I can’t say enough good things about this rig. Judging from what I hear at front of house, and from all the compliments I was getting throughout the weekend, we have a great season ahead of us. ”
Randall FrazierSenior Talent Buyer and Production Manager, Levitt Pavilion Denver
With the installation of 16 PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeakers in early May, Levitt Pavilion Denver earned the distinction of being the first venue anywhere to offer artists and audiences the benefits of Meyer Sound’s newest reinforcement technologies. The May opening weekend of performances showcased the new system’s capabilities across a broad spectrum of genres, ranging from percussion-laden cumbia to reggae-pop, and from bluesy alt-rock to a classical quartet and operatic vocals.
Two shows were part of the Levitt Pavilion’s free series of 50 concerts, with Mexico City’s Son Rompe Pera taking the stage on Friday and the classically rooted Central City Opera with Grand Orquestra Navarre on Sunday. The Saturday event, one of 20 ticketed shows produced by Live Nation, drew a capacity crowd of 7,000 for the Freddy Jones Band, The Samples, and headliners Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Mixing all acts except the Saturday headliners was house engineer Randall Frazier, who also serves as Levitt Pavilion Denver’s senior talent buyer and production manager.
“Friday night was my first mix on the new PANTHER rig, and it was glorious,” says Frazier. “You could really hear the transients on the percussion. And the sound of the marimba was amazing, with the fast transient attack, rich tones, and boxy wooden sound all carried beautifully.”
On Saturday, the artists on stage also noticed the change. “The Samples commented three times on how great everything sounded. They were out in the crowd listening during Freddy Jones’ set and during their set they asked, ‘Does it sound as good out there as it does up here?’ The crowd just roared in response. After the show, random people were coming up to the sound booth giving me high fives.”
For Frazier, it was the Sunday show that revealed the subtlety and finesse of the system. “Grand Orquestra Navarre was piano, upright bass, accordion, and bandoneon, and you could really hear everything breathing. PANTHER’s dynamic range really opens up space in the mix. It’s incredible the amount of detail you can hear.”
The Levitt Pavilion Denver system comprises main left and right hangs of eight-each PANTHER loudspeakers, with six narrower “L” pattern cabinets on top and two “W” wide cabinets underneath. Side hangs are eight each LINA very compact linear line array loudspeakers, with three more LINA loudspeakers for center fill. Deep bass is driven by 12 1100‑LFC low frequency control elements, with system drive and optimization supplied by one GALAXY 816 and two GALAXY 408 Network Platforms. Each PANTHER cabinet connects directly to the GALAXY processor via an AVB network using the Milan protocol. The system was provided by Denver-based Production Services International, Inc. (PSI), and will be used by all acts, free or ticketed, through the season.
PSI has supplied other systems for the venue in the past, and on the debut weekend company owner Alan Hart was on hand to evaluate his new investment. “PANTHER is far better than anything I’ve been able to bring in here before,” he comments. “The sound is big and full, and the way the 1100 subs work with the PANTHER arrays is just phenomenal.”
Walking the venue, Hart was impressed by the system’s uniform, controlled coverage. “The sound was strong and clear everywhere until I got to the top of the rise where the noise limit applies, and it quickly dropped off. It’s so precise that Randall says he can mix five to seven dB louder now without hitting the limit.”
“I can’t say enough good things about this rig,” summarizes Frazier. “Judging from what I hear at front of house, and from all the compliments I was getting throughout the weekend, we have a great season ahead of us. I’m looking forward to it, and it’s a job well done by Meyer Sound.”
When the system comes down in October, PSI’s Hart expects his investment will keep paying back through the winter season. “I actually decided to buy a PANTHER system before I had the Levitt contract,” he says, “because it will be the perfect system to use for outdoor events at the ski resorts. The portable stages have almost no room for amp racks, and PANTHER’s built-in standard weather protection means I don’t have to worry if we’re hit by a sudden blizzard or quick snow melt. And the light weight, quick rigging, and power efficiency are big pluses as well.”
Hart gives credit to PSI Head of Audio Mike Norfleet and Audio Lead Robert “Sparky” Nielson for their roles in the success of PANTHER’s debut at the Levitt Pavilion Denver. System design and tuning was performed by Meyer Sound’s Director of System Optimization Bob McCarthy and Senior Technical Support Specialist Josh Dorn-Fehrmann.
“As a music venue and a community asset, sound mitigation and remaining compliant with our noise ordinances are top priorities. So much of controlling our sound is based on the responsiveness of our PA,” comments Andy Thomas, interim executive director for Levitt Pavilion Denver. “The Meyer Sound system allows us complete clarity and control of our audio. It allows us to put on a sonically exciting show within the venue while at the same time, controlling the output at the top. PANTHER checks all of the boxes for us and we couldn’t be more excited.”
First opened in 2017, Levitt Pavilion Denver is a partnership between the City of Denver Parks and Recreation and the Levitt Foundation, with ticketed shows produced by Live Nation. Other free shows for 2022 include Black Uhuru, Ruthie Foster, Steep Canyon Rangers, Drive By Truckers, North Mississippi Allstars, and the Cool Vibes Reggae Fest. Ticketed shows include Tears for Fears, Burning Spear, Big Time Rush, and Elvis Costello & the Imposters with Nick Lowe.