Japan has some of the world’s strictest regulations for touring systems...the introduction of PANTHER has made it possible to offer greatly improved performance within these restrictions. The reduced size and weight met or exceeded all requirements for the tour, especially regarding sound quality.”
Keiji ShigetaCEO, Artwiz
Yumi Matsutoya — known as Yuming to her fans — has been one of the most popular musical artists in her native country of Japan for nearly a half-century. Her current in-the-round concert tour, entitled “The Journey,” has scheduled 54 arena shows and is expected to draw a total audience of 574,000. The tour’s ambitious staging centers around a pirate ship set, while the audio is powered by Japan’s first major touring deployment of Meyer Sound PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeakers.
Audio systems for the tour are supplied by Arté (Acoustic Reinforcement Technology Co.) rental division of S.C. Alliance in partnership with Artwiz, Meyer Sound’s Dealer for Japan. The Meyer Sound system was designed by Arté audio designer and system engineer Shoji Yuzawa with assistance from Meyer Sound Director of System Optimization Bob McCarthy.
The audio production confronted the typical challenges of in-the-round staging with further complications from the unusual set design. “The pirate ship motif pushed the array up high, but PANTHER had enough vertical to get the coverage we needed,” says McCarthy. “And for the horizontal, we used the wider PANTHER-W for the floor seating and transitioned to the narrower PANTHER-L to minimize overlap and maximize intelligibility in the upper bowl.”
The choice of PANTHER for the tour was particularly satisfying for Artwiz CEO Keiji Shigeta as he had mixed Yuming’s concert sound on 14 tours between 1981 and 1993.
“Japan has some of the world’s strictest regulations for touring systems regarding safety and electrical requirements,” notes Shigeta, “and the introduction of PANTHER has made it possible to offer greatly improved performance within these restrictions. The reduced size and weight met or exceeded all requirements for the tour, especially regarding sound quality.”
The touring system is anchored by eight hangs of 12-each PANTHER loudspeakers, with 16 1100‑LFC low-frequency control elements contributing a solid bottom end. Fills are 16 LEOPARD compact line array loudspeakers along with four ULTRA‑X40 compact loudspeakers, with system drive and optimization from three Galileo GALAXY Network Platforms.
FOH engineer Norihiko Tango of Star-Tech, Inc., who has mixed Yuming’s concerts for the past 30 years, found that the PANTHER system faithfully reproduced his mixes. “It is my image,” he says. “Of course, with in-the-round, I hear only one part of the sound, but with the system engineers led by Mr. Yuzawa, I am confident that any variances are quite small.”
“The Journey” across Japan with Yuming commenced on May 13 in Kanagawa and will close on December 28 in Nagoya. In nearly all cities the tour plays two to four concerts, either consecutively or later in the schedule. Although she has the draw to play single shows in larger stadiums, she prefers the relative intimacy afforded by smaller arenas.
Yuming has a special connection to Meyer Sound as some of her earlier tours played a pivotal role in the development of the company’s industry-leading audio measurement and system optimization tools.
“Yuming’s team asked me to join them for shows starting in 1987,” recalls Bob McCarthy. “This was the birthing phase of FFT analysis when we were developing the earliest multi-channel versions of SIM [Source Independent Measurement]. Her shows benefited from the most extensive tunings with an audience in place ever done at that time. Over the years, many of the techniques now common in system optimization were pioneered on her shows. It was very rewarding to meet up with old friends like Shigeta-san, Yuzawa-san and Tango-san to carry forward our work on the latest generation of Meyer Sound systems.”
During his tenure as FOH engineer, Shigeta mixed Yuming’s concerts on several generations of Meyer Sound systems, with main arrays built around MSL-3, MSL-5, MSL-10, M3D, and MILO loudspeakers.
Yumi “Yuming” Matsutoya launched her career in her teens as a session musician and has been active as a singer-songwriter since 1972. She charted her first number-one record in 1975, and subsequently enjoyed enormous success with hit singles and albums, particularly in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Her musical style is strikingly original while also incorporating influences ranging from pop and rock to jazz and folk.