492 Cafe

Freeman Z Gigs With Hanley Sound Crew


Joe Hanley prepares the 40' tall speaker towers

In 1968, I pondered the outrageuos fact that due to an accident of birth, (namely, that I was only five at the time,) I was certain to miss the concert of the century. At that time, Bill Hanley was designing the Woodstock sound system which would carry the sounds of Richie Havens, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Arlo Guthrie, Melanie Safka, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Santana, Sly and The Family Stone, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, The Band, Blood Sweat & Tears, Janis Joplin and others at the field at Max Yasgur's pig farm.

The Woodstock speakers had a second life in apartheit South Africa. Read the story (and much more!) from our links about Bill Hanley, Here.


Bill Hanley: Father of Festival Sound

Newport Jazz Festival, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Woodstock, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Cafe au Go Go, LBJ's Inaugural, Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, Anti Vietnam War Rallies, Industry Innovations, Family, etc.

Hanley Bros. and 'Rebel' cabinets Young Bill Hanley Altec 210's

The Gig

The job is a two-day fundraiser that will tally over half a million dollars. We will be responsible for bringing the sound from the stage to the live audience, and to FM and cable as well.

Main Stage -A


Festival tents and canopies are popping up in front of the stage.

The (JBL EON 15" powered loudspeakers) serve as stage monitors (shown) and are later turned outward to satisfy the audience gathered at the stage.

The lightweight and powerful EON cabinets have inbuilt amplifiers, and are similar to 492 Cafe's JBL's which are driven by traditional external amplifiers.


Main Stage -B

A 15" JBL EON cabinet.

Speaker Towers Installation

Tower Installation -A

Joe Hanley swings an outrigger stabilizer boom into position. After the boom is locked in place, the leg will swing straight down toward the ground.



Tower Installation -B


Joe settles the leg into place while an assistant locks it in place.

It will be up to Bill and myself to reverse this process ...late at night.


Tower Installation -C

With the boom and leg locked in place, Joe uses a special tool to screw the jack toward the ground, lifting and stabilizing the trailer. This is repeated for the three remaining jacks on this trailer.

As we work here, Joe will be doing his own sound job at M.I.T's commencement.



Tower Installation -D

Through the cage: horns facing downward.



Tower Installation -E


Hydraulic pumps raising a speaker tower.

You can see the narrow drum at the base which allows the tower to rotate a full three sixty.

An array of high frequency short-horns juts out at bottom right.

Towers in Position

The three towers

The towers were already playing songs by Crosby Stills and Nash and The Band, two groups Bill worked with. They found their first use in Central Park, working for the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Because of the extra-wide area we're filling, the speakers are facing out very wide, maybe 160 degrees, hence the center fills.

I was pleasantly surprised as I walked the grounds making sound checks. The height results in surprising range and even coverage. We can hear a distinct "backslap" from the distant woods. Even at the periphery, the direct sound is much louder than the echo.

This is good.

Three Towers


the Hanley "Twin-Towers of Sound"



Front Fills

Since the towers are aimed almost 180 degrees apart, these PA cabinets fill in the "hole" between the towers. These units are more conventional in size, about 150 pounds. Large arrays of cabinets in this size range are often used for big jobs.

Bill recalled that Peter Paul and Mary had used this American-made Klipsch 3-way cabinet. Leaving on a Jet Plane (J. Denver), This Land is Your Land (W. Guthrie), Puff The Magic Dragon, Where Have All The Flowers Gone? (P. Seeger), If I Had A Hammer (Seeger/Hayes), This Train (P. Yarrow and P. Stookey), and If I had My Way (G. Davis, later covered by The Grateful Dead,) plus Dylan's Don't Think Twice, Blowin' In The Wind, The Times They Are A Changin' and more. Peter Paul and Mary.com

"Line Arrays" are becoming more common, but are still quite expensive. I was backstage at the march on the pentagon, where I spoke with Brian Becker about the stage and sound rental for the event.


I got to see the stage disassembled, and the JBL line array speakers taken down. I discovered much later that the method everyone uses now, hoisting the speakers with a winch-like "chain motor" was one of Bill's own innovations.



A Better Look...


Here you can see the four boxey low-frequency bass "bins" placed high above the JBL horns.

Here, the bins can be seen to diverge a bit for wider coverage.


A Better Look...


Two layers of steel screen mesh protect the speakers from nest-building critters and excited fans alike.


The Control "Booth"

Front-Of House Mixing

Bill Hanley is credited with many innovations in the sound industry, among these is the Front-Of-House (FOH) mix, now standard practice.

This means that the Engineer is hearing precisely what the audience is hearing, so it makes for a much better mix that takes into account the actual acoustic space. Before FOH, Engineers mixed to the speakers. Now we mix to the "house." Even if the house is an open field, this yields superior results.

To Bills annoyance, the layout at this event required that we mix the sound from behind the main speakers by using a monitor speaker (a smaller JBJ EON,) placed at the control console.

Here, you see our control "Booth" (left, under canopy,) and the three sets of loudspeakers facing the festival grounds.

At a peace rally on Boston Common, MJ Audio of Boston employed two Engineers, one for FOH, and another to work the stage and mix the stage monitors. (You can see 492 Cafe's 24 channel console on the job here, making a recording.)

Note: This image provides a clear view of the trailer outriggers in place.



Output and Feeds

Separate compression is provided for our five outputs, three sets of main loudspeakers, a feed for the television broadcast, and another for the FM transmitter.



Extra Services

Custom Fittings on the Fly

Bill solders some fittings we need to feed the FM transmitter as requested by festival organizers.



Feed: FM Transmitter

This small stereo transmitter broadcast the sound to automobiles, homes, and portables in the area.


FM Antenna



Feed: Cable TV

Cable TV Technicians verify the broadcast sound quality with a viewer via telephone.




The event total board registers the amount raised.




Packin' Up

Amplifier Racks

Bill places a rack of amplifiers onto a front-end loader.



The Panel Truck

Here are some of the three racks of amplifiers we used. After the gear is returned to inventory, we'll write our report that reminds us of issues to keep in mind next year.



The Snout

Pepe the spaniel was banned from the event on account of his being a dog, so there simply are no pics of him begging food, humping legs or peeing on anything. Just this picture of a happy little dog snout.


More about Bill Hanley and his career Here.

- Events - Satire - People - Music - Radio - Poetry - FreemanZ -