Leo roars into Dubai
Meyer Sound’s Leo is the latest in the new generation of large format line arrays to be available in the Middle East. James Ling examines DWTC’s flagship purchase...
Since its launch towards the end of 2012, it is fair to say that Meyer Sound’s large-scale linear sound reinforcement system – Leo – has generated quite a following. The system has been put to use by headline acts and major festivals in a number of important geographies around the world. And with Leo now appearing on an increasing number of riders, many rental companies have chosen to invest.
However, while the manufacturer’s flagship system has proven itself around the world, until recently it was yet to make its debut in the Middle East. This has now changed with the recent purchase by EventServ, the events services division of the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) and its subsequent use for a number of high-profile events including the Dubai Music Week concerts.
The solution purchased by DWTC is described as its ‘flagship audio system’. It includes 24 of the main Leo-M speakers, 18 of the 1100LFC low frequency cabinets and eight Mica elements which can be used as downfills for the system. The events services division also invested in a Galileo 616 loud speaker management system as well as two of the new Leo-M optimised Callisto 616 array processors and all the necessary rigging hardware and accessories.
For DWTC’s manager - technical production, Ashley Rodrigues, the decision to invest in Leo was an easy choice. ‘I have previously been associated with using Meyer Sound products for over a decade, and being a passionate audio engineer myself, I have always been associated with the high quality products available to the industry in all areas of an audio system,’ he explains. ‘The high standards of engineering excellence are evident in Leo’s products. Its high reliability, progressive R&D and highly successful innovations and design have, time and again, cemented my faith in the products’ capabilities.
‘With the other systems in the market, I was always looking for a system that was futuristic and scalable with an internationally credible reputation,’ continues Mr Rodrigues. ‘From the outset of its release, its immediate popularity had top engineers benchmarking it as the future for other system manufactures to follow. Highly credited reviews from industry stalwarts backed by continuous major festival successes are definitely promising.’
Of course, a good reputation is important, but an investment of this scale also needs to be technically appealing. As such, one of the major factors that influenced the decision to invest was the linear nature of Leo. ‘Meyer Sound’s roll out of the Leo-M linear line array speaker system has begun defining the future standards in linear sound, which to date have been the dream of every audio engineer and manufacturer,’ smiles Mr Rodrigues. ‘The reviews from all the various famous acts worldwide which have used the system and their engineers are testimonials of the products’ capabilities. I have always wished for a linear system, and now that it’s on board, it is our pride in being the first company in the Middle East to own one.’
This factor is also important for the manufacturer as it strives to build the Leo rental network. ‘Production and rental companies choose Meyer Sound because of our systems’ linear quality, meaning they can expect a Leo system in the US to have all the same exceptional capabilities and sound quality as a system rented in Europe, China, or Dubai,’ states Mauricio Saint Martin, director of Middle East sales for Meyer Sound. ‘And these customers need to know that our systems are available to sub-rent around the world. For this reason, having Leo in strategic locations like Dubai is key to our success and gives a great advantage to these productions.’
For Mr Rodrigues, these advantages are clear. ‘Leo is the only speaker system that provides linear sound with very high SPL in a smaller footprint,’ he explains. ‘The headroom available is serious. On account of this long throw capability, in most cases the use of delay towers is needless. The system alignment and tweaking tools available are state-of-the-art. The system response without any tweaks is linear by itself, and this is a positive feature since a lot of time is saved in system alignment. It is a pleasure to mix down a live band performing in a minimal amount of time.’
While it is important for a new system to be the right technical fit for a rental house, it also needs to make good business sense too. To this end, Mr Rodrigues is certain there will be a demand for Leo in the Middle East. ‘In most cases, it is the band riders that suggest the preferred audio system, and within a short time of its launch, the Leo-M large format loudspeaker array has made huge strides in the international domain,’ he explains. ‘DWTC has always been progressive and innovative in all aspects of its services. We have major acts always coming over to the Middle East, such as at Dubai Music Week where Quincy Jones, Will.I.Am, Timbaland and Selena Gomez all performed. We are definitely a major player in organising, hosting and production of these events, and are now capable of managing the requirements of these international acts.’
This is an important factor for the event services division, as it now means it can expand its remit and look to work on concerts outside the DWTC. ‘We have a sizeable amount of events taking place every year at our venue which we cater to. With a large format speaker system like the Leo-M, we will be catering to external events too. This will definitely increase our revenue generation capability,’ confirms Mr Rodrigues. ‘This system’s fast growing reputation all over the world will enable us to pitch for larger events, such as outdoor concerts, festivals and large public address opportunities, in turn increasing our revenue potential.’
There seems to be a definite plan in place for DWTC to generate a return on its Leo investment, and Mr Saint Martin can equally see the business potential in the region for the manufacturer. ‘There are more and more A-list artists adding Middle East countries to their schedule. The Dubai Music Week programme is a perfect example,’ he smiles. ‘This development is definitely playing a major part in the Middle East market potential for Meyer Sound products.’
Clearly, a large amount of this business plan is based on the reputation of the equipment, as well as that of the engineers using it. The manufacturer has certainly paid heed to this, and as such, provides comprehensive training with every Leo purchase to ensure its current reputation is maintained.
‘Education is an important aspect in the Meyer Sound philosophy, as we believe operators’ level of expertise is key to the ultimate audience experience,’ explains Mr Saint Martin. ‘For this reason, our technical team offers product training with every Leo system we ship. This is an important reason why our customers choose Meyer Sound, as we offer the full package, from the high-quality loudspeaker, acoustic prediction, and signal processing tools to our technical expertise and service.’
‘Being an existing Meyer Sound system user, we have been familiar with the use of their existing products pertaining to the Leo-M specifics including system design and configuration, system alignment, simulation predictions and hardware skills involving system rigging and safety practices,’ adds Mr Rodrigues. ‘I have been associated with Meyer Sound not only with the use of their products, but also with their education programme. The immense knowledge gained from their highly trained engineers is an influence which carves out a strong engineering sense towards understanding system design and quality of the product. The local support along with their Berkeley headquarters is round the clock and both have been constantly supportive.’
The cumulative effect of all these factors has clearly made Mr Rodrigues extremely happy with DWTC’s purchase, and the proof is in the listening. The system has been put to use on a number of events such as Cirque Eloize, as well as Indian and Persian concerts at the World Trade Centre, not to mention the headline performances at Dubai Music Week, and there is a clear satisfaction with the results.
‘It has performed beyond our expectations,’ smiles Mr Rodrigues. ‘Being in the audio business as a mix and system engineer for over 22 years, it has opened up a Pandora’s box, defying the extremities of the laws of physics and excellence.’ This is certainly high praise to add into the wealth of positive opinions already voiced about Leo.
While there is no shortage of large format line arrays available for hire in the Middle East, the addition of a further option should be seen as positive for the region. The purchase has been made to meet a definite demand and should help to improve production standards and competition within the market as a whole.
DWTC clearly has high hopes for what it can achieve with its new system, and other companies across the region will certainly take note. It is highly doubtful that this will remain the only Leo system in the region.