Marking their 40th anniversary, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have taken to the road with EAW ADAPTive sound reinforcement system for the second consecutive time.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers‘I chose ADAPTive when it was brand new for the 2014 tour and I’m still impressed with what the system can do, and the improvements and upgrades the company continues to provide,’ says FOH Engineer Robert Scovill. ‘My choice to use it this time was an easy one. It does exactly what they say it does, and we have heard nothing but rave reviews from the band and fans.’

California-based Sound Image is providing the crew and the system, which comprises Anya array and Otto subwoofer modules, supplemented by Anna delay towers for stadium shows.

The 270° arena rig uses 56 Anya for the main LR arrays, hung in a 12-8-8 column configuration per side, a centre cluster of six Anya and 14 Otto subs spaced across the front of the stage. The majority of the tour will use this system although for stadium shows, like Wrigley Field in Chicago, Scovill has specified a delay ring made up of four towers of 12 Anna enclosures to supplement the main rig.

‘As we modelled a couple of stadiums, it was clear that improvements in coverage could be obtained through judicial use of delay towers,’ Scovill says. ‘They are used primarily to reach up under seating levels blocked by overhanging structures. The centre cluster of Anya provides imaging for the audience on the main floor.

‘I do not use any toe-in on the main arrays. This opens the centre up reducing overlap of the main arrays into the rear corners of the venue while also providing a defined area for me to work the centre cluster. Coverage for the centre starts with a blending of the front fills but ends behind me at FOH. Where the coverage ends is critical as it has to stop right where the main LR arrays begin to converge. ADAPTive makes this very simple to adjust as no physical movement of the arrays or array angles is required.’

EAW ADAPTive sound systemThe ADAPTive system is designed to be a fixed variable, allowing the the system to be deployed in same physical configuration in every venue, regardless of coverage requirements. This provides consistency not only for the audio team but also for the promoter, who deals with seats and sightlines, as well as the rigging, lighting and video crews. Nothing changes in the physical set-up; Resolution software calculates new coverage requirements day-to-day – even when the venue is asymmetrical.

‘Most of our shows will be in arenas but for the smaller set-ups like sheds, the system is designed to easily scale down. Long, narrow venues like Red Rocks use one Anya column per side, sheds use two columns and the arena shows are three columns – all plus the centre column. The well thought out horizontal arc-segment of Anya makes this incredibly easy. It’s almost as if they designed it that way,’ Scovill says.

This is Scovill’s first outing with the Otto subwoofers, which he uses to anchor the sound to the stage, especially for the people sitting in the close VIP area: ‘I have used subs with previous tours to supplement the mains but the 2014 tour with ADAPTive was the first time I felt the subs weren’t necessary. Going into this tour, I knew the mains were going to be fine, so I focused on improvements I could make for the front fill set-up covering the VIP seats,’ he explains.

‘The Otto subwoofer had not been developed for the first tour so I was excited to test it for this one – it did not disappoint. Not only was the Resolution software able to deal with my spaced arrangement of enclosures required for the front-fill deployment, but the subs’ compact size and exceptional rear-rejection allowed me to use it without disturbing Tom on stage, who is very sensitive to sub-bass.

Tom Petty

‘This system has surpassed anything I have used in the past – including my 2014 rig, which was outstanding. The recent Resolution software upgrade is excellent,’ he concludes. ‘The effectiveness of Spatial EQ and the new Airloss control features are more than impressive. To be able to pinpoint a physical area in a venue and only EQ that area is a tool that we, as an industry, have never seen before.

‘Before this, the best we could do with traditional PAs was to zone enclosures into groups of two or three, and apply EQ to a zone. Hardly a predictable way of doing it, but it was our only option. Not anymore. It’s incredible to have a measurement mic in some remote location, apply a filter, hear nothing at FOH yet see the transfer trace adjust on the computer to that filter.

The tour is also using Telefunken M80 dynamic microphones: "I've been using the M80 on vocals for a few tours now, and am constantly impressed with both how consistent they are show to show with Tom and The Heartbreakers, coupled with their reliability and durability,’ Scoville says. ‘The 80 is a really wonderful vocal and instrument mic, nothing less than I would expect from a company with the pedigree of Telefunken.’

In 2010 Scovill designed a hybrid studio recording system specifically for Petty that allowed him and his band mates to record as if they were onstage – in effect bringing their stage approach to the studio. Petty and co-producer Ryan Ulyate completed multiple albums with The Heartbreakers, Mudcrutch and others where Petty uses a Telefunken U47 large-diaphragm condenser mic when recording in this unique setting.

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