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New Kids on the Block Performs With TLC, Nelly, 360-Degree Surround Sound

Veteran FOH engineer Kevin Elson chose a robust sound system for the brand new 360-degree in-the-round stage setup: Meyer Sound’s LYON sound reinforcement.>

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The 90s are back. At least, they were in 42 cities across the United States and Canada when New Kids on the Block’s latest tour, ‘The Main Event,’ rolled into town.

Additional nostalgia was provided by special guests TLC and Nelly, who opened for the band on the January – July 2015 tour.

For the first time, New Kids on the Block adopted a new stage design, performing 360 degrees in-the-round for audiences across North America. For this intricate setup, the band brought in veteran FOH engineer Kevin Elson, who got his start working with Lynyrd Skynyrd as a club band in 1973. He has since done live sound for names like Van Morrison, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, Foreigner, Bush, and Jewel.

Elson, with the help of VER Tour Sound, chose a Meyer Sound LYON linear sound reinforcement system to support the new 360-degree stage setup. The system has saved the band’s live sound team time, eliminated the need for delays and cut back on the pure amount of cable usually required for this kind of enormous concert stadium space.

“With the self-powered LYON system we have two simple cable runs, making setup a lot quicker and cleaner than it used to be,” says Elson. “With conventional systems you have to run so much cable—sometimes with speaker runs of 300 feet or more—that setup could be a real nightmare.”

Click for photos of the 360-degree stage!

The LYON system was used on all 42 stops of the tour, along with the rest of an extremely robust system: eight hangs of 16-each LYON linear line array loudspeakers, four hangs of six-each 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements, 12 MINA line array loudspeakers available for spot fill, 20 UPM-1P loudspeakers deployed for stage-side VIP seating, and a Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system.

The system is part of a complete package of audio, video and lighting technologies provided by VER Tour Sound under the leadership of Ralph Mastrangelo.

Elson mixes behind an Avid VENUE Profile digital console with Waves and Bomb Factory plug-ins. Vocal microphones are Shure wireless with SM-58 capsules, run through Empirical Labs FATSO Jr. processors. Monitors are mixed on a DiGiCo SD5 digital console.

The best part about the LYON system was the improved ease of setup from prior 360-degree tours, says Elson.

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“Unlike previous tours, we haven’t had to tie into the house delays for the extreme back seats,” says Elson. “This usually compromised quality, and getting the delays set was a time-consuming process. The 1100-LFC provides a rich, musical low end. It rounds out the bottom of the PA, rather than working as a separate low-frequency effect that just thumps at you.”

Doug McKinley, project manager for VER Tour Sound, was pleased with the sound during the very first show of the tour.

“The system is amazing,” says McKinley. “The coverage is exactly the same everywhere—top to bottom and horizontally across. Everybody in the venue gets the same experience. I think this system will set the new audio standard for in-the-round tours.”

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