The CP Holiday Trains are spreading the joy of the season—and filling local food banks with donations—across Canada and the northern US. Supported by Meyer Sound systems, the brightly decorated trains draw thousands of people who brave the winter cold to partake in the festivities.
With two separate 14-car trains travelling west across Canada and the US, the Holiday Train program delivers free live music shows in more than 150 US and Canadian communities, encouraging attendees to bring donations for local food banks. As the crowds grew year after year, the organizers decided to look for more powerful and higher-quality audio reinforcement for the 2014 edition.
"The difference the Meyer Sound systems provide is stunning, despite their smaller footprint," says Randall Prescott, president of Rip Roar Productions in Eastern Ontario, and producer of the trains' entertainment program for the past 13 years. "I can go to the back of an audience of nearly 10,000 and still hear a crisp hi-hat and punchy vocals that have the whole crowd singing along. It is a marvelous feeling for me, as the shows' producer, to know that not one person is missing one note, whether in front of the stage or at the far back of the crowd."
To accommodate crowds gathered on either side of the train, the stage car is a double-sided affair, with a drop-down door and stage extension on each side, and a rotating drum riser in the center. On each side of the car, two loudspeaker stacks comprise one UPQ-1P and UPJ-1P VariO loudspeaker atop a 500-HP subwoofer. A Galileo loudspeaker management system with one Galileo 616 processor provides system drive and optimization, and MJF-210 stage monitors augment the musicians' in-ear monitoring systems.
Each stage car is also equipped with Sennheiser and Shure microphones, and a Behringer X32 digital mixer is set up to allow mixing back in the crowd using a remote iPad control.
"The Meyer Sound system is a remarkable improvement," says Ken Stone, the Ottawa-based independent audio engineer who helped select the audio equipment. "We're gaining at least another 150 feet of throw, and we're not getting near to the maximum level of what the boxes can do. They are little workhorses, that's for sure."
The CP Holiday Trains are sponsored by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The artists on this year's trains include Jim Cuddy, Odds, Roxanne Potvin, Kira Isabella, Tracey Brown, and Home Free. The 2014 Holiday Train program is expected to exceed last year's donation totals of $2 million and 300,000 pounds of food.