How Meyer Sound Helped Reimagine Montreux Jazz Festival

The Montreux Jazz Festival is currently in the middle of its 55th edition, running from July 2-17 in a reimagined format to accommodate health and safety guidelines. And despite the changes, many of the performers’ FOH engineers have hailed its Meyer Sound set-up as the best they have experienced yet, production manager Marco Güntensperger tells Headliner.

This year sees Meyer Sound return for its 35th year as strategic partner and official sound provider for the Swiss festival. Scaled back with fewer venues and lower capacities due to the pandemic, the principal venue has moved outdoors to the picturesque shoreline of Lake Geneva.

“Festival management took an early decision to hold the festival at a very reduced format given the restrictions announced back in early Spring,” Güntensperger told Headliner. “Swiss government communicated the road map of re-opening early enough for us to plan ahead. Due to the fragile situation in regard to indoor concerts, we decided to create a new outdoor location in close proximity to the 2m2c Music and Convention Centre. Based on the experience we’ve had building other partner platforms onto the lake, the Lake Stage concept started off.

“It was great to again collaborate with our long-time partner, Meyer Sound. Their team was instrumental in finding the best audio solutions, such as at the new Lake Stage, to ensure a great experience for artists and fans alike.”

The Meyer Sound system at the Lake Stage is centred around LEOPARD line arrays, with bass support from 900-LFC low-frequency control elements. ULTRA-X40 and ULTRA-X20 — Meyer Sound’s newest point source loudspeakers — have been specified to cover the outer seating terraces.

With seating for 500 and hosting most of this year’s headline acts, including Camélia Jordana, Zucchero, Woodkid, and Ibrahim Maalouf, the Lake Stage presented numerous technical challenges for the production team.

“A stage built entirely on the water does bring the obvious challenges: static engineering, wind and rain exposure, plus lighting,” Güntensperger explained. “As an additional element, 24/7 health and safety rules need to be followed, including a custom made windspeed control unit and alarm system etc. in case of heavy thunderstorms, as it can get very rough fast at our location.

“Furthermore, truck deliveries are a challenge since we need to bring them directly on the narrow Quai Jaccoud to our loading ramp. It’s a fairly long push for cases given (app. 60m).”

Over 160 Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers and MJF Series stage monitors are deployed across the festival’s four venues. The second venue, the Petit Theatre, seats 300 and features Meyer Sound LINA line arrays, augmented by 1100-LFC and 750-LFC low-frequency control elements with ULTRA-X40 loudspeakers for fill systems.

Having a partner like Meyer Sound has helped us focus on the challenges we had this year. Martin Reich, audioconsulting ag

Meanwhile, The Grand Hall is equipped with ULTRA-X40 loudspeakers and 750-LFC elements for the main room, with ULTRA-X20 loudspeakers covering the outer corridor, and the outdoor stage at the Palace Gardens, which accommodates up to 300 for impromptu acoustic showcases, featured UPA-1P and UPJunior loudspeakers with 750-LFC elements and 500-HP subwoofers for low-frequency support.

Audio systems were supplied by Skynight SA under the direction of Nicolas Walser with on-site project management by Goran Pajic. Additional assistance was provided by Eddy Broquet of Meyer Sound’s Swiss distributor, Tonspur.

According to Güntensperger, the systems have so far delivered on all fronts.

“So far the system has delivered the high quality audio we are used to, thanks to a once again dedicated Meyer Sound audio team,” he said. “Due to the straight opposite seating location for audience with a distance of approximately 18-30m to the main PA line (Lake Stage), audio quality has been top notch.

“The FOH sound operators from numerous artists all praised the quality with some of them saying that this was by far the best set-up they’ve experienced. Feedback received from both audience and partners are identical. Everybody so far was extremely happy about the high-end audio quality provided.”

“Having a partner like Meyer Sound for so many years has helped us focus on the new challenges we had this year,” added Martin Reich of audioconsulting ag, the festival’s sound coordinator. “We never had to worry about technical issues. Meyer Sound is always at hand, ready to help with whatever we think would add to audience satisfaction.

“We haven’t been able to gather together for nearly two years now, so it is a warm welcome for everybody arriving on site. It’s important to give people hope, to prove that the industry is alive, it has survived, and it will come back stronger and bolder than ever.”

“It feels great to be out doing live music again,” José Gaudin, a Meyer Sound technical support specialist who also has mixed FOH for the festival since 2007, concluded. “The new Lake Stage is very impressive. When the sun sets over the lake with the concert going, it is an unbelievable experience. It was a challenge moving outside, but it was well worth the effort.

“The festival is like a family and getting back together is like a family reunion after a very difficult time.”