|The system includes Electro-Voice ZLX-15P, ZLX-12P loudspeakers and ELX118P subwoofers|
The American tradition of sleepaway summer camp dates all the way back to the Civil War era, when a Connecticut schoolmaster began taking students on character-building trips into the great outdoors. If participants in those early camps could visit the Music Masters Camps at Full Moon Resort in New York State's Catskill Mountains, they'd likely recognise the camaraderie of group activities and perhaps the music making on warm summer evenings around the campfire. But they'd probably be unprepared for the blues jams or the rock shredding featured in some of the camp's sessions. The setting offers campers of all ages the opportunity to interact with top musical talent for days at a time in an environment devoted to learning and performing. To ensure that the sound is as exceptional as the resident artists, those performances are presented on PA systems made by Electro-Voice.
With the notable exception of Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain, the five-day, four-night sessions at the 2014 camp were primarily focussed on various genres of guitar-oriented music. Within that general heading, a lot of musical ground was covered. Individual artists as diverse as Richard Thompson, Steve Earle, Robben Ford, and “Metal Mike” Chlasciak led various sessions, and members of groups such as The Allman Brothers and King Crimson were featured instructors for others. Daytime activities included master classes, open rehearsals, ensemble workshops, and panel discussions; nights were filled with artist performances, participant jam sessions, and acoustic campfires. The last night of each session culminated in a farewell banquet and finale concert.
The musical activity at the camp is spread out over several sites on the Full Moon Resort grounds, including the Roadhouse, the Barn, and the Woodchip tent. The main PA system for the camp lives in the Roadhouse but is frequently set up in other locations for specific events and performances. “The beauty of our Electro-Voice system is that we can easily move it and set it up in different settings wherever we need that kind of juice,” says Andrew Gailey, who heads the camp's technical operations. The system is made up of a pair of Electro-Voice ZLX-15P powered two-way mains, a pair of powered ZLX-12P loudspeakers that can either supplement the mains or be used as monitors, and a pair of ELX118P single-18 powered subwoofers. A wide range of EV microphones are also used for instruments and vocals.
Jason Jacquemain of Electro-Voice representatives C.L. Pugh & Associates of Brunswick, Ohio not only recommended the right EV speakers for the resort, he also attended as a camper. “I wasn't familiar with the ZLX line before,” Gailey says. “Jason was super helpful in walking me through the setup and features.”
Gailey describes the system as being “designed so that everything works really well together. The settings on the back really let you dial in the sound of the speaker for the specific situation. I can set the top for the model of sub that it's going to be running with, and I can go through and precisely adjust the speaker's treble and bass response. I've worked with systems from other brands at a similar price point, but I've never seen a system with this level of control. The overall setup and use of these speakers is really noticeably easier.”
Aside from the ease of optimising the sound, Gailey says he likes the fact that the front LED on the ZLX can be set as a peak indicator. “It's really handy when you're mixing to be able to see right away when you're hitting things too hard.”
“The beauty of our Electro-Voice system is that we can easily move it and set it up in different settings wherever we need that kind of juice”
Over the course of each summer the in-house system is supplemented as needed depending on the requirements of the artists for a given camp session. “Most of the time the systems we bring in are passive systems that stay set up in one of our venues for the week,” Gailey says. Sourced from Ballantine Communications & Staging in Pleasant Valley, New York, these additional PA systems are made up of Electro-Voice components.
The resident artists, who typically bring in their own crew, also sometimes bring in their own systems, as was the case for this year’s Three of a Perfect Pair session. The group, made up of progressive-rock legends Adrian Belew (guitar), Tony Levin (bass, stick), and Pat Mastelotto (drums), brought in Crimson Project engineer Robert Frazza, who equipped the Barn with an Electro-Voice PA system for the group’s performances. "Robert owns Bearsville Theater in nearby Woodstock, which is primarily an EV house," Gailey says, “so a lot of the EV gear for that system came from his personal inventory.”
With all the various ways that Electro-Voice PAs have been used at the camp, Gailey has had plenty of opportunity to assess how they operate and how they sound. “Our EV gear has been great — absolutely no complaints,” he says. “We’ll definitely be looking to EV again for any additional systems we need in the future.”