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Meyer Sound MILO Brings the Punch Lines Home for Dane Cook HBO Special

United States
13 December 2006 — A cavernous arena crammed with 18,000 raucous, roaring fans is no laughing matter when you’re in charge of making sure every single one of them hears the punch lines. It doesn’t make your job any easier when your client, HBO Productions, insists on the sound system being tucked discreetly up near the ironwork. However, when superstar comic Dane Cook taped A Vicious Circle for an ecstatic hometown audience at Boston’s TD Banknorth Center, every syllable was carried intelligibly to the crowd by a high-flying system of 56 Meyer Sound MILO® high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers.

“The crowd noise was insane,” says Scott Tkachuk, of sound provider Rainbow Production Services (Hampstead, N.H.). “You’d think it was New Kids on the Block all over again. But with the MILOs, the sound cut through with no problems.”

Sound for any broadcast mega-event is challenging since, as Tkachuk notes, “it’s all about the shoot.” The fact that Cook was presented in the round expanded the demands to a full 360 degrees.

To handle the assignment, site production manager Al Dotoli first consulted with Bill Blaine, vice president of audio at Rainbow. Blaine then handed off the particulars of system design for the in-the-round show to senior audio engineer Jim Roese.

“We used MILO because it sounds great and has plenty of power,” explains Roese, “and it also helped that it’s a 90-degree (horizontal coverage) box. That meant I could cover all of the bowl with a six-point hang.”

Working in the precise environment of the MAPP Online Pro™ acoustical prediction program, Roese plotted out a system comprising four hangs of eight MILO cabinets and two of six units, with a pair of MILO 120 high-power expanded coverage curvilinear array loudspeakers added to the bottom of each hang for downfill. A ring of eight M2D compact curvilinear array loudspeakers, used individually, was laid around the stage lip to cover the near rows.

The daunting assignment was further complicated by a jammed calendar at the arena. Home games by the Boston Bruins hockey and Boston Celtics basketball teams on the preceding two nights meant that everything had to go up fast, with essentially no time for re-aiming loudspeakers and little time for electronic tweaking. According to Roese, MAPP Online Pro proved crucial in getting everything pinpointed in advance.

“I did the coverage, the zoning and the pinning all in MAPP,” says Roese. “It was amazing the way it flew up and everything was covered. Also, MAPP does frequency-specific displays, which was great since I could see what vocal range frequencies I need, and which I wanted to avoid. So when we fired it up, you could hear clearly everywhere.”

In the final hours before the show, Roese put on the hat of systems engineer, with Tkachuk joining him as crew chief and FOH mixer. Both were grateful for the relative simplicity and ease of flying the self-powered MILO system.

“It was helpful having a self-powered rig because I don’t know where we would have put a half-dozen amp racks,” says Tkachuk. “Everything had to go up in the catwalks, including power distros for sound and lighting. The MILO hang was clean, and made life much easier for us.”

According to Roese, MILO’s QuickFly® rigging helped make up for lost time when the other production elements that had to go in first — inevitably — fell behind schedule. “Once you understand how the rigging works, you can cart in the MILOs in fours, pin them up, have the whole rig in the air in a matter of minutes, and get out of everyone’s hair. It’s almost magic.”

Despite the fact that most of the show was Cook prowling the stage with a Shure Beta 58A wireless microphone, Tkachuk says it was “one of the most nerve-wracking shows I’ve worked.” He cited the difficulty of maintaining levels that could stay above the laughter and keep the crowd, but not the room acoustics, excited.

“In the end I was very happy with the sound,” says Tkachuk. “Since we had no subs — we didn’t really need them — we ran the MILOs full range. Cook has a distinct voice and it carried well. I noticed it sounded warm and big on the HBO special, as it did in the room — where it also sounded just plain loud.”

Roese also liked what he heard as he roamed the hall making minor adjustments to the system EQ. “To me it sounded great. We had excellent intelligibility everywhere in the bowl, which was no small feat in that hyped-up crowd.”

Dane Cook: www.danecook.com
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