Sonic Boom: Thunder Audio Enjoys Touring Success with HARMAN’s JBL Professional VTX Line Arrays and Crown I-Tech HD Amplifiers

December 17, 2013

LIVONIA, Michigan — In the late 1970s,Tony Villarreal started Thunder Audio with a $1,500 income tax refund. It turned out to be a good investment—the Livonia, Michigan firm has grown to become one of the country’s biggest tour sound companies. The 2013 touring season has proved to be a booming success for Thunder Audio, with events ranging from the Austin City Limits Music Festival to the Alice Cooper/Marilyn Manson Master of Madness tour, and the company was able to deliver better sound than ever thanks to an investment in HARMAN’s JBL Professional VTX line arrays and Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers.

“We’ve gotten to where we are today by staying on top of the technology curve and providing the best possible sound for our clients,” said Paul Owen, Vice President of Thunder Audio. “When we first heard the JBL VTX Series it was clear they were a significant step forward in a number of sonic respects.”

In fact, Thunder Audio now has more than 90 JBL VTX Series V25 loudspeakers and S28 and G28 subwoofers in its inventory. Greg Snyder, Business Development Manager for Thunder Audio said, “We now use the VTX Series on all of our top-level festivals and tours because they are the best-suited to large indoor and outdoor venues for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the sheer horsepower of the speakers and subs.”

For the first time, Thunder Audio provided sound for the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which has grown so big it spreads over two weekends. No stranger to country music events, the company also supplied the audio for the 3-day Faster Horses Festival and Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and others. “We know what sound needs to be like for large outdoor music festivals,” Owen said. Those attributes include high power handling, superior low-frequency response, clarity and reliability under demanding continuous use.

Large music festivals are also good opportunities to compare the performance of different sound systems and line arrays in the field, notes Owen. “We get to hear how different systems handle throw distances, coverage patterns, vertical and horizontal dispersion and above all, how smooth and accurate they are in tonal balance and resolution. The JBL VTX loudspeakers and subwoofers are absolutely without equal in all of these characteristics,” he said.

Owen emphasized VTX’s ability to deliver stellar sound for any type of music. For Detroit’s massive Movement Electronic Music Festival, Thunder Audio furnished a system that included more than 90 VTX loudspeakers. “When 100,000 people want to immerse themselves in dance music, you need a system they can feel right through to their bones,” said Owen. “The VTX delivered absolutely crushing bass yet was wonderfully pure in the midrange and highs.”

“We might be doing sound for a country artist one weekend, an electronic dance music show the next and then be on the road with Metallica, Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Snyder pointed out. “The capability to change the loudspeaker’s crossover points from 80Hz to 60Hz allows us to optimize a VTX-based system for rock, electronic, country, jazz or any other type of music.”

“The JBL VTX Series drew compliments everywhere we went over the summer,” Owen concluded. “Time after time, guest front of house engineers, promoters and artists told us how great the shows sounded, and the audiences certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves!”

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HARMAN ( designs, manufactures, and markets a wide range of infotainment and audio solutions for the automotive, consumer, and professional markets. It is a recognized world leader across its customer segments with premium brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, and Mark Levinson® and leading-edge connectivity, safety and audio technologies. The company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 14,000 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $4.3 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013.

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