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Upcoming R.E.M. World Tour Accelerates with EAW MicroWedge Stage Monitors

FOH Staff • News • May 6, 2008

WHITINSVILLE, MA – The upcoming world concert tour by R.E.M. will feature EAW MicroWedge MW12 stage monitors deployed by Monitor Engineer George Squiers to provide monitor sound on stage for all band members.

Among the most popular and enduring artists in the history of rock music, R.E.M. is touring in support of the critically acclaimed album Accelerate, released earlier this year, which debuted at number two on the Billboard charts. The band continues to be led by iconic lead singer Michael Stipe, with Peter Buck on guitar and Mike Mills on bass. They are supported by Scott McCaughey as a second guitarist, keyboardist and utility man, as well as Bill Rieflin on drums.

The tour kicks off in late May with a month of North American dates before moving on to an extensive set of European dates over the summer. Oxnard, Calif.-based Rat Sound Systems Inc. is serving as the sound reinforcement company for the tour, and is supplying the 22 EAW MicroWedge MW12 wedges under the direction of Squiers.

“The new EAW MicroWedge is a very loud and a great-sounding design,” states Squiers. “I love the smooth natural high-end and the amazing low-end it reproduces. The low-end is leaps and bounds over any single 12-inch design I've run across, competing with and exceeding most single 15-inch designs. Single source point philosophy also goes very far in my book.”

The MW12 offers a coaxial driver arrangement that pairs a 12-inch woofer with a three-inch (diaphragm) HF compression driver on a horn delivering full yet tightly controlled 90-degree horizontal dispersion. A large port on the front of the cabinet serves to enhance LF response in coupling with the floor. Further, the MW12 operates in passive or active modes, selectable by the user via a mode switch within the port.

Four MW12s will be used for Michael Stipe at his central stage position, arrayed in an arc with two for vocals and two for instruments. Dual MW12s are to be dedicated to Buck, Mills and McCaughey on the frontline, while Mills also gets another pair of MW12s at the midstage position where he plays piano and synth, and yet another pair at downstage right, a location he frequents during shows. McCaughey will also be supplied with another pair of MW12s at his keyboard position.

“The air movement and warmth on stage is very important for these guys,” Squiers explains. “I don’t have sidefills filling in the lower registers, so the wedges need to be able to stand on their own.”  

Yet another pair of MW12 is dedicated to Rieflin’s drum position. (“He loves the push we get out of his kick drum and floor toms in these wedges,” Squiers notes.) More wedges are in consideration to be flown at points around the stage to supply additional fill, with the rated flytrack incorporated in each MW12 enclosure making this much easier as well as far more stable than other approaches.

“Michael Stipe also loves to hop on his wedges, and prefers the comfort and stability of the MicroWedge low-profile design to anything else we or he has run across,” Squiers adds with a laugh. For this tour, each pair of MW12 wedges for the floor is mounted to plywood and secured by aluminum clamps in their ports, providing even further stability. It also simplifies and quickens setup and strike during changeovers.

The MW12 is the first EAW MicroWedge Series product to be released since an agreement was reached between LOUD Technologies Inc. and MicroWedge developer Rat Sound Systems Inc. in late 2007, stipulating that EAW will serve as the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of MicroWedge products.


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