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Summer with the San Francisco Symphony Sounds Spectacular with New Setup

Jul 21, 2015
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Summer with the San Francisco Symphony Sounds Spectacular with New Setup

The new sound of Summer with the Symphony is garnering rave reviews at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. The premiere public use of a production model Meyer Sound LEOPARD compact linear line array system was overseen by the symphony’s trusted ally and sound engineer for 36 years, Hal Soogian, and the venue’s long-time audio service provider, Bay Area provider of tour and large-scale installed support nation-wide, Pro Media/UltraSound (PM/US).

Knowing that a new speaker system was in the works at Meyer Sound, Soogian and PM/US worked with ardent supporters of the arts and company co-founders, Helen and John Meyer, to make sonic dreams come true for the program’s various concert and movie screening events taking place through August 23.

Installed in Davies Symphony Hall by PM/US’ director of rental operations Tony Norris and his associate Jason Mills, the system was tuned with the technical assistance of Michael Freyer, John Monitto and Michael Maxson from Meyer Sound. All of this was accomplished just in time for Summer with the Symphony’s smash debut sold-out concerts featuring Johnny Mathis on July 2-3.

“Those were incredible shows,” Soogian enthused after the system had been in use for a week indoors at Davies and once outdoors at the jam-packed Pier 27 show that drew a crowd in excess of 5,000 people on July 12.

The LEOPARD system of 14 boxes per side and a cardioid array of three Meyer Sound LFC 900 subwoofers per side will be hanging in Davies throughout July and hung for several dates in August. “Everybody’s who has heard it have been raving about it,” Soogian remarked. “The room coverage, the depth, all those fancy sound terms, it’s just an incredible sound system. The width of the box is incredible. I don’t need smaller boxes to cover my sides, and I don’t use my delay speakers in the ceiling anymore. The LEOPARDs easily reach my second balcony.”

Soogian notes that instruments picked up by PM/US’ kit of Shoeps specialty microphones and mixed on the rental division’s AVID Profile console at front of house, with monitors handled by an AVID SC48 on stage, are frequently mistaken by symphony management, fans and musicians as being unamplified, sounding more akin to acoustic playback. Proud of that subtle effect, he attributes much of it to the linearity and minimal EQ processing employed by the LEOPARD line array loudspeakers: “If I’m mixing soft or or loud, the PA doesn’t change its character.”

For artists who cherish purity of sound above all else, this new addition to pops performances is making all the right kind of waves. “We are proud to continue our long-term support of the San Francisco Symphony,” said Derek Featherstone, vice president of tour sound and special events for Pro Media/UltraSound. “To enable the best possible sound for the Summer with the Symphony lineup of guest performers and movie screenings, we structured a leasing option that fit the needs of the organization, allowing them to have cutting-edge technology without a large capital equipment expense.”