New sound system backs country music’s new talent
More than the allure of Platinum records, gated estates or induction in the Country Music Hall of Fame two blocks away, the true barometer of success in country music is getting your snapshot on Tootsie’s Wall of Fame.
Despite its down-home honky tonk vibe, the walls of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in Nashville hosts an elite bunch. Since 1920, this Broadway watering hole has launched countless careers in country music, helping many of the struggling musicians pictured on its walls blossom into perennial favorites.
Kris Kristofferson, Hank Cochran, Mel Tillis, Roger Miller, Waylon Jennings and Patsy Cline all frequented the shotgun-style saloon during their lean years. Willie Nelson won his first songwriting job after singing on its stage. And landing a gig at Tootsie’s remains a rite of passage for writers, pickers and performers who make the pilgrimage to Music City today.
Now Peavey—another Nashville fixture with roots dating back to endorsements from Merle Haggard and Conway Twitty—is backing country-music hopefuls in addition to the 200 or so local session pros and stars who endorse its musical equipment. That’s because Tootsie’s star-making stage now boasts an impressive pro audio system from Peavey and Crest Audio.
But Peavey is no stranger to the Tootsie’s stage. In fact, when audio consultant Kent Morris showed up with a truck full of new Peavey QW(R) loudspeaker enclosures and GPS(R) power amplifiers for the main room, front-of-house engineer Bobby Phillips directed him to a rack containing a few familiar relics.
“The old system was a pair of 450-watt Peavey Black Widow(R) 18″ subs,” said Phillips, “those original speakers from the 1970s.” A stack of 20-year-old Peavey CS(R) 800 and 1000 amps were also part of the old guard at Tootsie’s stage, an 18′ W x 20′ D platform positioned in front of a 25′ x 25′ seating space.
At the heart of the new system is a 24-channel Crest Audio HP-Eight(TM) mixing console. Phillips said that regardless of the number of performers on stage, he is able to accommodate them with this single console for both mains and monitors.
“I’m running five monitor mixes—one set of in-ears and four wedges—and I typically run 16-20 channels depending on the size of the act,” he said.
The eight-bus HP-Eight console’s Fader Flip function is central to his streamlined approach. Phillips can see the levels going to the stage by simply pressing a button that sends the Aux masters to 100 mm faders in place of groups and L/R.
“With Fader Flip, instead of using the Aux send [for monitors], I can flip it down to the faders on the groups and actually get meter readings on my monitor sends. It’s a wonderful thing.”
A complement of ten Peavey GPS(R) (Global Power Series) amplifiers deliver the signal to two sets of QW loudspeakers and monitors. At both stage left and stage right, a GPS 900 powers the high end of a QW 1, while a GPS 2600 powers the mids. Two GPS 3500 amps drive a QW 215 and 218 subwoofer each. Monitors are QW ML and QW MR models pushed by GPS 1500s.
Phillips said he decided to use the QW Series enclosures because of Peavey’s patented Quadratic Throat Waveguide technology, which eliminates distortion caused by high sound-pressure levels. As Morris explains, audio originates at two different points within speakers having rectangular horns—such as 60° x 40° or 90° x 40°—because the vertical and horizontal axes are not aligned. The transition from driver to horn wall in these speakers is what causes distortion.
“What Quadratic Throat Waveguide(TM) technology does is introduce audio at a singular physical point within the speaker, so the transitions from driver to horn and horn to audience are smooth,” said Morris. “The shape allows the sound waves to travel at right angles to the horn walls and always transmit crisp, clear, faithful reproductions of the audio.”
Added Phillips, “The Peavey and Crest Audio system has been more than adequate in working with the caliber of talent at Tootsie’s.”