A Meyer Sound LEO Family linear reinforcement system supplied by UK-based Major Tom is currently being used on Ed Sheeran’s three-continent, 108-show ÷ (Divide) Tour.
Though working solo onstage with just an acoustic guitar and a custom loop pedal, Sheeran is supported by an offstage crew headed by production manager and FOH engineer Chris Marsh, who has held both posts since the earliest arena-touring days.
This tour marks the fifth consecutive year that Marsh has used the LEO Family system for Sheeran’s live performances.
As FOH engineer, Marsh depends on the system’s long throw and uniform response, and also appreciates how LEO Family’s rigging accommodates the tour’s up-tempo schedule: “My guys load in the PA and it’s up and out of the way inside an hour, and it’s loaded and on its way in forty minutes.
“As production manager, I was able to specify a stage only 40-feet wide,” Marsh added. “That’s plenty of room for Ed, but it gave us space to place end fire arrays with three by three stacks of 1100-LFC (low-frequency control elements) at either end. With Ed, I need frequencies around 50 Hz to be really punchy and uniform everywhere, and this design works extremely well with the 1100-LFC. They are fast and responsive where some other subs can get slow and ‘phasey’ in that region.”
Another departure for this tour is running the main arrays full range, rather than splitting bass off into a separate aux send. The tour’s typical configuration comprises twin front line arrays of 14 LEO loudspeakers flown over four LYON loudspeakers, with extended wide-angle coverage provided by – per side – 16 MILO line array loudspeakers and eight LEOPARD compact linear line array loudspeakers. Twelve flown 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements supplement the 18 in the end-fire floor arrays, and eight UPA-1P loudspeakers supply front fill. The rig is optimised before each show by Major Tom system engineer Charlie Albin, another veteran of multiple Sheeran tours.
Foldback on stage is via MJF-212A stage monitors augmented by two 900-LFC low-frequency control units, while at FOH Marsh listens in the nearfield with a pair of Amie monitors. At FOH, he mixes behind a DiGiCo SD7 console supplemented by an Avalon VT-737 input channel for vocal plus a pair of Bricasti M7 reverb units, one each for vocal and guitar. Sheeran’s primary vocal mic is a Sennheiser 9000 Series with a 9235 condenser capsule, while a secondary 9000 mic – expressly for vocal loop-building – is equipped with a 945 dynamic capsule.
“I’m still impressed every day that we’re selling out these huge venues,” stated Marsh, “but we don’t take it for granted. We are trying our best to give audiences the same exciting and intimate-feeling experience as when Ed was still out trying to prove himself. We have that same energy, though now it’s not trying to impress people but rather demonstrate that they were right to be impressed in the first place.”
The ÷ Tour launched in Turin, Italy on 16 March and, after winding 34 shows across Europe, 14 in Latin America and 60 in North America, wraps up in Nashville on 7 October.