AthFest Enlists Peavey Versarray For 10th Anniversary
ATHENS, Ga.—Finding adventurous local music in Athens is about as easy as finding yourself in an afternoon thundershower during the humid Southern summer. For the thousands who found both at AthFest 2006, the outdoor debut of the Peavey Versarray sound system helped raise spirits as it showcased the city's diverse, homegrown musicians and groups. 'The Versarray is the best sound system we have ever had for our festival,' said Jared Bailey, AthFest Director. 'I was amazed at how clear and clean the performers sounded, and it's so much more compact and easier to set up than traditional sound systems-that saved us a lot of time and labor.'Peavey, a major AthFest sponsor almost since its inception, hosted 187 bands from the city's seemingly bottomless talent pool—including headliners Modern Skirts, Now It's Overhead and Drivin 'n' Cryin—at multiple stages and clubs in downtown Athens during the 10th anniversary of AthFest. While plenty of Peavey and Crest Audio sound equipment past and present supported the event across the city, the main Outdoor Stage showcased the new Peavey Versarray system.Longtime Peavey live audio guru Marty McCann and a staff of Peavey experts made the annual trip to Athens with the new Versarray, Peavey VSX loudspeaker management systems, a 48-channel Crest Audio mixing console and Crest Audio Pro 200 power amplifiers. Front-of-house engineer Ric Wallace, a veteran of nearly 30 years, manned the boards for the stable of indie rock, rap and pop performers during the three-day festival.'The system's performance was very consistent between so many diverse groups,' said Wallace. 'We had acoustic performers mixed in with everything from punk rock to modern pop music, and I didn't really have to touch the graphs for any corrective EQ'ing. I had plenty of gain before feedback, especially when punching up the mids and low-mids in acoustic instruments.'The crew flew eight dual ribbon driver-loaded Versarray 112 enclosures with 90° H x 15° V coverage per side from two lift towers, with two Versarray 218 subwoofers on each side and another four Versarray 218s in the center. Crest Audio Pro 5200 amps provided power to the ribbon drivers on each Versarray 112, while Pro 9200 models handled their 12' Neo Black Widow woofers. Additional Pro 9200 amps were applied to each Versarray 218 subwoofer.'With just 1.5 dB SPL difference between the downstage edge and 100 feet away, the Versarray allowed me to achieve very even coverage throughout the listening area,' said Wallace. 'The Versarray is very smooth and devoid of the problems and harshness associated with high-frequency compression drivers. The true ribbon drivers give the system a very warm, musical sound with really punchy vocals.'McCann and Wallace aligned and controlled the Versarray system through VSX 26 digital loudspeaker managers. Using the Versarray Project Eight factory preset as the crossover and processing foundation, they slightly altered the delay settings to align the subwoofers and enclosures to the backline. This made the sound system even more transparent by positioning the sound to arrive at the listener's ears as a coherent reinforcement of the actual sound from the stage.The four stage-centered 218 subwoofers—each controlled by a VSX 26 and driven through the console's dedicated aux sends—contained a mix of the kick drum, floor tom, bass guitar and other sources with significant output below 80 Hz. Two Versarray 218 subwoofers per side were employed from 60 Hz to 200 Hz without bass lift to fill and overlap the four aux-driven subs. 'The beauty of employing separate aux-driven subs is that the mix engineer can emphasize the low end when needed without muddying up the vocals or other instruments, ' McCann noted.With the VSX processor's USB-accessible GUI, live audio engineers can configure the loudspeaker system from a laptop and save it as a preset, then tweak the system with options like configurable symmetrical and asymmetrical crossovers, an any-input to any-output structure and a host of assignable filters, compressors and EQ. New VSX features and loudspeaker presets such as the one used at AthFest are available for download at Peavey.com.The Versarray 112 ribbon-driver line array utilizes a high-performance, lightweight 12' Neo Black Widow woofer featuring a 4' voice coil with a neodymium magnet structure in a 13-ply Baltic birch enclosure. The Versarray 112 offers extreme versatility and performance in modular coverage of small- to medium-sized venues (10,000 capacity), and is intended for use with Versarray 118 or 218 subs, two vented subwoofers incorporating Peavey's ultra-high power Lo Max 18' woofer into a 13-ply Baltic birch cabinet. The Versarray utilizes a unique, flexible design that allows easy, bracket-and-pin adjustment from 0 to 15 degrees and numerous flying, mounting and stacking options.Peavey offers an optional mounting pole for the Versarray 118 subwoofer that can support a two-box array, while the 218 subwoofer has an optional ground-stacking kit that will support up to four modules and allow for full articulation. In addition, a crankable tower lift co-designed with Vermette can elevate up to six modules 13 feet above a 218 sub, then fold down for easy transport and storage. The Versarray 218 model features the patented UniVent venting system, which uses an exclusive process to literally pump air through the enclosure, maintaining cool operating temperatures, increasing reliability and reducing power compression under heavy continuous-drive conditions.