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Meyer Magic Enthralls Ed Sheeran’s Mathematics Concert In Mumbai

“Mumbai was our only Indian stop on our Middle East and Asia tour, and we brought our scaled in-the-round show with us. We were unable to carry everything with us due to restrictions in how much equipment we could freight between territories, and the PA system was one thing that we needed to source locally. Having PANTHER available in India ticked so many boxes! It is our system of choice; we know it so well and are confident of its abilities. And knowing that we could deploy this system meant that audio was not a concern at all. It also meant that we did not need to use delays which had formed part of other vendors’ designs. This was a financial saving, as well as one less logistical element to deal with” said Ed Sheeran’s Production Director Chris Marsh as he provided a brief behind-the-scenes insight into the sonic marvel that was + – = ÷ x (“Mathematics”) Tour concert took Mumbai and the Indian live entertainment scene by storm in March 2024.

Since its kickoff in Dublin back in April 2022, Ed Sheeran’s + – = ÷ x (“Mathematics”) Tour has touched down in more than 100 cities around the globe, dazzling millions of fans with a career-spanning one-man stadium show in the round. And following his triumphant Divide Tour in 2017, Sheeran returned to enthrall his Indian fanbase once again, this time at the iconic Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai. The monumental event was brought to fruition by BookMyShow Live, the live entertainment arm of BookMyShow, in collaboration with AEG Presents.

The event boasted a record-breaking attendance of over 55,000 enthusiastic fans, making it the largest live concert by a solo international performer in recent Indian history. The concert was not only a feast for the senses for Ed’s fans; but also, an audio-visual spectacle that any world-class performer would be simply amazed by as state-of-the-art production design, breathtaking stage detail and impeccably executed technical reinforcement, all came together in a seamless confluence to raise the bar for live entertainment.

Ingeniously crafted in a stadium-style setup, a first-of-its-kind mammoth 360° circular stage that rotated on its axis ensured an unparalleled view of Sheeran from every corner of the venue, while a giant circular ‘HALO screen’ positioned at the top-center of the stage further enhanced the visual experience. On the other hand, the audio amplification was taken to new heights with a monumental deployment of the globally acclaimed PANTHER & LEOPARD line array systems from Meyer Sound, strategically installed on an ultra-modern gigantic trussing arrangement to deliver a truly sublime sonic experience to the entire audience.

Arguably the largest deployment of a Meyer Sound system ever witnessed in India; the Mumbai leg of the Mathematics Tour delivered an unforgettable sonic experience thanks to collaboration between the tour production team, Major Tom, Meyer Sound, India-based distributor Sun Infonet, and equipment suppliers, Total Multimedia, Phoenix Networks, Friends of Shiva, and PP Sound. Sun Infonet’s tech team was led by Jeremy Rana, Kallol Nath, and Jayakaran B; Animesh Mishra of Phoenix Networks, Anuragg Jai of Total Multimedia, and Kyle Mukerjee of Friends of Shiva were also key collaborators.

The intricacies of coalescing a monumental audio production that could do justice to the visually grandiose allure and appeal conceived for the +-=÷x concert in Mumbai demanded a world-class level of attention to detail, precision, and expertise to ensure a flawless execution that would elevate the concert experience to unprecedented heights. And this is exactly what the audio team working on the concert managed to put into effective action.

“Trust me, bringing together the enchanting aural adventure for the +-=÷x concert had me and the team exploring the various complexities of mathematics and physics like never before!“ chuckled Animesh Mishra, Founder Director of Phoenix Networks, as he affirmed the production team’s decision to entrust him with the responsibility of spearheading the planning and commissioning of the audio architecture for the mega-concert turned out to be one of the most rewarding and fruitful experiences of his professional career.

Working in close collaboration with Ed Sheeran’s technical team that included the tour’s technical director and audio production head; the audio team meticulously planned the deployment of the colossal Meyer Sound system inventory with the objective of creating a 360-degree stereo sonic effect that seamlessly complemented the bespoke and breath-taking stage design. The audio plan, according to team Phoenix, not only accounted for the artist’s demands, but also took into consideration key factors such as the spread of the audience section, and variables such as the atmospheric conditions including heat, humidity and wind-speed among others – all of which would have a notable impact on the concert’s eventual sonic environment.

Speaking about how the audio team seamlessly integrated the comprehensive Meyer Sound system into the show’s setup, working out mapping and routing well in advance using MAPP 3D, Chris Marsh explained “MAPP 3D is an essential tool in getting the message across when agreeing on box counts and quantity of hangs. The visual aid and the universal language used in this software bridges any barrier, and it was easy for the local team to understand our design. Our task was made even simpler by Meyer Sound allowing us to borrow back our old systems engineer, Charlie Albin, who came and oversaw the installation with the local team”.

Sharing key details of the breath-taking main rig which formed the center-piece of the mammoth audio setup; Mishra noted that over 128 units of the PANTHER line array modules were strategically deployed in an arrangement that featured 2 array hangs of 16 units each suspended on each of the stage pillars, summing up to a whopping 32 units across 2 sets being suspended off of each pillar. Positioned at a height of 17 metres above the ground and inclined at a precise angle of 6° downwards, the main rig ensured optimal sound coverage and impact for audience members, even those situated at the farthest distances from the stage. And to further optimize the coverage pattern and ensure truly consistent and uniform sound dispersion, an additional array configuration was deployed, which comprised a total of 12 units of the 80° long-throw PANTHER line array modules at the top of the array and 4 units of the 110° wide-throw PANTHER line array modules at the bottom; with this strategic move being instituted in order to efficiently encompass both long and wide spans of the venue. Each of the modules within the array hang were meticulously tilted outward at an angle of 15° to minimize sonic hotspots within the audience area located near the stage and ensure linearity across the overall audience area.

Furthermore, the audio team guaranteed thunderously impactful bass resonance throughout the vast audience landscape, as they chose to deploy a uniquely designed gradient of 4 suspended arrays of subwoofers, with each array comprising 10 units of the 1100-LFC subwoofers, positioned at a height of 16.5 metres from the ground. The subwoofer hangs were complemented by an additional six ground-stacked and gradient subwoofer clusters that surrounded the magnificent 360° revolving stage, with each cluster comprising 3 units of the 1100-LFC subwoofers. While the ground-stacked subwoofer clusters offered a chest-thumping experience to the near-field audience, the suspended subwoofer arrays allowed the team to leverage the impressive throw of the 1100-LFCs to offer a similar high-quality low-fidelity experience for the far-field audience members as well.

“Rigging the system on a cantilever at significant heights and steep angles presented a unique set of hurdles. A comprehensive analysis using MAP3D software revealed an intricate set of requirements; primary of which was the fact that the system had to be rigged at a height of 17 metres with the rig point positioned at 22.7 metres, and a further need for the rigs to be angled downwards at 6°, and outwards at 15°. Plus, the fourth pillar that was to hold the PANTHER array on the cantilever had to be erected 4.22 metres outwards, with the second suspension point at exactly 3.25 metres and the pullback at 1.3 metres. Bear in mind that these precise measurements, right down to the T, were pivotal to achieving optimal coverage and dispersion, and eventually ensuring a consistent, pristine and immersive sonic experience throughout the venue” recounted Mishra as he detailed the nuances of the audio architecture for the concert.

Highlighting the innovative measures required to overcome the plethora of challenges, Mishra explained, “Additionally, ensuring the stability of the rigs amidst the rigors of the outdoor environment was equally essential, as increased wind pressure posed a significant risk of displacement”. This revealed that he and the team had to leverage their innate understanding of physics to suspend the loudspeaker rigs using hoists from three points. According to Mishra, this was the most practical solution to ensuring that the rigs would stay secured in place, as this strategic approach not only mitigated the risk of movement but also enhanced the stability of the hangs to an unprecedented degree.

Augmenting the main rig, a total of 22 units of LEOPARD line array modules were strategically positioned around the circular stage to serve as front fill reinforcement, while a further 16 units of LEOPARD line array modules were deployed as in-fill reinforcement in stacks of 2 units each at each pillar, wherein each pillar was flanked by 2 stacks of the LEOPARD modules positioned at a height of 1.6 metres from the ground to deliver an absolutely sublime sonic experience for audience members located closest to the stage.

With complexities being inherent in large-scale productions such as this particular concert; effective signal routing becomes paramount to achieving clarity, balance, and coherence in the overall sound output, mainly because a robust signal distribution management architecture not only enhances reliability and resilience while mitigating the risk of signal loss or degradation, but also safeguards the integrity of the audio system throughout the production. And armed with a thorough knowledge and understanding of this; Animesh explains that the audio team collectively chose to deploy a total of 12 units of the Meyer Sound Galileo GALAXY 816, all of which were strategically positioned to offer unparalleled flexibility in terms of signal routing options; with 2 units of the Galileo GALAXY allocated to each of the audio towers, while 3 units were stationed at the FOH console area. The signal routing was primarily managed through Luminex’ GigaCore 26i switchers which helped ensure truly seamless signal distribution with a defined backup source.

“The moment of truth for us was when the rehearsals finally came around – and that’s when we saw our hard work pay off! The feedback we received during rehearsals was overwhelmingly positive, as the flawless audio quality surpassed even our wildest dreams. It was just a testament to the kind of effort that went into bringing such a world-class experience together; and it was so gratifying to see just how successful our efforts were. From there on out, nobody had any doubts about the concert culminating in a massive success!” Mishra affirmed proudly.

Meyer Sound share in the pride of the definitively successful Mumbai-leg of the Mathematics Tour, as Scott Gledhill, Meyer Sound’s Director of International Sales excitedly exclaimed, “Ed Sheeran’s Mumbai show is a testament to seamless sound delivery, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the crew, Meyer Sound, and Sun Infonet. Continuing to set the standard for innovative live sound production — and making it happen around the world — is at the core of what we do, and our international partners are integral to that success.”

This summer, the “Mathematics” tour heads to Europe for 25 dates, returning to a full production of 14 PANTHER arrays to present awe-inspiring sound in the round. “PANTHER has performed perfectly for us for two years now,” concluded Marsh. “We have no intention of changing anything.”