The Sound Systems of U2

07 Jan 2015

Through the 1990s and 2000s, U2 launched some of the most ambitious tours ever staged.

The 1992-93 Zoo TV stage included 36 different video screens that showed fast cuts of live and pre-recorded video.  The stage itself stretch 248 feet by 80 feet.  The production required 176 speaker enclosures, 312 subwoofers, 592 mid-range speakers, 18 projectors, 26 microphones and a series of portable video cameras.  Everything was directed from a portable studio worth $3.5 million.  Fifty-two trucks were required to transport the 1,200 tons of gear.  Personnel travelled in 12 buses and a 180-person chartered jet.


 

  • The 1997-98 PopMart tour featured a 165-foot 150,000 pixel low-resolution LED screen weighing 65,000 pounds and costing $7 million.  This made it ten times larger than all 36 of the Zoo TV screens put together.  A mono speaker array was housed in a 100-foot parabolic arch over a stage measuring of 181-by-71.  Thirty tons of PA equipment generated over one million watts of power.  The system included 149 speaker enclosures of various designs and incorporated 298 eighteen inch woofers, 428 10” midrange drivers and 604 high frequency tweeters. Each stage set up took three days and three thousand man-hours to complete.  This meant that two separate stages were needed for the tour. The three power generators supplied four million watts of electricity (enough to supply 1,500 homes) through thirteen miles of cable.  More than 1,200 tons of equipment and 250 tour personnel were moved in seventy-five semi-trailers, fifteen buses and one customized fifty-seat Boeing 727.  An additional 200 people were hired at each stop on the tour.
     
  • The 2009-2011 360 Tour involved three “Claw” stages, each 167 feet tall (approximately double the size of the massive Rolling Stones Steel Wheels stage) and costing more than $30 million each.
     
  • Each of the four legs of a Claw contained a separate sound system in order to offer 360-degree sound disbursement
     
  • The structures were capable of holding 200 tonnes and were transported from show to show via 120 trucks.  Load-in required up to 3 ½ days.
     
  • The elongated video screen consisted of more than one million pieces include 411,000 pixels and 30,000 cables.
     
  • The tour crew required 137 permanent employees and 120 hired at each stop.
     
  • Daily overhead of the tour was approximately $750,000 per day.
     
  • The tour grossed over $736,000,000 through 110 shows.
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