Long Beach Jazz Festival, California

The Opportunity

Featuring headliners Robert Glasper, Ledisi and Sergio Mendes, 2022’s Long Beach Jazz Festival took place at Rainbow Lagoon Park for beautiful waterside views as fans enjoyed an eclectic mix of jazz, soul and R&B. While the location was a pristine setting for a weekend of laid-back jazz, the stage needed an audio rig with enough coverage to reach audiences on both sides of the lagoon, while also considering the stage’s limited height and space.

The Solution

To meet these requirements, Flag Systems designed a sound reinforcement system exclusively featuring JBL VTX and VRX Series solutions.

The rig consisted of left and right hangs of eight VTX V25-II-CS line array speakers each, giving the audio crew both high-impact sound and no-fuss rigging. Featuring an advanced HF Waveguide and JBL’s patented Radiation Boundary Integrator technology housed in a lightweight enclosure and advanced easy-rigging system, the V25 provided the coverage and output needed to reach fans throughout the festival grounds while working within the stage area’s size limitations.

Additionally, the stage left area included four JBL VTX A12 line array speakers alongside the main left hangs for reinforced coverage for the lagoon’s more pronounced curvature on one side. With specially designed JBL transducers that guarantee maximum output relative to the speaker’s size and weight, the A12 offers up to90-degree dispersion and dynamic clarity even at all volume levels. These speakers gave the stage left area the extra coverage and output needed to reach audiences while only adding minimal additional setup.

For the front fills, four JBL VRX932LA-1 two-way line array speakers offered the output and flexibility needed to work within the stage’s limited height while still reaching every audience member. Loaded with neodymium magnet Differential Drive woofers and 2408J Annular Ring Diaphragm HF drivers, the VRX932LA-1provides both detailed highs and resonating low end across a wide field of coverage. Additionally, the speaker includes both a dual angle pole socket and easy-to-use rigging hardware for simple and flexible setup options suitable for any type of venue.

Finally, 18 JBL VTX S28 subwoofers placed throughout the rig offered immersive, distortion-free low end thanks to their dual 18-inch 2269H transducers with Differential Drive technology. Designed to accommodate a range of venue sizes, the S28 offers a cardioid mode for extra rear rejection and thrives both ground-stacked or suspended thanks to the same quick-rigging system found in the V25. The subs also helped the sound teams find the right balance between reaching far away audiences without overwhelming the close-up VIP section with low end.

Fans of the Long Beach Jazz Festival have enjoyed JBL’s speakers for years, and this latest iteration was no exception. Kelly thanked JBL and HARMAN’s continued support of Flag Systems and praised the consistent quality across JBL’s line of solutions. 

The Impact

“If you’ve ever seen the site, you know one of the main challenges is that there’s a lake right behind the front-of-house,” said Kevin Kelly, Engineer, Flag Systems. “You don’t have to cover the lake itself, but the audience goes around each side of the lake, and so we had to penetrate fairly far. The other main challenge with this particular event is that the stage is not high enough to do a bigger array. I’ve always felt it’s needed to be a 10-to-12 deep hang to cover it correctly, but the bottom side of the top truss is only 28 feet, and so hanging that many boxes would put the bottom of the arrays below the height of the stage.”

“The A12s throw exceptionally,” added Kelly, “And the separate EQ controls and delay timing stack really helped. They were physically maybe a foot and a half in front of the main hang, so there was very little delay required to just line it up and sound coherent. The single biggest challenge I had with mixing was the acoustic grand piano, and the A12s made it easy to EQ the piano to be level with everything else.”

“I have to let the FOH engineers know that the subs can be a bit heavy for those $175 seats down front,” explained Kelly. “They have to come down a couple of dB as a result, and I understand what they’re trying to accomplish, but you have to do what’s overall best for the entire venue and event. That’s typical with all subs, but the S28 handles that balance pretty well.”

“All of the guest engineers loved the rig,” said Kelly. “We love JBL’s speakers, too. We’re an all JBL house; we probably have well over a thousand JBL speakers in our inventory, and we’ve very rarely had to replace a component over the years. The speakers, the drivers, they all hold up. We appreciate HARMAN’s ongoing support.”