The M-480 was paired with the Roland S-3208 and S-1608 modular digital snakes to meet a 48 input and output requirement.
“The snake heads are part of the REAC networking system that drive the heart of the A/D conversion. It all combines for very simple integration, and sounds great. I really wouldn’t have it any other way for this situation.” Froula says.
He also recorded each show to a Roland R-1000 48-track recorder that lived handily on the REAC network.
“It plugs right into the console’s REAC bus,” he explains, “allowing me to multi-track 48 channels with two Cat-5 cables and a hard drive, providing for easy DAW integration as well as the ability to do virtual sound checks, if necessary.”
In keeping his front-of-house footprint compact, Cowan handled all processing using a combination of the onboard capabilities offered by his Yamaha DM2000VCM console and a variety of Universal Audio plug-ins hosted in Pro Tools 9 on his MacBook Pro.
His choice of the DM2000VCM was “a no-brainer,” he says, something his production company, A Major Productions, had on hand and that allowed him to travel with very little in the way of external processing. “It’s well equipped with plugins, and the Waves 96 DSP Card provides additional choices for compression, EQ and de-ssing, but, primarily, I’m using Universal Audio plug-ins for reverb and delay,” he says.
Front of house engineer George Cowan at his Yamaha DM2000VCM console. (click to enlarge)
This preference is informed by his long-time work as a recording engineer, and including at upstate New York’s Bearsville Studios. Since taking on live duties for artists like Natalie Merchant, and later, in 2003, with Jackson, he now splits his time between recording and live sound.
“UAD products have always been counted among the list of top gear, especially for studio recording,” Cowan explains, “but I wouldn’t put their hardware in a rack on the truck every night. Now they’ve moved into the digital realm so I can take the tools that I’m used to, and that do what I expect of them, and put them in my live arsenal.
“I park the UAD plug-ins on Pro Tools channels, put the channels in record ready so I have a through port and digital I/O between the console and the laptop using an M-Audio Lightbridge. It’s a lot like setting up a rack. You don’t see many people doing this. It’s not a typical way of using Pro Tools, but has proven to be stable.”
A look at the miking approach for Nate Smith’s kit. (click to enlarge)
Typically at each venue, Cowan requested a high-quality stereo, 3 or 4-way main loudspeaker system with commensurate subwoofers, controlled by a configurable, digital electronic crossover/loudspeaker management system.
The goal was consistently delivery of sound pressure levels of 112 dB, A-weighted, throughout each venue.
“Essentially, I start from the top down, providing a list of acceptable PA systems,” he adds, noting that top-flight brands including d&b audiotechnik, Meyer Sound, L-Acoustics,
Martin Audio, Adamson Systems, NEXO, Electro-Voice and JBL all make his cut.
Still, he’s not locked into using one manufacturer’s product exclusively over another: “It depends on what’s available, what the venue’s needs are and if additional loudspeakers are required for over/under balcony support. I’m not going to demand a specific system if they already have an adequate one.”