This season the Donny and Marie Christmas tour brought the Osmonds’ family-friendly blend of music, dancing, comedy and entertainment to audiences across the US. The 15-city arena tour featured the Osmonds performing holiday music, hit songs and more—even mixing in classic clips from 1970s holiday TV broadcasts that hadn’t been seen in decades. The all-out entertainment extravaganza delivered with the help of a HARMAN JBL VTX Series line array audio system provided by Livonia, Michigan-based Thunder Audio.
“Donny and Marie are known for their spectacular production values, musical variety, costume changes and unstoppable energy and the Donny and Marie Christmas Tour was no exception,” said Greg Snyder, Business Development Manager for Thunder Audio and project engineer for the tour. “They want to make sure every single person in the audience feels like they’re an intimate part of the show, even if they’re at the back of a 20,000-seat arena. That’s why we used the JBL VTX line arrays for sound reinforcement on the tour—more than 75 of them including tops and subs.”Two main left and right hangs of 14 V25 fullsize line array elements were flown per side, along with two outfill hangs of nine V25 elements per side, two side fill clusters of two V25 elements per side, six S28 subwoofers hung at each end of the stage and a center cluster of four V25 elements. On the ground, six S28 subwoofers per side and four JBL VERTEC® VT4888 midsize line array elements up front provided additional low end and center fill.
The loudspeakers were powered by 72 Crown I-Tech HD 12000 amplifiers housed in proprietary Thunder Audio rack systems. JBL HiQnet Performance Manager was used for system control, with JBL’s Line Array Calculator II employed for loudspeaker setup. All the shows were recorded by FOH engineer Lucas “Rico” Corrubia using a Soundcraft Vi6 digital mixing console.
The sound crew for the show included monitor engineer Joe Webster, Thunder Audio’s FOH systems engineer Johnathon Winkler, monitor systems engineer Ron Hurd and fly tech and stage patch technician Paul Villarreal. “As one of the first sound companies to purchase JBL VTX Series line arrays, we’ve gotten to know what they can do in an arena setting in every respect,” Snyder pointed out.
“This rig is phenomenal, Paul Bauman and the JBL team did a great job designing VTX,” Corrubia noted. “It has so much horsepower, it can go for days.”
Systems engineer Jon Winkler is well versed in the operation and deployment of this system and in using Performance Manager and the JBL Line Array Calculator II to optimize its performance. “Jon has a very keen ear and he was really the key to fine-tuning the system to the ‘nth’ degree,” Snyder added.
“To me, the definition of a good loudspeaker is when the sound of the box itself disappears—that you almost forget you’re even listening to a loudspeaker,” Corrubia added. “That really started to happen with the VTX system as we got a sense of tuning it. We could go anywhere in any arena and it would still sound crystal-clear and transparent.”
Snyder noted that even though the Donny And Marie Christmas Tour played in large arenas, the show felt more up close and personal, thanks in large part to the clarity and smooth, focused coverage of the VTX line arrays even over larger distances. “Donny and Marie are two of the warmest and most inviting performers around and we wanted to make sure that audiences were drawn into the more intimate parts of the show like their quieter solo numbers, yet dazzled by the energy of the all-out production numbers,” he said. “The JBL VTX line arrays are as unstoppable as Donny and Marie when everyone’s singing, playing and dancing their hearts out.”
Corrubia echoed this sentiment. “Donny and Marie have so much variety in their shows, going from rock and roll to Broadway and opera, that you need a system to handle that versatility,” he said. “VTX did an incredible job.”