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Fall To Grace: Digital Paths For Paloma Faith On Tour

Reinforcing a distinctly musical style at London's Hammersmith Apollo

By Paul Watson April 11, 2013

Paloma Faith performing on the recent tour, utilizing a Sennheiser MD 5235 dynamic microphone element on an SKM 5200 mk II transmitter.

Much talked-about UK actress-turned-songwriter Paloma Faith recently brought her distinct musical style and sizeable, glitzy set to London’s Hammersmith Apollo for a slick headline show that punctuated a successful concert tour.

Faith first started making waves in the UK music scene in 2009, with her first three singles all making the top 20. She’s been nominated for three BRIT Awards, and her second album, Fall to Grace, went platinum, peaking at number two on the UK album chart in the process.

For the tour, which saw Faith backed by a band of accomplished players, front of house engineer Huw Richards chose L-Acoustics KARA line arrays with flown subwoofers, and has been impressed. “It’s my first time using KARA, and I like it a lot; it’s a very compact and light weight system,” Richards tells me during sound check in the near empty 5,000 capacity venue. “We needed a system that would be flexible but that still packed a punch, as the venues on the tour are all different shapes and sizes.

“We’re pushing it to its extreme here (at the Apollo),” he continues, “but because of the way we are able to configure it, it actually covers a room like this better than (L-Acoustics) V-DOSC or K1 would.”

SSE Audio Group, the sound reinforcement company for the tour, supplied 48 KARA boxes, 36 of which were utilized at this London show (two hangs of 18 per side). They were joined by three hung SB18 subwoofers per side, with all loudspeakers driven by L-Acoustics LA8 amplified controllers.

SSE system tech Perttu Korteniemi (left) and engineer
Hew Richards at the house system DiGiCo SD10 console. (click to enlarge)

“We haven’t had to ground stack this system once, and the hung subs are more than enough; to be honest, KARA has not just delivered, it’s gone way beyond that,” Richmy choice of PA company. They serve us particularly well, knowing exactly what we wanted and getting it just right.”

Forward Thinking
Another aspect supplied by SSE is Richards’ DiGiCo SD10 digital house console, joined by a companion SD Rack as well as some other interesting pieces.

“Miles (Hillyard, SSE senior project manager) gave us some cool bits and bobs play around with, including the Waves PuigChild (hardware compressor/limiter), which works beautifully on Paloma’s vocal because she has quite a peaky mid range,” he explains. “We have it on a setting that works well for her; it just catches the peaks and holds them back, and also fattens up the vocal nicely. We’ve also got a Waves Maxx BCL applied across the PA.”

Monitor engineer Saul Skoutarides at his Midas PRO2 console. (click to enlarge)

Richards has favored DiGiCo consoles for some time for functionality and sound quality reasons, and he offers specifics about how he’s using the SD10 on this tour.

“I’m running 54 channels,” he explains, “and what’s great about this model is that I have 12 faders in each bay rather than eight, which is fantastic for drums. We have several snares and kicks, but I can pack the whole kit into one bay, which is ideal.

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