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‘Every year the sound gets better’: Helen Meyer talks this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival

This year marked the US company’s 33rd consecutive year as the event’s Official Sound Provider

The 2019 Montreux Jazz Festival saw Meyer Sound debut its ULTRA-X40 system, with company co-founder Helen Meyer hailing this year’s event as one of the best-sound in its history.

For 33 consecutive years, Meyer Sound has served as the Montreux Jazz Festival’s Official Sound Provider, and as ever, co-founders John and Helen Meyer made the trip from the west coast of America the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva to monitor proceedings.

The firm’s LEO Family line arrays were flown in all three principal venues and scaled-down systems — two anchored by the new ULTRA-X40 point source loudspeaker —at the smaller venues. It was the first time the ULTRA-X40 had been deployed at a major festival.

“Every year we have the chance to bring our newest products here to Montreux,” said Helen Meyer, “so every year the sound gets a little better. The products we make are very focused, allowing us to create just the right sound to elevate the audience experience in any environment. And what we’ve heard about the ULTRA-X40 here so far is very gratifying.”

ULTRA-X40 systems served as the mains for two of the festival’s smaller venues,  La Coupole at the House of Jazz and Terrasse ibis MUSIC.

“With its very fine and precise resolution in the midrange and upper midrange, the ULTRA-X40 maintains exceptional intelligibility and allows for clear distinction of the various musical sources,” commented Mika DeRose, FOH engineer at Terrasse ibis MUSIC, a free lakeside venue featuring concerts and DJ sets.

La Coupole was the scene of an eclectic array of jam sessions, with participants including Janelle Monáe, Rag’n’Bone Man, Lizzo and Jon Batiste. Precise coverage control was a key factor due to the 1am to 5am time slot, according to FOH engineer Fanny Gaudin. “Adding ULTRA-X40 to the kit, with its extended frequency response and dynamic range coupled with a horizontal rigging option, allowed us to decrease the measured SPL by 5 dB compared to last year, yet eliciting even better audience response.”

The ULTRA-X40 also earned accolades for its supporting role as fill systems at Auditorium Stravinski and the Montreux Jazz Lab. The main system at Auditorium Stravinski, based on LYON line array loudspeakers, carried performances by Quincy Jones, Janet Jackson and Bon Iver while bidding a fond festival farewell to the retiring Joan Baez.

“In 2019, we had the privilege once again working with the Meyer LYON line array system at Auditorium Stravinski,” said festival production manager and production manager Auditorium Stravinski, Marco Güntensperger. “Given the wide range of artists with origins in very different genres, LYON proved to be the perfect match for MJF. The majority of touring acts come in with their own FOH sound engineers, and they were praising the precise set-up and dynamics of the system overall. No matter if it was Tom Jones or Chemical Brothers, the system proved to cover all types of sounds at its best. Cooperation with the Meyer Sound team was another privilege for our audio team at Stravinski. Pre-production works executed by Meyer Sound’s José Gaudin as well as Martin Reich were top-notch, so a very special ‘thank you’ to them. We are looking forward to next year’s edition already.”

Meyer Sound’s LEOPARD line array loudspeakers anchored a system deployed at the Montreux Jazz Lab for performances from Ibeyi, Koba LaD, JKJ, Rita Ora and several others. At the intimate Montreux Jazz Club, a smaller LINA line array system backed sets from Joe Jackson, Bobby McFerrin, Chilly Gonzales and many others.

Audio system inventory and logistical support were once again supplied by Skynight SA, a audiovisual technology provider with offices in Switzerland and France.

Meyer Sound also provided sound for the 2019 Roskilde Festival in Denmark, which you can read more on here.