Panther Paying Green Dividends On Global Concerts
Meyer Sound systems help cut GHG emissions on Sheeran and Bublé tours.
With its compact size, high power-to-weight ratio, and exceptional energy efficiency, Meyer Sound’s Panther large-format linear line array loudspeaker is reaping savings in both operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions in its first year of global touring. Two notable examples are Ed Sheeran’s ‘+ – = ÷ x’ (Mathematics) Tour and Michael Bublé’s ‘Higher Tour’.
The massive in-the-round system for Ed Sheeran’s tour, supplied by Major Tom, Ltd. and configured for large stadiums and festival grounds, is anchored by 212 Panther line array loudspeakers. “Compared to our prior tour’s loudspeakers, we have reduced what would have been five trucks down to three,” says Chris Marsh, production director, and FOH engineer for the tour. “That’s significant as I estimate we covered 7,000 miles around Europe, another 2,800 in Australia, and we have yet to start in North America.”
In their 2021 publication ‘Super-Low Carbon Live Music’, the UK-based Tyndall Centre highlighted how important surface transport is as a contributor to a tour’s carbon footprint. A typical diesel semi-truck consumes a gallon of fuel every 6.5 miles and each gallon emits 22.44 pounds of carbon content according to the US EPA. That means a single truck covering 10,000 miles would generate a carbon footprint of 17.3 US tons or 15.7 metric tons.
Ocean shipping, though more efficient than air, also has a carbon cost. Ocean containers also were cut from five to three on the Sheeran tour, and the reduced weight of Panther had an added bonus. “Because Panther is so light we were able to fit the steel staging ballast plates in the same containers to take weight up to the maximum permissible,” notes Marsh.
Configured primarily for A-level arenas, the system for Michael Bublé’s Higher Tour, provided by Solotech, relies on a complement of 76 Panther loudspeakers for the lion’s share of output power on both the main system and the unique mid-arena cluster that functions as both a massive delay system and as an in-the-round system when Bublé takes the B stage.
“All the speakers for the current PA fit into one truck,” says FOH engineer Craig Doubet. “We’re easily down a half truck from where we were before. And we had the same reduction in containers when we shipped from North America to Europe. It’s clear that Meyer Sound is taking the monetary costs and carbon emissions seriously.”
A Panther loudspeaker produces a maximum acoustic output of 150dB SPL yet weighs only 68kg. The compact dimensions — 969mm wide, by 377mm high, by 565mm deep — allow an efficient truck pack in both North American and European semi-trailers, while self-powered technology eliminates the need for amplifier racks. Since the amplifiers are contained in the loudspeakers, this further reduces the footprint for trucking. Power draw is also reduced by 20% compared to prior comparable loudspeakers.
The same ‘green dividends’ inherent in the Panther line array loudspeaker will soon be augmented with the addition of the 2100-LFC low-frequency control element, slated for shipping in mid-2023.
Attaining the ambitious goals for size, weight, and power draw reductions without sacrificing performance required hard work and innovation by the Meyer Sound engineering team, led by Engineering Director, Acoustical and Mechanical Katharine ‘Katie’ Murphy Khulusi. The team followed a holistic approach, with transducers, cabinet design, materials, electronics, and rigging meticulously coordinated to meet the objectives.
“When gathering input on the next generation of products, many of our customers mentioned that green issues were becoming more relevant,” says Meyer Sound Senior Product Manager Andy Davies. “These requests aligned with new research on the environmental impact of live productions. Also, going green is also good for business. Reducing power use, trucking costs, and raw materials all align with moving towards a greener economy, more efficient manufacturing, and better business solutions for our customers.”
Global acceptance of Panther has exceeded company forecasts. During its inaugural year, Meyer Sound Panther line arrays also powered UltraSound LLC tours including Dead & Company, Dave Matthews Band, and Ghost, along with the POOLgroup-supplied Volbeat tour, as well as main stages at festivals across the USA and in Europe. “Sustainability is finally becoming a concern for most of the organisations we work with,” concludes Chris Marsh. “It is the task of the production teams, the suppliers, and the manufacturers to develop solutions that will result in more efficient shows. Whilst we have a long way to go, we already are making great progress with the addition of Panther to our inventory.”
Meyer Sound’s commitment to the environment extends beyond product design to encompass all phases of the business, with careful attention to energy efficiency, water conservation, and materials recycling throughout the manufacturing process. The Berkeley-based company has been recognised as a Green Business by the California Green Business Network since 2016.
“Meyer Sound has worked hard for more than four decades to become one of the most successful companies in professional audio,” says Senior Vice President John McMahon. “But we believe that this success carries with it an obligation to be a good global citizen. There is still more work to be done, but we will continue to make environmental responsibility a significant focus of all our activities going forward.”