One of the interesting things about this design was how the PANTHER horn behaves horizontally. You can get much further off-axis before it starts to roll off, giving coverage to the edge of the audience area without the need for outfills.”
Michael LawrenceSystems Engineer
For two days in early May, Daze Between New Orleans offered up a piquant musical jambalaya with headliners Goose joined on the main stage by Melt, Lawrence, David Shaw and George Porter Jr. and Runnin’ Pardners. The festivities were hosted on the expansive grounds of the historic Faubourg Brewery, with Upscale Productions providing a Meyer Sound PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeaker system for spreading potent music throughout the gathering.
Goose closed the show on both evenings of the event, with the Connecticut-based improvisational rock masters deftly mixed by their Front of House Engineer and Production Manager Eric Loomis. “It was a great experience,” he reports. “I was able to mix at my preferred average loudness with more than enough headroom left over. Also, Goose is a very dynamic band, and with some other systems, the color of the mix can change. PANTHER was very consistent no matter what the band threw at it.”
Loomis first noticed the unique qualities of PANTHER in January when mixing sets at Mexico’s Playing In The Sand festival. “There is a transparency and clarity that enables me to focus more on the balance of the mix, rather than having to adjust the frequency response of the PA in the system processing.”
Upscale Productions had fortuitously engaged the services of notable systems engineer — also FOH engineer, senior instructor for Rational Acoustics and podcast host — Michael Lawrence to optimize the system.
“One of the design constraints for festivals in this format is that you have a lot of throw distance to cover but at a relatively low trim height,” says Lawrence. “That is a challenge for front-to-back consistency because you want to hang as long an array as possible. With PANTHER, we were able to hang 12 a side within our allotted weight, which gave us higher uniformity and better directivity than we would have been able to achieve with earlier generations of product.”
Lawrence also was pleased with the horizontal coverage. “One of the interesting things about this design was how the PANTHER horn behaves horizontally. You can get much further off-axis before it starts to roll off, giving coverage to the edge of the audience area without the need for outfills.”
Lawrence used the MAPP 3D System Design and Prediction Tool and the Product Integration feature in the GALAXY processors to create both the PANTHER main hang and the deep bass array, which consisted of a line of eight two-element cardioid stacks of 700-HP subwoofers, delaying the outer two stacks to match coverage with the PANTHER arrays.
“This configuration kept tonal consistency throughout and lessened the power alley effect,” he says. “Finally, I did the tuning and alignment with Smaart v9. I think I ended up with only two filters and a bit of shading to get where I wanted to go. Other than that, the only changes were in response to changes in environmental conditions throughout the festival.”
The results of his work were appreciated by all the FOH engineers working the stage, including Leo Pisaq, who mixed for the (coincidentally booked) band Lawrence.
“The sound was exceptional in terms of stereo imaging,” he says. “Also, the vocals and the transients — specifically on drums — came through like no other PA I’ve mixed on.”
Daze Between was the first major festival assignment for their PANTHER rig since acquired by Upscale Productions in late 2022, with prior booking for regional tours and a busy showroom concert schedule at the Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder, LA, not far from Upscale Productions’ home base in Lake Charles.
Upscale placed its order for PANTHER having never heard the system, according to co-owner Chris Lambert. “Meyer Sound said it would be a game-changer and I took them at their word.”
Upscale already had both the LEOPARD and LINA line array systems in their inventory, and decided it was time to upgrade their aging MILO line array system. “When PANTHER was announced, I knew it was time to make the move,” continues Lambert. “With PANTHER, we would shave off 80 pounds a box, and since much of our work is on mobile stages with weight limits, we knew that would make a huge difference. And working outdoors, PANTHER feels right on top of you at a distance. You still get a focused response at 200 feet and beyond.”
Artists enjoying the new Upscale system have included Lee Brice, Third Eye Blind, Jefferson Starship, and the Commodores. It was the Lee Brice tour that first connected Michael Lawrence with the Upscale owners and crew.
“The Upscale team takes the job seriously, but we have a lot of fun together,” says Lawrence. “I was glad to be asked to come down for Daze Between. It’s a great collaboration. Chris and David [co-owner David Lapointe] set the tone for the entire operation. They want to do it right and make sure all the pieces are in place, but they also have trust in their crew and allow everybody the space to do a great job.”
Daze Between is an interim musical celebration held mid-week between the two consecutive weekends of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In 2023 it was presented by Dayglo Presents, Live For Live Music, GMP Live, Purple Hat Productions, and Rose Tours. A portion of the proceeds benefited the Rex Foundation and will be distributed to charities in the New Orleans area.