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Placebo Delivers a Real Dose of Sound with Meyer Sound MILO and MICA
Controversial British emo-rockers Placebo were out on tour again in late 2006, this time in support of their recently released album, Meds. The band, who have maintained a loyal following since their chart debut in 1995, were supported on their European dates by UK-based Canegreen, who provided a sound system based on Meyer Sound's MILO high-power and MICA compact high-power curvilinear array loudspeaker systems.
The main system comprised two arrays of (from top to bottom) two M3D line array loudspeakers, 14 MILO cabinets, and two MILO 120 high-power expanded coverage curvilinear array loudspeakers for downfill. Augmenting the main arrays are side hangs of 10 MICA cabinets, as well as a center array of four more MICA boxes. When needed, a selection of MSL-4 horn-loaded long-throw loudspeakers and legacy, unpowered MSL-2A reinforcement loudspeakers were utilized for additional fill. Eight 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers flown on each side supplied sub-bass.
"With the MICA side hangs, the band got fantastic coverage of the tiers and edges of the venues," says Canegreen's Luther Edmonds, "and this was the first time Canegreen have flown the 700-HPs, which really made the difference in getting excellent bass sound to all parts of the venues, rather than being concentrated in the center of the halls."
FOH engineer Ian Nelson found that the sonic consistency across the various Meyer Sound loudspeaker models assured him that the entire audience was hearing what he was hearing as he mixed. "All of the M Series cabinets we used sounded the same," he says. "From MICA to MILO, it was very easy to integrate the various zones into one coherent, continuous zone. Wherever you went in the venue, the mix sounded the same and I became very confident in the fact that if it sounded one way at FOH, it sounded the same for a person who was sitting in the MICA sidefill coverage area, standing at the barrier under the MILO 120s, or under the MICA center hang."
Nelson designed the system with Canegreen's Richard Martin; Meyer Sound's UK office provided additional assistance. Dan Seal handled the day-to-day venue assessment. "Dan worked with Ian at each venue using MAPP Online Pro (acoustical prediction software), and came up with the configuration most suitable for that particular hall," explains Edmonds. "This allowed them to get the best possible result for each show without necessarily hanging the entire system each night." Canegreen's Paul McCauley and Adam Field were the system techs for the tour.
"The use of MAPP allowed us to very accurately predict how any venue would respond to a particular array," Nelson says, "and to try many different ideas in the virtual world, then use those that appeared to work in the real world. This saved a lot of time in rehearsals and allowed us to find out why we were not happy when certain ideas proved to be inappropriate to our show." Nelson mixed the dates on a Digidesign Venue console.
Meyer Sound's Galileo loudspeaker management system handled system processing and drive. "Galileo was a major factor in Ian Nelson taking Meyer for the tour," says Edmonds. "It really made a big difference in the sound." Edmonds also notes the importance of the RMS remote monitoring system, which was vital for a system of this size.
Nelson's greatest praise is not for any one of the Meyer Sound products he uses, but for the whole system concept they were all designed to fit into. "My decision to move to a MILO-based system was primarily motivated by the degree of integration that is offered by Meyer Sound for all of the processes involved in mixing a show," Nelson notes, "from the remote design facilities of MAPP Online Pro to the system processing offered by Galileo. My feeling is that the level of integration that Meyer offers is a benchmark for the whole industry. From planning, to processing, to loudspeaker arrays, to support, the solutions offered by Meyer are second to none, and each offering of theirs has made my life as an FOH engineer easier."
The band was on the road for much of 2006, mostly covering a range of European arenas, including the 17,000-seat Bercy in Paris. After a handful of U.S. dates in October and November playing smaller venues, the band returned to Europe and the UK for a series of shows running up to the Christmas holidays, including London's Wembley Arena.
"It does sound fantastic," Edmonds concludes. "With the right tools and a great engineer, you can really bring out the best."