Heavy metal legends Metallica recently kicked off their M72 World Tour, with a record breaking Meyer Sound system at its core featuring 288 PANTHER large-format line array loudspeakers.
The band’s M72 tour will see two concerts will be presented at every tour stop, with completely separate music sets for each show. The celebrated “snake pit” has been relocated inside a ring-shaped stage, requiring four drum kits for Lars Ulrich to rise up as needed. Also, the sonic field has been expanded to ensure a wide stereo spread of guitars and drums at every seat and standing point in the stadium.
“I’m always concerned about making all these new ideas work at scale,” said Metallica creative director Dan Braun, “but we have great partners to rely on, not the least of which is Meyer Sound. So, I never let things like practicality and logistics inhibit the creative process.”
Braun took his idea for the tour sound directly to company founders John and Helen Meyer, who assigned director of system optimization Bob McCarthy to design audio for the tour.
“I told Bob that my goal was to have full stereo sound at every point with no overlap, from the center pit to the nosebleed seats,” Braun continued. “We wanted everybody to hear the band as if with nearfield monitors, and I think we’ve come closer to that than ever before in a concert setting.”
Braun also credits the new PANTHER line array loudspeakers as a key component in realizing the ambitious concept.
“The clarity of the system is breath-taking, and that combined with Bob McCarthy’s brilliant design is giving us a show that sounds spectacular.”
Handling FOH for the tour is Greg Price, who commented: “We’re only a few shows into the tour and so far I’m very impressed. And I would have to say that I don’t think there is any other PA manufacturer in the world that could take on what we are trying to do on this tour.”
Price described the system as, “a PA system that acts like a reference monitor, like an Amie or a Bluehorn in the studio. I’m hearing things in my mixing that I always knew were there but lacked definition. Now they are right in my face, and I can work with them.”
The M72 tour system is deployed in three concentric rings. The outer ring arrays are suspended from eight towers, with two PANTHER arrays on each tower: 16 cabinets per array on the four long-side towers and 13 cabinets on the four short-side towers. Each tower also carries dual hangs of six-each 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements and one set of six VLFC very low-frequency control elements.
The inner system, suspended from a web over the stage, has eight hangs of seven-each PANTHER line array loudspeakers, providing stereo coverage out to 42 meters from center. The “doughnut hole” in the stage center is covered by eight inward-firing UPQ-D2 narrow coverage loudspeakers, while the outer side of the ring employs 20 ULTRA-X40 compact loudspeakers as front fill. Ground sub-bass is powered by eight sets of 2x 1100-LFC elements around the stage.
The tour also employs Meyer Sound’s Spacemap Go spatial sound design and mixing tool to a limited extent. As an intro to One the rumble and roar of a four-engine vintage bomber circles the stadium.
“We had some people outside wondering if there was a real plane flying around in the stadium,” said Price. “But Metallica is a straight-ahead band and not into trickery. The focus with spatial audio for Metallica is to enhance show content, remaining true to the band’s performance.”
The M72 World Tour is supported by Clair Global, with Price paying tribute to the company’s logistical resources and depth of expertise. “We salute Clair Global for their tremendous effort in building the M72 audio systems,” he said.
Metallica’s M72 World Tour launched on April 27 and is scheduled for two European legs and two North American legs, wrapping up on September 29 of 2024.