by Bob Malkowski | 2,7 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 3 Minutes

 ·  Source: Meyer Sound


Metallica Download Festival 2023: This year the band brought their own Meyer Sound Panther PA system, which was used by all main-stage acts. Residents as far away as 15 miles from the festival reported the gig could be heard clearly! We delve into how and why this year’s festival was the loudest ever…


Metallica Download Festival 2023

Download Festival takes place every year at Donington Park Raceway in Leicestershire, England. If you’re a fan of rock and metal in the UK,  you’ve probably made the annual pilgrimage to Donington at some point. Download follows in the footsteps of the original “Monsters of Rock” festival, which first began back in 1980.

This year’s headliners were Metallica, and as you might expect, the band brought with them various demands of their own. Notably, the band specified their own Meyer Sound Panther line-array system for the main stage. It’s a choice which has led to lots of discussions online…

Meyer Sound Panther

Meyer Sound describe the Panther as a “large format line-array” loudspeaker system. The idea behind a line-array system is that wherever you might stand in an audience, you should get the same sound. That’s a crucial reason Metallica chose the Panther system for their current M72 tour.

If you’ve seen pictures and footage online of the latest Metallica tour, you’ll see that Metallica doesn’t use a traditional stage at all! That’s one reason why a line array system made perfect sense for the M72 tour.

If you were at Download, you’d see that the headliners perform on a traditional stage setup. Even so, those at the festival are writing about the great coverage and sound quality. I read one first-hand report saying the sound was “like wearing a pair of stereo headphones everywhere I walked”.

The big controversy, however, has been that the sound was clean and clear not just at the festival site, but for the surrounding towns and villages, too!


The circular stage setup for Metallica’s M72 tour · Source: Meyer Sound


Rock and Roll ain’t Noise Pollution

I live 30 miles from the festival; I didn’t hear it, but I have heard a lot of local complaints! Sources report that the show was heard clean and clear miles from the venue. How can this be?

I looked online for weather forecasts for the Download weekend and two things caught my eye: Firstly, reports of cloud cover and secondly, “moderate winds”.  These two meteorological effects can contribute to sound propagating much further than usual.

I’m not an expert when it comes to the intricate physics of sound propagation! However, moderate winds, cloud cover and a PA system designed for perfect sound coverage over a wide area? Well, perhaps this is the answer to the complaints!

Wake up the Neighbours

While we can’t hook you up with a Meyer Sound rig of your own, you can buy some of Metallica’s gear! A replica of Kirk Hammet’s original 1979 Flying V is now available through Gibson’s Custom Shop (at a price!).  Additionally, ESP has recently released the James Hetfield signature “Snakebyte” guitar.

Affiliate Links
Gibson Kirk Hammett 1979 Flying V
Gibson Kirk Hammett 1979 Flying V No customer rating available yet
Affiliate Links
ESP Snakebyte BLKS James Hetfield
ESP Snakebyte BLKS James Hetfield
Customer rating:

Were you at Download festival? What did you think of the sound? What’s your views on noise complaints and music festivals? Let us know what you think the comments!

More Information

How do you like this post?

Rating: Yours: | ø:

3 responses to “Metallica Download Festival 2023: Heard 15 Miles away – how and why?”

    Firewaltzer says:

    Lars is gonna sue them for listening for free

    JP says:

    Ironically, one of the main sales points of high end line arrays (L-Acoustics, etc), is how precisely directional they are and, therefore, how they’re supposed to help system techs contain the sound and avoid annoying the neighbours.

    Feurope says:

    Rock and Roll ain’t Noise Pollution of course is utter bull statement. It’s the good weather season, so in my area almost every weekend I hear some festival from miles away. This didnt just start with Metallica or this year. It seems however more people complain since covid. However, the “Rock and Roll ain’t Noise Pollution” is humbug as I can tell you if you have to listen to stuff that is not your cup of tea for an evening and can hear it inside and everywhere you go it gets annoying quickly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *