ASHEVILLE, NC 4.2.20¾One of the biggest names in country music, Jason Aldean released his debut album in 2005. His debut single, “Hicktown,” quickly climbed the charts. Ever since, Aldean has continued to create chart-topping tracks, snag multiple music-industry awards, and plot nationwide stadium tours
Aldean’s production crew are not new to d&b loudspeaker arrays, having used J-Series in the past. Up until the recent COVID-19 virus they were out on the beginning of the 2020 “We Be Back” tour for which they chose the new d&b KSL loudspeaker system provided by Spectrum Sound of Nashville. As the name of the tour infers, now more than ever, Jason and crew will be back!
“We’ve been touring with d&b J-Series from Spectrum Sound since 2010 and have seen the progression of that technology from D12 amplifiers to D80s, to the implementation of DS10 and Dante drive, and eventually ArrayProcessing,” states Chris Stephens, front of house engineer for Jason Aldean. “The KSL loudspeaker is the natural continuation of what was built with J-Series and continues the d&b tradition of being a step ahead of the rest of the industry.”
KSL was introduced to the world last year as the ‘younger sibling’ to the flagship GSL system, which set the stage for the evolutionary path that KSL would inherit as part of the SL-Series, just in a smaller package. Technologies like ArrayProcessing have also provided an option for sonic consistency, delivering tonal balance and even level distribution over the entire coverage area front to back.
Stephens said they did their first show on KSL last October at Globe Life Park Stadium in Arlington, TX with 132 KSL and 46 SL-SUBS and were blown away at the performance of the box in a stadium. “The idea of being able to do stadiums with a 10” loudspeaker line array was unthinkable a few years ago, but the amount of low frequency response we got out of this box far exceeded what we had previously; unprecedented for its size. The current leg of Jason’s 2020 tour is all arenas, and the low frequency pattern control of the KSL is even more evident and advantageous indoors. The clarity we are able to achieve in the low-mids has completely changed the way I mix the show. The separation between the bass guitar and heavy electric guitars in boomy arenas is something we never thought possible with conventional PA systems. You don’t realize how much the information from 60Hz-400Hz coming from the rear of the array is adversely impacting the rest of the mix until it isn’t there.”
Stephens added that the size, weight and rigging flexibly of KSL also suits Jason’s touring style. “We will go from arenas to amphitheaters and then to stadiums, often in the same week. Being able to scale the PA up and down with the same top and sub for every application is priceless. This provides an incredible level of consistency for me as a mixer. It’s very easy to get into weight limitations in amphitheaters. KSL’s light weight enables us to always hang enough to cover even to the back of the lawn in amphitheaters with low weight limits. Perhaps the biggest impact we are feeling with KSL is how quiet the stage is now. The band has consistently commented that they cannot tell when the PA is on or off when listening to their in-ears. This make a huge difference to Jason who is particularly sensitive to LF bleed from the PA in his ear mix. I couldn’t be more impressed with KSL as a whole package; the sonic quality is the best I’ve ever heard, all while keeping the band happy without the PA getting in the way of their ear mixes.”
“The KSL system is a gamechanger,” adds monitor engineer Evan Richner. “Jason has always been sensitive to stage volume, and the absence of show content coming from the back of the PA is amazing. It not only ambiently cleans up the mix on stage but there is less bleed into the microphones, even further cleaning up the mixes. It has made it possible to finetune all of the guys mixes allowing them to be able to put forward their very best performance.”
SL-Series is renowned for its full bandwidth constant directivity, providing strict pattern control with less sound reflecting off of walls and minimal noise on stage behind the rig.
Richner said the mixes from day to day have become much more consistent as well. “I don’t have to worry about battling the noise from the PA, just the sound of the room. Most of the bleed that makes it to the stage is simply from reflections in the room and not directly from the boxes. Instead of having to compensate for the PA and the room I’m able to concentrate more on just making the effects of the room reflections minimal. Overall the KSL is amazing. It’s really made my day to day work more efficient and enjoyable.”
Independent audio contractor and systems engineer on the tour, Casey Stewart, said the KSL-Series has exceeded his expectations in almost every way possible: consistency, reliability, performance, and innovation. “As Chris mentioned, our first show was transitioning from J-Series to KSL at the Globe Life Park Baseball Stadium in Arlington. Due to the scale of this deployment and time constraints, it was important for us to know going into it our workflow would not have to be drastically altered in order to get the rig up and sounding great.”
Stewart said that with accurate measurements of the room and good data entry into ArrayCalc simulation software, he’s found it well within his ability to provide consistent coverage throughout the listening space each and every day. “The horizontal pattern control and LF output is unlike anything I’ve encountered in any other line array in its class. Between this and ArrayProcessing, it’s never been easier to achieve uniform coverage from top to bottom and side to side, ultimately offering our listeners the best possible concert experience regardless of where they’re seated. Not only is the box more powerful than expected for its size, scalability, and weight, it is sonically more precise. I told Chris that while tuning for our first arena show of the year it felt like everything got a little bit sharper.”
Stewart notes that what may have required more drastic adjustment in the past can now be achieved with just a simple click or two. “The cardioid directionality of KSL is perhaps one of its most dumbfounding attributes. It’s always fun to watch people’s first reaction to how clean it is onstage while operating at show level.”
The “We Back” touring rig includes16 x KSL8/4 KSL12 per side for mains, 16 x KSL8s per side for side fill with 6 x SL-SUBs per side flown, 14 x SL-SUBs arrayed in 7 stacks of 2 for ground, 8 x Y10P loudspeakers for front fill, and 52 x D80 amplifiers.
Stephens and Richner are using SSL L550s at both FOH and Monitors. “We have been using SSL Live consoles at FOH and Monitors since 2014, said Stephens. “I couldn’t be happier with the functionality and sound quality we get out of the console. The clarity and depth that SSL provides is perfectly represented in KSL. The PAs incredible accuracy perfectly represents the SSL consoles warmth and clarity.”
The new Waves SuperRack software is being used at front of house. Jason Aldean uses Audio-Technica microphones exclusively.
Photo ID: L to R: fly tech Paul Shultz, crew chief/RF coordinator Bob Campbell, FOH engineer Chris Stephens, SE Casey Stewart, fly tech/playback Rob Gulseth, and monitor engineer Evan Richner