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Céline Dion Performs In-the-Round with Meyer Sound MILO on "Taking Chances" World Tour
On February 14, Céline Dion will embark upon her "Taking Chances" world tour of over 100 show dates, following her record-shattering, multi-year resident show in Las Vegas. The tour opens with a benefit concert for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, and will bring the world's best-selling female artist to 85 cities in North America, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East before the final stop in Florida in January 2009. The tour includes a stop in Tokyo, which features the largest Meyer Sound MILO system with a record 168 MILO line array loudspeakers.
The system design for the elaborate, in-the-round production is handled by Dion's long-time head of audio and first-time FOH engineer, Francois "Frankie" Desjardins, whose sound design credits include the Beatles-inspired REVOLUTION Lounge in Las Vegas's Mirage Hotel and the Cirque du Soleil®'s Saltimbanco® touring show.
Having used Meyer Sound loudspeakers since 1992, Desjardins is quick to point out the quality of the products made the choice an obvious one: "People come to hear Céline's voice first and foremost. The sound quality of the vocals is of course the most important thing. Meyer Sound products deliver incredible vocal quality and high intelligibility; they faithfully reproduce the human voice in a way no others can."
The logistics of the year-long, five-continent tour also influenced the decision. "We needed something that was compact and powerful," adds Desjardins. "This is where the advantages of Meyer Sound's self-powered system really come into play, as it's easily reconfigured. With fewer variables and Meyer Sound's tight quality control, the system can sound the same around the world, even when we're relying on local rental companies to provide equipment."
While 360-degree productions create a unique audience experience, they present significant challenges from a technical perspective. "It really increases the overall reverb time, so it's a bit more complex to mix," says Desjardins.
The touring system is provided by Montreal, Canada-based Solotech, which is also the sound provider for various Cirque du Soleil productions and Dion's resident show. The basic in-the-round arena system comprises dual main left-right arrays covering two sides of the square stage, each with 17 MILO loudspeakers and one MILO 120 loudspeaker per side. At each of the four corners is an array of 18 MICA loudspeakers for side PA.
The seamless integration between the MILO and MICA helps provide even coverage to the various venues on the tour. "MILO can easily carry the high energy all the way to the last seat of the arena," says Desjardins. "On the other hand, MICA sounds especially good from medium to short distances and has a wide horizontal pattern to complement the MILO. The transition zone between MILO and MICA is exceptionally smooth."
According to Desjardins, the music in the show is more uptempo and has a stronger rock and roll element than her previous tours. As a result, 24 700-HP subwoofers are flown and 32 groundstacked to provide the deep bass required. "The 700-HP creates the impact that I want. It is simply the most powerful subwoofer for its size," says Desjardins. "And we like the flexibility of being able to fly it or groundstack it."
On stage, 20 M'elodie line array loudspeakers are used as front fills and four CQ-2 loudspeakers provide monitoring.
Desjardins highlights the benefit of using Meyer Sound's RMS remote monitoring system for extensive status and performance data of the system. "I can't hear the other side of the stage, so I rely on RMS to let me know if there are any problems."
On tour with Dion is a technical team comprised of notable sound veterans including Denis Savage who oversees the entire production, Mario St-Onge who handles the technical aspect of the sound system and tunes it using Meyer Sound's SIM 3 audio analyzer, Jean-Charles Ethier who is in charge of monitoring for Dion and the band, along with Desjardins who mixes the show.
Demand for tickets has been overwhelming, with the first dates selling out in mere minutes. "Céline's fans know they get a tremendous show," says Desjardins. "She always delivers her best, and she demands the best from us, and from her equipment. That's what we deliver."