Neil Diamond Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Hot August Night

Firehouse Productions provided a massive JBL VTX and VERTEC line array system for Neil Diamond’s 3-month tour.

Continuing over five decades of worldwide success, selling more than 115 million records globally, American singer-songwriter Neil Diamond recently completed a successful tour with HARMAN’s JBL VTX Series line arrays, providing unprecedented clarity and power. The 3-month tour included five performances at Los Angeles’ renowned Greek Theatre where, 40 years ago, Neil Diamond recorded his hit live double album, Hot August Night.

For the tour, Red Hook, New York-based Firehouse Productions deployed 32 (16 per side) JBL VTX V25 fullsize arrayable loudspeakers for the main PA system, with 28 (14 per side) VERTEC® VT4889 fullsize line array loudspeakers for the wraparound side fill, 24 (12 per side) VT4889 loudspeakers for additional side coverage, 24 (12 per side) VT4888 midsize line array loudspeakers for the left and right rear corners, 12 VT4886 subcompact line array loudspeakers for the rear fill, a center cluster of eight VT4886 subcompact line array loudspeakers, eight VT4886 subcompact loudspeakers at the stage lip for the near field, six (three per side) VT4887 compact line array loudspeakers for side fill washes and 24 (12 per side) VT4880A fullsize arrayable subwoofers.

A total of 96 Crown I-Tech 12000 HD amplifiers powered the system, while Firehouse Productions also provided a variety of AKG wireless microphones and dbx DriveRack® 4800 loudspeaker management processing.

The decision to tour with the new VTX series loudspeakers ultimately came after Diamond’s FOH Engineer Stan Miller and Monitor Engineer Bernie Becker heard a demo of the system earlier this year.


“There is a significant sonic improvement in the JBL VTX series,” Miller stated. “The high-end response of the loudspeakers is quite amazing. We are never close to pushing the system too hard, which is unique. The peaks in various venues are usually under 100dB, making it exciting yet comfortable. It is a very musical system.”

“There is so much headroom with the VTX series, the audio is much cleaner and more direct,” said Sam Helms, President of Sigmet Corporation, a HARMAN representative based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “Everything is running AES digital, completely from the mixer consoles to digital inputs on the Crown I-Tech 1200 HD amps, then to the components of the VTX loudspeakers. It gives us ultimate control and produces high-quality audio.”

Chris Russo, Systems Engineer at Firehouse, stated, “City to city, night to night, the VTX performed brilliantly. The system consistently delivered every detail of the mix to all the seats in the house.”


Diamond is a true professional and never stops honing his craft, according to Miller. “From the first show to the last show he is constantly evaluating everything, from song order to how the set flows,” he said. “We even discuss the music that plays while the audience is leaving the show—everything has to be perfect. VTX and the other HARMAN products give us the confidence to perform at our highest level. The support has also been amazing and it is one of the reasons we have remained so loyal to HARMAN.”

The crew involved with the Neil Diamond tour includes: Greg “Chico” Lopez, RF guru and assistant to Bernie Becker at the stage as well as the Crew Chief; Jonathan Melton, Miller’s right-hand man at FOH; Scott Lawhead, Stage Tech; John Drane, a Diamond tour veteran of many years and Chief System Tech; and Jeff Child and Tyler Clapp, sound crew members from Firehouse.


HARMAN designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets – supported by 15 leading brands, including AKG, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon and Mark Levinson. The company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 20 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 13,400 people across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and reported sales of $4.4 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012.