Funktion-One Vero VX Brings Dynamic Audio to Gem & Jam Festival 2024

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Bass is the defining frequency of Gem & Jam, a three day festival held in Tucson, Arizona, bursting with live bands and electronic music artists. Thanks to freelance system engineer Andrew Davidson and audio specialists Beware Productions, this year’s event - the 16th in its history - featured Funktion-One, finely-tuned for maximum audience engagement.

[Photo source/credit: Gem & Jam Festival on Facebook]

“I don't dance, I'm too embarrassed to,” says Andrew. “But when the PA is right I can't help but move. No other speaker gets me as excited as Funktion-One.”

Gem & Jam’s line up, brimming with established and emerging dance music talent, kept the crowds moving over the event’s three days. Beware supplied and Andrew engineered the Onyx Stage, an indoor space that hosted performances from artists like Michal Menert, Jantsen, VCTRE, CHMURA and Madhaus.

This stage, one of four alongside Emerald, Quartz and Opal, utilised five cabinets of Vero VX per side alongside two single VX cabinets for delays to deliver even coverage and stereo imaging across the full audience area. A total of 20 F124 subs were deployed in an eight per side configuration with an additional four cabinets in the centre.

“The lack of fatigue is what attracts me to the speaker line,” says Andrew. “These speakers make me feel good in a way that is tough to describe. I chase a feeling when I run Funktion-One. I measure the system only for time alignment and have never had to try to achieve a ‘flat’ response - it’s there naturally.”

Andrew’s relationship with Funktion-One began when electronic music producer Tipper first played at Red Rocks in 2015. When Andrew heard of the booking and the deployment of Vero, he contacted Funktion-One for a demo ahead of the event, then met sound expert Ron Lorman at the world famous, naturally formed amphitheatre. The pair got on well and began working together on event set ups.

“When the second Tipper Red Rocks show came around, Ron contacted me to be a part of it,” Andrew explains. “I time aligned the system for that show. Ron said he'd never heard a PA do that before and we've been working on projects together ever since.

“I now mix and system tech Tipper shows with Ron. I'd known Beware Productions prior to them getting Funktion-One, so when they got Vero and VX they reached out to me to run it.”

At Gem & Jam Festival, back at the beginning of February, Onyx Stage’s low roof height posed some challenges due reflections and secondary arrivals.

“The vertical dispersion of VX kept the energy on the floor and threw it to the back of the room,” Andrew explains. “The PA was angled similar to any other line array in a ‘J’ configuration, with the largest angle being three degrees on the bottom box, which was eight feet from the ground and covered the listeners at the barricade.”

Vero VX’s clarity stood out in this setting, particularly with this type of electronic music. It meant those in the audience were able to hear every element and all the dimensions of the music.

“As with all Funktion-One, the transient response is superior to other systems allowing the audience to hear every bit of every sample,” says Andrew. “The forward image of the system puts the music in your face and doesn't lack detail anywhere in the room.”

“Electronic music reveals the deficiencies of traditional speakers with large format compression drivers much earlier than a cone driven midrange due to the fast transients,” he continues. “There is less resonance in the diaphragms of the HF when operating from 4K and up than a 1K crossover. This translates to less EQ to get it loud depending on the program material. Also horn-loaded bass stops much faster than a ported cabinet, giving further definition to the signal.”

Andrew is a firm believer that Vero VX can work effectively with all sounds, offering an unrivalled accuracy, regardless of the source material. To get the best from the system, he advises engineers to work on a new mix for a set up rather than adapting an existing show file. If an EQ turns on differently to how expected, then Andrew feels engineers need to back it out of their channels and start again.

“Flatten out the channel EQ to start,” he says. “The knobs become a lot more ‘touchy’ and nowhere near as much EQ is needed as the PA has a lot less resonances than others.

“We EQ for so many other reasons than a loud frequency (standing waves in compression driver diaphragms and ported cabinets) when on conventional rigs and those same cuts on Funktion-One leave you with holes in the frequency response. This is the main problem when a touring engineer turns on their file and it's not what they're used to.

“When you finally realise that you've been chasing deficiencies in speakers due to low crossover points it frees you to be artistic with the EQ.” 

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