Monitors for touring and at festivals present a unique set of conditions and challenges, with digital console technology helping engineers rise to the occasion. It’s also interesting to see the ways that networking is serving to more closely ally house and monitors.
Here’s a look at some recent applications.
Fitz and the Tantrums On Tour
Monitor engineer Aaron Glas has been mixing on a Soundcraft Vi1 during a recent U.S. concert tour by indie pop band Fitz and the Tantrums (pictured below).
“A few years ago, I was looking for a small-format digital console that could handle 24 outputs and there aren’t many,” he says. “The Vi1 looked perfect. I’ve toured with it for several years now and I’m thrilled to continue mixing on the Vi1.”
Yet while he has plenty of experience working with the Vi1 (and other Vi Series models), his work with Fitz and the Tantrums marks the first instance where he’s used the cue/snapshot feature, something he has found to be an advantage.
“Using the snapshots with the Vi1 has been a great learning experience,” Glas notes. “We’ll always have the full band at sound check and it’s nice that I can recall what we’ve done the previous night and tweak the mixes based on the band’s requests. With the snapshot feature, I’m able to fine-tune the sound more specifically with each successive performance.”
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In addition, the snapshot feature enables Glas to quickly and easily adjust to any changes the band makes from show to show.
“My cues can change with the set list and all the levels can be recalled nightly so it makes for a pretty consistent performance each time,” he says. “The band has a great comfort level knowing they can achieve the same quality audio night in and night out.”
CMA Music Festival
Morris Light & Sound (Nashville) handled audio production for the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage at this year’s CMA Music Festival in Nashville, including providing Yamaha CL5 digital consoles and Rio3224 input/output boxes all connected via Audinate Dante networking. The site was the event’s largest outdoor free stage, with numerous engineers on hand to supply mixes to more than 50 top artists.
For example, freelance engineer Russell Fischer, who among others has mixed Taylor Swift, The Mavericks and Toby Keith, handled monitors for several different bands. He enjoyed working with the CL5 in the large festival situation: “I like the flexibility and ease of use of the Custom Fader Banks; it made for very quick navigation of critical inputs during the festival at the monitor mix position. Also, I found the Premium Rack devices very useful.”
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Meanwhile, Eric Elwell (pictured here), who mixed front of house for Joe Nichols, also used the Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5043 compressor across the stereo bus just to add some final “glue” to the mix. Elwell adds that he used a CL5 console once before, subbing for a friend on a tour last fall.
“I was impressed then by the purity and clarity,” he states. “The mic pres are fantastic, and the plug-ins give you everything you need to add ‘a little something extra.’ The sounds of the plug-ins are just like the real hardware I’ve used in the studio…glorious.”