More than 80,000 Irish fans burst into cheers of jubilation when the first pummeling chords of “Tides” opened each of Ed Sheeran’s two shows in late April at Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium. Though most in attendance knew that the shows were the first of the in-the-round “+ – = ÷ x” (“Mathematics”), Sheeran’s fourth world tour, few outside the production crew likely knew that the occasion also marked the global premiere of Meyer Sound’s new PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeaker. Supplied by U.K.-based Major Tom, Ltd. and suspended from daringly conceived mast and cable net rigging, the system was anchored by 212 PANTHER loudspeakers. The Dublin shows also were the first anywhere to deploy a Milan protocol AVB network from FOH mix all the way to the loudspeaker cabinets.
Although the PANTHER-based system is substantially smaller, lighter, and more energy-efficient than would have been the case using Sheeran’s prior touring inventory, which was largely based on LEO® line array loudspeakers, everybody on the audio production team was confident that the new rig would perform with equivalent results. However, according to Production Director and FOH Engineer Chris Marsh, the Dublin debut suggests their expectations may have been overly cautious.