Estefan Says 'Thanks' by Headlining Home-Town Party
Audio Media - December, 1997
Just over twenty years ago, Miami's Y-100 radio went out on a limb. The program director of this mainstream pop station started airing records by a band called Miami Sound Machine on a hunch that this particular band-the vivacious lead vocalist in particular-might have appeal beyond the local Latin music market. That hunch was dead on target. The band broke big, and Gloria Estefan has risen to the top ranks of the world's pop music divas. But despite recent superstardom, Gloria (and husband/musical director Emilio) never forgot the radio station that boosted them into the pop charts. So when Y100's 24th birthday bash rolled around on September 20, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine agreed to headline the party. Filling out the bill were Jon Secada, Real McCoy, No Mercy and Robyn.
The party was booked into the Miami Arena, perhaps best known as the home of the Miami Heat basketball team. Ray Steinman, a regional concert promoter based in South Florida, was called in to produce the event. Steinman in turn booked RTA Production Services of Tampa to bring in their all-Meyer sound system.
"These one-off shows are very difficult to execute in and of themselves," says Steinman. "You don't have the planning and rehearsal time that goes into a touring show. You're throwing on multiple bands and doing set changes on the fly. But I knew RTA could handle it because I had worked a two day hard-rock festival with them in April which featured the live reunion of Motley Crue. Based on RTA's excellent performance there, I decided to give them another shot." Since the show was a certain sellout, the staging was set up for a 360-degree show to allow seating of over 13,000. "I had worked this arena several times before," says RTA owner Tom Ward "It has its trouble spots. It's a very tall room, and the throw from the stage to the top seats in the back has to be over 250 feet. For previous shows I had to use delay speakers to get clear intelligibility all the way at the back." Of course hanging delay speakers always means extra time and hassle, along with the safety issues of flying over the audience. So in this case, Ward decided to try another approach.
"Back in August I had an opportunity to hear a demonstration of the new Meyer MSL-6 long-throw system at Disney in Orlando," Ward recalls. "They had a shootout to evaluate speakers for a new attraction, and the MSL-6's stomped everything. They had spectacular fullness and clarity at considerable distances." The MSL-6 is a self-powered system incorporating three high frequency horns (2" throat and 4" diaphragm), two 12" horn-loaded midrange drivers, integrated control electronics and four power amplifiers with 2480W total output. Dispersion pattern is given by Meyer as 25 degrees vertical by 30 degrees horizontal. The brand-new MSL-6's were in short supply, but Ward arranged for a special loan of a dozen units from Spectrum Sound in Nashville. These were added to the balance of RTA's flown Meyer rig, consisting of 36 MSL-3A's and four UPA-1's (powered by QSC amps), four CQ self-powered systems, and 28 PSW-4 self-powered subwoofers. Two dozen 650-P self-powered subs were put on the deck. Before performance the system received SIM® alignment from Rick Shimer of Nashville's Blackhawk Audio. The resulting sound seemed to impress everybody involved. "I've been involved with hundreds of productions at that arena," commented producer Steinman, "and despite the problems of a one-off production it was easily in top third of the best-sounding shows I've heard there."
Ward was particularly pleased at the ability of the new MSL-6's to maintain clarity and generate high SPLs at the back of the hall. "We were pushing 115dB at the mix position near the back of the floor, but we had plenty of gas left to go." RTA brought in a trio of Yamaha PM4000 consoles to handle front of house mixing. Gloria Estefan used a specially modified (for lighter weight) Samson wireless with Audix OM-6 capsule, and the effects rack for her set included six channels of Focusrite Red tube compressors, two t.c. electronic M5000 units, three PCM-80 digital multieffects, a Lexicon 480 reverb, and 26 channels of Drawmer gates. The monitor system again consisted of all Meyer speakers (UM-1 wedges, PSW-2 subwoofers among others), with Estefan using a Future Sonics in-ear system. Monitor consoles were Yamaha PM-4000M for Estefan and Ramsa SX-1 and S840 for supporting acts.
According to Ward, Acoutech of Hollywood, Florida was instrumental in providing crucial last-minute support in getting the system up and running. "Everyone had a great time," says Ward, "and the only thing I can't figure out is why the station went all-out this year for their 24th birthday. I don't see how they can top it next year for their 25th!"