Tech Focus

Allen & Heath SQ Series For Multiplatinum Artist MAX On Tour

Mix engineer Kyle Chirnside opts for SQ-5 surfaces for front of house and monitors joined by a DX168 stagebox for pop artist's series of dates in North America.
Kyle Chirnside delivering the mix for MAX on tour on an Allen & Heath SQ-5 surface. (Photo Credit: Chris Leonard)

The ongoing tour of North America by multiplatinum pop artist Max Schneider, a.k.a., MAX, sees veteran mix engineer (and Signal to Noise podcast co-host) Kyle Chirnside opting for a dual Allen & Heath SQ mix system configuration, with 48-channel SQ-5 surfaces at both the front of house and monitor positions along with a DX168 16-input stagebox for expanded I/O.

“I wanted something small and compact,” Chirnside explains. “I don’t need any external FX or plugins, I use the built-in processing of the SQ. We also will have to fly during this tour, so I kept everything under fifty pounds to meet the requirements for air travel.”

Even with a separate monitor console, there wasn’t a need for a dedicated monitor engineer on the tour — each of the performers handles their own in-ear monitor mixes through the wireless SQ4YOU application. “We basically have a ‘ghost’ monitor engineer,” jokes Chirnside, who also keeps an iPad near the front of house console where he can make adjustments as needed to the monitor SQ-5 but noting that it’s only there as a contingency plan: “The system has been flawless.”

Chirnside makes use of the scenes function on SQ to create automations, allowing him to recall desired parameters and levels for each song. “It was so easy to set up, and I can trigger the scene recalls with the user-defined SoftKeys,” he says, adding that he fine-tunes each scene to make the live performances of songs emulate the quality of their respective studio recordings. “I do most of my work in rehearsal to figure out which reverbs or delays to go with,” he adds. “The gated reverbs and wide ADT doubler in SQ allow me to re-create the more electronic-sounding recordings. I want everyone’s cell phone video of the show to sound awesome.”

To capture recordings of performances, he utilizes the SQ’s built-in SQ-Drive function that allows users to record either 2-channel stereo or up to 32 channels of multitrack directly to an external USB hard drive. “Awesome that I can do multitrack or main LR mix to my USB thumbdrive,” Chirnside says. “I can hand off those recordings to the tour videographer, or even use them for a virtual soundcheck to tune the P.A. – it’s been a super game-changer for me.”

“We love working with Kyle and the Signal to Noise podcast folks,” notes Allen & Heath USA director of marketing Jeff Hawley. “I’ve seen a number of SQ-5 duo rigs like this popping up on social, with acts that have similar demands for a powerful and compact touring system that doesn’t break the bank. It was cool seeing texts come over from Kyle as the tour kicked off and the band and the crowds all responded positively to the system and his mix. We certainly understand that there are a lot of contenders in the compact digital mixer space overall — and it is awesome that Kyle joined the ranks of engineers who are finding the SQ to be the best fit for their needs.”

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