Bill Johnson knows live sound. Before assuming the roles of full-time technical director and chief audio engineer for the massive touring Kenneth Copeland Ministries, where he served for fourteen years, Johnson cut his teeth mixing for acts such as Concrete Blonde, the Dave Matthews Band, Ice T, and Widespread Panic. In 2000, Johnson started his own company, Johnson Audio Works, to marshal that extensive experience for the benefit of clients with small- to mid-sized live events. Recently, Johnson upgraded his rig to Danley Sound Labs, his newfound favorite loudspeakers and subwoofers. Now, Johnson graces clients with improved fidelity and impact delivered by a pair of lightweight but hugely efficient Danley SM-80 full-range loudspeakers and a pair of powerful Danley TH-118 subwoofers.
Most of Johnson’s clients are ministries, government, and community organizations, with a few upscale weddings thrown in for good measure; and three-quarters of the content he is responsible for is spoken word. His audience sizes typically range between 300 and 700 people. After recently relocating from Texas to Georgia, Johnson has developed a closer relationship with the engineers at Georgia-based Danley Sound Labs. “Of course, I was aware of Danley Sound Labs and its reputation – the pro audio industry isn’t so big,” he said. “But the first time I actually heard Danley products, I was hooked.” Part of Johnson’s success is his commitment not just to sound quality, but to the system’s overall appearance and its fine scale details. “I aim for installation quality for temporary events,” he said.
The Northside Jam is an annual event put on by Rick Nunez Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas and serves as an excellent example of the power of Johnson’s new portable Danley system. Last year, Howard Scott, former band leader of the 1970s act, War, headlined and drew 1,500 people to Marine Park. “The guy I hired to run FOH couldn’t believe I was seriously going to cover the event with just two Danley SM-80s for full-range,” Johnson said. “He could understand the two Danley BC-415 subwoofers, which I had on loan from Ivan [Beaver, Danley’s chief engineer]. But I walked in with the two SM-80s, one on each arm. They just don’t look capable of delivering the necessary SPLs. He expressed his concern but totally changed his tune after sound check. Not only were the SM-80s plenty loud enough, the sound quality was outstanding. He said it felt like mixing on studio monitors! That was at 110 feet from the stage, outdoors! I walked back 350 feet and the sound was still natural and balanced. Danley’s high-end output is notable and makes the SM-80 pleasant and effective for both near- and far-field applications.”
He continued, “In my world, it’s hard to find a one-box-fits-all solution, but the SM-80 is it. Not only is the sound quality excellent, the size greatly simplifies my set up time. That’s critical, because the margin on live events is small. I’m able to charge the competition’s rates, but where they have a four or five hour bump in, I’m able to get the job done in just two. Moreover, the Danley system tunes up with almost no adjustment, so I’m able to quickly move on to making things look nice and tending to the client’s requests. I think part of Danley’s success is the fact that everyone in the company has lived and breathed in the live and installed sound industries before. It’s more than just the sound.”