Lars Brogaard and Chris Marsh of Major Tom discuss their involvement with PANTHER and its debut on the forthcoming Ed Sheeran tour.
On Collaboration in Final Development
Lars Brogaard: Chris and I discussed the sound design for the new Ed Sheeran tour quite some time ago and came to a quick realization that Major Tom would need to invest in a lot of new speakers to achieve the coverage required. From this discussion we spoke with John and Helen Meyer about whether the investment was to be in any of the current speakers or was it time for a new product.
John Meyer asked me, “Well, what would you like?” I told him I would like LEO coverage in a LYON box. It turned out that wasn’t physically possible as the horn was too deep for the box. Since then [Engineering Director, Acoustical & Mechanical] Katie Murphy designed a new 80-degree “L” horn that would fit in the box. John was nervous that the 80-degree would not suit our requirements, but all of the team at Major Tom agreed that an 80-degree horn would be perfect for when we need a long throw outdoors. It also works well in a theater or arena where 60 degrees can be a bit too narrow, and 90 degrees is almost too wide for the long throw box. Meyer Sound took all our suggestions seriously and it’s reflected in the final product.
On Being in the Spotlight with a New Product
Chris Marsh: Some might say we’re taking a chance being the first to go out with a brand-new product. After all, the Ed Sheeran tour will be the follow-up to the most successful tour that ever was, so undoubtedly the eyes of the industry will be on us. But looking back at the relationship we have enjoyed with Meyer Sound, we have full confidence in the way this box is going to perform.
Brogaard: Yes, we’re putting ourselves on the line in a sense, but at Major Tom we’ve always been groundbreakers. Whether it was digital mixing consoles, in-ear monitors, or fiber optic snakes, for us it was always about breaking new ground. It’s much more interesting to be out front than to be a follower, and that’s how we expect it to be with PANTHER.
Marsh: This time, for example, we will be breaking new ground as the first to take Milan AVB signals right to the speaker box. We believe that is the way forward, to maintain a digital signal chain all the way to the driver. It’s the way of the future.
On Meeting the Challenges of the Ed Sheeran Tour
Brogaard: Our involvement with PANTHER stems from Chris going out on this Sheeran tour. It’s a massive tour, and it’s in the round so it needs a lot of speakers. We were concerned about the weight issues involved and started looking for new ways to go with it.
Marsh: The reality is, we needed this box for this in-the-round tour. On our main hangs, we would have needed 12 arrays with LEO where with PANTHER we can do the job with eight. For the design it also helped enormously that the PANTHER box weighs in at 150 lb.
Brogaard: From a practical standpoint, fewer hangs makes the whole project less labor-intensive and saves the tour money on truck space required.
On PANTHER as a Long-Term Investment
Brogaard: We always have believed in making sure the sound is as good as it can get, and that’s why we’re pushing the envelope again with PANTHER. We moved forward with the last two generations of Meyer Sound line arrays, and now PANTHER is going to take it a huge leap forward.
Marsh: As Lars said earlier, if we’re going to be leaders, we would prefer to spend money to develop new opportunities. PANTHER certainly presents new opportunities on the Sheeran tour, but it goes beyond that. We are investing in something that is new and exciting in many applications. Yes, the boxes will start in stadiums on the Sheeran tour, but because of its size and weight they could easily end up in theaters or venues supporting smaller acts. PANTHER is finally a box that can really be used in all venues.
On Major Tom’s Relationship with Meyer Sound
Marsh: The personal relationship that Lars has forged over the years with John and Helen is certainly unique among our suppliers. Yes, we often work on product development with other key suppliers, like DiGiCo and Sennheiser, but there’s nothing else like our collaboration with Meyer Sound.
Brogaard: And I’d like to add one thing about working with John Meyer. He’s brilliant and he has his own ideas, but he’s also wide open to listening. There’s no ego involved. There are other innovators that don’t want to listen to anybody, but Meyer Sound is always open to suggestions. Over the years they’ve always taken seriously what we have to say.