Located in Mt. Crawford in west central Virginia, Southard Audio is a regional sound company that, during its 30-plus years in business, has made the move from local events to large arena-sized shows. Two major initiatives have powered this expansion: a long-term cooperative partnership with Richmond-based Soundworks, and a mutual reliance on Turbosound Flex Array loudspeakers.
“Our relationship with Turbosound goes back more than 20 years,” notes founder and president Mike Southard. “When it was time to expand into a line array system, it was easy to see the benefits of the Flex Array. It’s a great-sounding PA, very loud for its footprint, with easy and straightforward rigging – a perfect complement to our existing inventory.
That system was put to the test at a recent 11,000 seat show featuring Snoop Dogg at the Coliseum of West Virginia University. Advance work and on site operations for this event were handled by Southard Audio partner Jason Misterka. “This was our first arena event for the school, and it was the largest concert audience the school had seen at this venue,” recounts Misterka. “As you can well imagine, an arena event with a national hip-hop act requires a substantial amount of horsepower. We ran the prediction software and were pretty amazed at the numbers, and during the show we had all the level we needed - quite a feat for a mid-sized line array.”
Photo: Southard Audio’s setup and final deployment of Turbosound Flex Arrays
and subwoofers for Snoop Dogg concert at WVU Coliseum,
West Virginia University in Morgantown.
The main FOH PA for the show was two speaker arrays comprised of 13 Flex Array boxes each. Five TFA600-H boxes topped each array to handle the long throw duties, complemented by the wider dispersion of eight TFA600-HW speakers beneath. Subwoofers, probably the most critical element of the sound signature required by Snoop Dogg, were Turbosound TSW721, a single-driver, 21-inch horn-loaded design. A total of 24 subs were set up as a delay arc, with six stacks of four subs spread across the front of the stage.
“The delay arc sub array is a key element. You lose a little of the overall energy, which is why we used so many enclosures,” Southard explains. “But it gives you a much more even distribution of bass information throughout the venue and virtually eliminatesthe “power alley.” This way audience members on the extreme edges of coverage still hear a balanced, musical sound.”
Turbosound also played a vital role on stage, with a mix of ground-stacked Aspect 880 loudspeakers providing sidefills, augmented by eight more TSW721s for bass. “It was amazing, really,” says Southard. “When I look at how we use these speakers on our other jobs, the sidefill system was basically a PA system that would be sufficient for FOH for a 1500-seat room under normal circumstances.”
“We had to satisfy the touring engineers in terms of volume, coverage and bass, and the WVU Coliseum was a real challenge,” Southard recalls. “It’s a very lively room, and the very defined coverage of the Flex Array helped keep energy off the reflective surfaces, which was a big advantage. At the end of a long day, I’m happy to say that everyone went home happy.”
With a long history of success using Turbosound, it’s no surprise that Southard Audio is planning to expand its commitment. The company’s current inventory includes 16 Flex Array boxes (half TFA600H, half TFA600-HW), 22 Aspect TA-880s, 24 TSW721 subs, and 8 TSW218 subs. Southard’s current plan is to add 16 more of the TFA600-HW wide throw boxes and 12 more TSW218 subs in the future.
Southard has a deep appreciation of the flexibility that his Turbosound inventory affords him. Being outside any major urban center means that Southard Audio must be prepared for anything. In a typical year, the company provides production for a wide range of events, including outdoor music festivals, county fairs, spoken word events like graduations and convocations, corporate and worship events, and, increasingly, major concerts in large venues.
“Working in partnership with Soundworks in Richmond is a key part of our success,” concludes Southard. “Since we’re about two hours apart, it makes more sense to cooperate rather than compete. We combine our inventories as needed and make sure our amp racks are wired compatibly, which greatly extends both our capabilities. Steve Payne and I consult with each other on major purchases and try to have mutually compatible inventory. In fact, Soundworks owned the Flex Array system that I auditioned before buying my own. This way, both companies can do larger events than we could do separately. It’s a great arrangement.”