Country Superstar Tours With SES And Outline GTO
Outline’s largest sound system so far used for a major American tour
Winner of six Country Music Association Awards (including their 2021 & 2022 Entertainer of the Year award), four Academy Of Country Music Awards and three Grammy nominations, 33 year-old Luke Combs is one of country music’s brightest stars.
The American singer-songwriter is presently undertaking a major tour across North America in support of his fourth album Gettin’ Old, released in March 2023. The Growin’ Up World tour runs March through July and features Combs plus support acts Riley Green, Lainey Wilson, Flatland Cavalry and Brent Cobb. The popularity of Combs and contemporary country music in general is evidenced by the scale of the venues – the tour is playing principally in NFL football stadiums, accommodating crowds of up to 65,000 per night and every show is already sold out.
A touring production on this scale demands not only a technical infrastructure able to deliver the show (including a colossal stage provided by G2 Structures) but also an audio system that can handle all the nuances of modern country music, which swings freely between gentle acoustic ballads and powerful country-rock. Special Event Services (SES) of Mocksville NC are the sound and lighting contractor for this tour and are deploying the largest Outline loudspeaker system so far used for a major American tour.
“The size and layout of the venues plus the audience numbers led us to design a system using our Outline GTO inventory because we knew it had the combination of horsepower and accuracy needed to fill these stadiums, with the fidelity that Combs’ music demands. We have to be able to cover an audience width of 220 degrees from the stage, so the design is somewhat unusual in that the main L&R hangs are actually slightly smaller than the side arrays.”
“The L&R hangs each comprise 16 Outline GTO line-array boxes over a single GTO-DF (downfill cabinet) with eight GTO-LOW (bass extension elements) hung behind them, while the side LL / RR arrays include 20 GTO over one GTO-DF. Beyond them there are outfill LLL / RRR arrays, each comprising 26 x Mantas 28 loudspeakers. We also deploy three delay towers, each loaded with six GTOs flown over eight GTO C-12 cabinets. The low-frequency support comes from 40 x LAB21-HS subwoofers, while 20 LIPF-082 lip fills cover the area immediately in front of the stage.”
FOH system control and power is via two Outline Newton 16+8 FPGA processors which also accept the outputs from the five mixing consoles used for the headliner and various support acts, while the loudspeaker system overall is powered by 90 Outline TTM12K4 amplifiers.
Farah continues, “Thus far, having completed shows in Arlington, Indianapolis, Nashville, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Chicago, every component of the system has performed flawlessly – at the first show at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas, the house audio engineer remarked that he had never heard a PA throw so far and so effectively as our Outline GTO system.”
“Outline’s OpenArray 3D simulation software has accurately shown how to deploy the system to yield consistent results from stadium to stadium, and it sounds fabulous for the entire audience no matter where they are seated. This setup also demonstrates again how easy it is to integrate different Outline loudspeakers to create a uniformly-voiced, totally consistent and very musical overall solution in a challenging environment.”
Key tour personnel – Systems Tech Joseph Lefebvre, Production Manager Jerry Slone and FOH Engineer Todd Lewis – all echo Farah’s comments about the system and its performance:
Joseph Lefebvre: “Deployment of the Outline system has been an absolute breeze. There are a lot of elements to the rig and my team can get it in and out of the venue effortlessly which gives me plenty of time to tune and align the system. The Armonía control software combined with the Newton processors on the front end have provided all the tools I need to accurately dial it in with minimal effort.”
“Sonically, the PA has everything we’re looking for. The low end is tight and punchy, and the high end is crystal clear without being fatiguing for the listener. Luke’s vocals combined with the 8” drivers are a great combination. At distance, the PA provides clarity in droves and with the TTM amplifiers we have all the power and headroom we could ask for. All this in addition to the incredible stereo imaging of GTO makes for a memorable concert experience for everyone from the front of the venue to all the way in the back.”
Jerry Slone: “As an audio engineer myself, this PA has done nothing but impress me. Before we made the switch, I was shown audio coverage maps overlaid into a few of the venues we were playing this year and was caught off guard, to be honest. Our team, which I am extremely proud of, continues to strive for improvements, deploying this system has been just that, an improvement.”
And the final word from Todd Lewis, commenting after the Arlington show and clearly a happy man: “Show number one in the books. I have to say, the PA that we’re using this year stands head and shoulders above the rest. Outline GTO boxes and accompanying C-12, Mantas 28 and LAB 21 subs more than have the goods for the dynamic show that we put on. There’s a very small learning curve to carrying over an existing show file to this PA, but it is WELL worth a listen. I’m sold on it. 102db-A (at FOH, 170 feet from the stage) with all that headroom, clarity beyond belief and a stereo image that is unrivalled make this the PERFECT system for this Luke Combs stadium tour.”