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Meyer Sound M'elodie Helps Diana Ross Entertain on Historic Island of Elba
When high-tech giant Motorola decided to host a special event to cement relationships with several hundred VIP clients, the firm's European division pulled out all the stops and regaled its guests with a fete fit for an emperor. This was particularly appropriate, given that the chosen setting was Villa San Martino on the island of Elba, off the coast of Italy, best known as Napoleon's "summer residence" during his exile from France nearly 200 years ago. In addition to stunning views and sumptuous Italian cuisine, Motorola's favored few also enjoyed live entertainment from legendary pop diva Diana Ross, who was heard through a powerful, yet discreet, system of Meyer Sound M'elodie compact curvilinear array loudspeakers.
Sound reinforcement design for the event was entrusted to Chris Marsh, Ross's FOH engineer and a close associate of Wiltshire, England-based sound hire company Major Tom Ltd. "The brief called for a compact and lightweight full-range system," Marsh says. "The producers wanted a big, exciting show but without bulky production elements. M'elodie arrays fit the bill perfectly." Major Tom Ltd. supplied all audio equipment for the three nights of shows, with systems tech Paul Johnson keeping all gear in top working order.
The stage for Ross and her 10-piece backing band was erected on a broad, shallow terrace behind the villa. (A cutout in the stage accommodated a sapling that had supposedly sprung from roots of "Napoleon's tree.") Two M'elodie arrays of eight cabinets each covered the wide audience area directly in front of the stage, while two UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers at center stage took care of a few front tables and pulled the image down. Additional pairs of UPA-1P cabinets at each end covered tables wrapped around the side, four 600-HP compact high-power subwoofers anchored the bottom end of the sound, and Meyer Sound's new MJF-212 stage monitors provided foldback to Ross and her band. A Galileo loudspeaker management system handled all system drive processing.
"Galileo's atmospheric correction was a true lifesaver," testifies Marsh. "The temperature dropped from a high of 35 to 40 degrees (centigrade) in the afternoon to below 20 at night, and humidity would vary from 40 to 85 percent. But with the Galileo, we took it all in stride."
With cabaret seating sharing space with the stage on the modest terrace, providing both good sound and clear sight lines for more than 150 guests was a major challenge. Marsh gives kudos to Meyer Sound's MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program for helping him resolve the situation. "It was a very helpful tool when explaining to the producers why I wanted to place loudspeakers where I did, and where the audience could best be seated from an audio standpoint," says Marsh.
Major Tom Ltd. has supplied Meyer Sound systems for a number of other prestigious (and more public) events recently, including Rod Stewart's European tours, concerts by Metallica and Andrea Bocelli, and the BBC's annual Proms in the Park extravaganzas.