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30 l August 2012

livereport FRANCE

Lenny Kravitz is at home with JBL VTX

The New Yorker-cum-Parisienne rocker may have two decades worth of hits to choose from, but he stays on the cutting edge with the European tour debut of the JBL VTX line array. Paul Watsonjoined the rock ’n’ roll circus at the Bercy

IT’S QUITE an undertaking for any established international touring act to take on a new PA system at the 11th hour – but perhaps more so for one responsible for audio on a Lenny Kravitz tour. As well as being a renowned multi- instrumentalist who has for years produced much of his own material, Kravitz, it seems, is also meticulous when it comes to his live set-up. According to system tech John Leary, the star will more often than not wander up to FOH position to check things out. The PA system, then, is pretty darned important. “Lenny always wants to

know two things: that we have our stuff on the show, and that we have enough of it,” smiles Leary during soundcheck at the Bercy sports arena in central Paris. “Laurie [Quigley, FOH engineer for Kravitz since 2004]

has been a long-time JBL VerTec user, but his decision to switch to VTX has given us more power and clarity, and our respective workflows are now much more efficient.” And Quigley must have been sold on his first listen – because that’s all the time he had to make the decision to upgrade to JBL’s latest and most advanced PA offering to date for the European leg of the tour, German production giant Sirius Show Equipment AG was enlisted to duplicate the American VerTec rig, at least in terms of sheer grunt, with its new 24-box VTX system, supplemented by boxes on loan from AED Rent. Leary says VTX has “all the

stuff VerTec had, but more”, and insists that having the presets inside the amplifiers has resulted in a much cleaner- sounding box.

“When using a VerTec system

there would be much steeper cuts than this,” he reveals, pointing to the graphic of the show’s plot displayed on his laptop at FOH position. “We only have eight filters here, and on any typical rig there would literally be twice as many as that. It comes out pretty flat just the way it is, and Laurie likes a flat PA, so this works great for us.” Due to the size of the venue,

Leary’s plot consisted of a 01-01 configuration at the top six boxes, which he says guarantees good coverage at the very back of the room, located some 100m from the stage. “Paul Bauman [JBL’s senior

manager, tour sound] suggested doing it this way for the long throw especially, as it would ensure that I wouldn’t need to attenuate any of the boxes,” he

Sirius Show Equipment AG was enlisted to duplicate the American rig for the Paris show. Here’s Lenny with guitarist Craid David Ross

says. “This space is almost the size of an American arena, so I just need to get the best coverage I can, and it’s pretty consistent from the edge of the barricade right to the back of the room.” The vast VTX system totalled 18 V25 three-way boxes per side for the main hangs, then 15 boxes (plus three flown S28 subs) for each of the side hangs. On the floor, there were also 12 subs per side; and 12 VerTec 87a speakers were deployed for frontfill on stage. Everything was powered by Crown V-Racks and operated via Harman’s proprietary HiQnet System Architect. Harman’s tour sound market

FOH engineer Laurie Quigley opted for the VTX system after just one rehearsal session pre tour

manager EMEA, Gert Sanner, was on site to ‘babysit’ the VTX system, of which JBL has made and delivered more than 1,000 units since it began shipping in May 2012.

“The VTX is a very powerful system, so we don’t need a delay

here, despite it being a vast arena; it’s actually right at the top of the tree in terms of power-to-weight-ratio at the moment,” insists Sanner. “Also, many other systems have a limitation of 16 boxes per hang, but we can do more; here we have an 18-box hang, and there are a lot more components in our boxes in comparison to the competition.” Quigley ran 86 channels from his DiGiCo SD7 at FOH, and is an old school engineer – you won’t find any cardioid bass or sub-steering at a Kravitz show; everything points forwards at all times, which also suits Kravitz, as he likes to feel the low-end on stage. “The band, bar one, are all on

in-ears, but Lenny always wants to hear plenty of kick drum, so he wears one ear in and then relies on the wedges,” explains Leary. “His vocal chain is also pretty particular; he has a

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