Noted front of house engineer Kyle Hamilton utilizes JBL 708P studio monitors in rehearsals to help in delivering live mixes that sound like the recordings.
Hamilton founded his company, NeverSleep Productions, in 2004 after working in live sound since 1993. In that time, he has become a touring front of house engineer for artists that includes Janet Jackson, Prince, Usher, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams and more. He’s earned two Grammy Awards — Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album in 2001 for his work on Gladys Knight’s “At Last,” as well as Best Pop Solo Performance in 2015 for mixing Williams’ number one hit “Happy” live.
“Usher, Pharrell, or whomever I’m working with — they want to hear the show like a record,” says Hamilton. “So I multi-track the entire rehearsal while I’m in the same room as the band; let them do their thing. Then when they have a break, I play back what I’ve captured and then subsequently mix it like I would do in the studio. So then, at the end of the day when you add a PA, you know your foundation is right.”
Hamilton has been using this technique throughout his career. When he first signed on with Usher, he worked directly with Harman in comparing dozens of monitor models in on-site listening tests, ultimately selecting the “natural sound” of the JBL 708P. “When I listen to these speakers, for this genre of music, it gives me the perspective of listening to the record,” he explains. “When I listened to them in their flat response — no EQ, just straight flat speaker — it took me back to when I first heard his body of music, mainly the Confessions album.
“I have to be in the same mind space, and when I sat down and listened to them it was just a nice, warm, kind of fuzzy feeling,” he continues. “It was not harsh. It was just everything I was looking for in order to do what I needed to do for this.”
Hamilton is currently on tour with Pharrell, with major upcoming festival appearances including Something in the Water, BottleRock Napa Valley and Essence Festival scheduled for this spring and summer.