or ground seating.
“The wall into the grandstand was quite tall, so the system needed to deliver good coverage control to avoid slap-back,” explained Caffee. “I worked up a basic design using left and right al-12 arrays, along with two flown al-12SB subwoofer arrays. Flying the subs would make it easier for us to control LF dispersion and avoid the wall.”
VUE’s Shawn London worked with the MSI team to build out an Ease Focus model to optimize array angles and verify MSI’s design. After a few minor tweaks, the configuration was set, and the truck was loaded.
The final design consisted of left and right al-12 arrays comprised of 14 acoustic elements each. Low frequency was delivered by left and right flown subwoofer arrays containing eight al-12 SB elements each. Additional low-frequency support came courtesy of ten hs-221 dual 21-inch ACM subwoofers positioned on risers directly below front of the stage. For near-fill, MSI deployed six h-208 dual 8-inch systems across the stage lip. A selection of hm-Class monitors helped keep the bands in sync.
Rack-mount VUEDrive systems engines provided power, DSP and networking capabilities for the flown al-12 and al-12SB arrays, while on-board VUEDrive electronics did the same for the hs-221 subs and h-208 front fill systems. SystemVUE software allowed easy setup and monitoring of the entire VUE ecosystem.
“The al-12’s sounded terrific, especially at the top end. VUE’s commitment to the beryllium drivers really pays off up there. When you stand in the house and listen to a mix, there is a remarkable clarity that isn’t there in the vast majority of systems. Numerous engineers commented on it.”
Caffee continued, “The VUE subs were equally impressive. The flown arrays delivered ample energy and a lot of control. It was surprisingly easy to avoid the wall altogether. In fact, the flown subs were so good that we kept the ground-stacked hs-221s relatively low for most shows. But when needed, those dual 21-inch cabinets moved a lot of air. This was especially good with PitBull and other artists that needed a lot of low end. We had plenty, with more to spare.”
With 27 successful shows wrapped, Caffee and the MSI team couldn’t be happier with their VUE experience. “The system never missed a beat. No matter what we throw at it. Even when leaning hard into it, the system always had more to give, and the fidelity was never compromised. The whole VUE solution definitely lived up to its reputation.”