The reactions to PANTHER have again been very positive...Some engineers are often surprised by what they hear from PANTHER because, for the first time, they are hearing the sounds with such high resolution.”
Martin ReichAudio Coordinator, Montreux Jazz Festival and House Engineer, Auditorium Stravinski
From June 30 through July 15, the limelight of contemporary music performance again focused on the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva, where both iconic legends and emerging luminaries assembled for the 57th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival. Meyer Sound was on hand for its 37th year as Strategic Partner and Official Sound Provider, ensuring that the latest in audio technology was ready to connect artists to audiences at the two paid-ticket venues and 11 free music stages.
Again this year, the Auditorium Stravinski hosted world-renowned artists spanning generations and genres, including Bob Dylan, Lil Nas X, Iggy Pop, Gilberto Gil & Family, Buddy Guy, and Nile Rodgers & Chic. And, for the second year, the system at the 4,000-capacity venue was built around a complement of 24 Meyer Sound PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeakers.
“The reactions to PANTHER have again been very positive overall,” says Martin Reich, audio coordinator for the entire festival as well as house engineer at the Auditorium Stravinski. “Some engineers are often surprised by what they hear from PANTHER because, for the first time, they are hearing the sounds with such high resolution.”
During the headline show by Seal, the performance of PANTHER made a striking impression on Rob Stanley, production manager and senior project manager for ZEROdB Live, who works with the R&B superstar as well as other top British artists. “Nothing can ever take away from that amazing show on an amazing PA system,” he says. “In what must be pushing 10,000 shows in my career, this was the best sounding, and put it up there in the top three career moments for me.”
Lucas Pinzón, the FOH engineer for Maluma, immediately felt comfortable with the system. “I have been using Meyer speakers for many years, and I am pleased with the results achieved with PANTHER. It was my first time with this system, and I can’t wait to encounter it again.”
Mixing a set in the Stravinski during the festival was a memorable career moment for Montreux native Sam Nussbaum. His primary job during the festival was as the house engineer at The Memphis, but as he had worked for two years with soulful Swiss singer-songwriter NNAVY, he was behind the board when she opened for Lionel Richie in the Stravinski.
“It was an emotional moment for me,” says Nussbaum, who grew up with the festival as his father was a technical manager at the building complex housing the hall. “I remember as a kid watching engineers mixing legends like Bob Dylan. It was a milestone for me to be behind the desk in this room.”
The PANTHER-based reinforcement system helped give him confidence, he says. “The presence of the PANTHER PA was stunning compared to many of the others I’ve heard in here. And the support from the team from Meyer Sound was fantastic.”
Supporting the PANTHER arrays at the venue were 14 1100‑LFC and six 900‑LFC low-frequency control elements for sub-bass; 2x 4 LINA very compact linear line array loudspeakers as a split center array, and 6 LINA loudspeakers as a center fill; four ULTRA‑X40 loudspeakers for in- and out-fills, and a pair of Amie System monitors at FOH mix.
The scale and configuration of the Auditorium Stravinski system contrasted with Nussbaum’s home base at The Memphis, where he mixed on a system with UPQ-1P point-source loudspeakers as his mains. He also works regularly with Pilar Vega, and he mixed her set at the outdoor Super Bock stage on a system anchored by LEOPARD compact line array loudspeakers.
“The rooms are acoustically different and indoors is different from outdoors, but overall I always can make the Meyer Sound system work and do what I want them to do,” he continues. “You feel a consistency, particularly with transients like the kick and the snare — the sound is always there. You can rely on how the speakers react when you apply EQ and compression.”
For 2023, a total of more than 380 Meyer Sound loudspeakers were deployed across festival sites, with 27 current and legacy loudspeaker models represented in the main and foldback systems.
“Having Meyer Sound as a festival partner is a dream come true, and a treat for everybody,” summarizes Martin Reich. “We get all the tools we could wish for, along with 24/7 support. It couldn’t be better.”
Returning as production manager for this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival was Marco Güntensperger. The principal audio supplier was Skynight SA, based near Geneva, with on-site project managers Goran Pajic and Yvan Baronne working under the overall direction of Nicolas Walser. Eddy Broquet of Meyer Sound’s Swiss distributor, Tonspur, coordinated distribution and technical support. Ianina Canalis and José Gaudin of Meyer Sound technical support were available as needed, with Gaudin doubling as FOH mixer at Montreux Jazz Lab. Senior Product Manager Andy Davies and UK Sales Manager Roland Morcom served as liaisons with the festival’s staff and guest sound engineers.
The Montreux Jazz Festival will return to the shores of Lake Geneva for its 58th edition, from July 5 through July 20 of 2024, but will face new challenges as the Montreux Music & Convention Centre — incorporating both Auditorium Stravinski and the Jazz Lab — will be closed for extensive renovations. Festival management has found replacement venues of similar capacity, and the audio teams will return to face some new challenges, and perhaps new opportunities as well.
Additional Comments from FOH Engineers at Montreux Jazz Festival 2023
“There’s nothing better than mixing a wonderful band, in a great venue with a perfectly tuned PA. It’s my second time on the PANTHER system, and I’m really impressed with both the warmth and the presence. The first time was with a completely different type of band as well! Someone mentioned ‘fairy dust.’ Is that an audio term?”
— Deanne Franklin, FOH Engineer for Chris Isaak
“Just played the Lab…absolutely loved every second of it. The system sounded fantastic. I wish every day was a Meyer day!”
— Rob Spickett, FOH Engineer for Jacob Banks
“Great room and sound! As you said. I loved it! Sounded great and precise. The vocal is very present on both the PANTHER and LEOPARD making it easy to mix on. Looking forward to being back on the PANTHER later in the year! The LEOPARD at Montreux was a pleasure!”
— Nathan Kennedy, FOH Engineer for Maisie Peters