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More Can Be Much More On The Current Black Keys Tour

Behind the scenes on an audio approach that's loud, proud, and unmediated.
There may be a lot of amps, pedals, and switches, but the Black Keys’ Let’s Rock Tour is at heart a minimalist, no-frills approach to live sound. (Photo by Steve Jennings)

By maintaining a tight line of communication with the techs as well, Tarulli is also able to ward off excessive levels onstage by letting them know when conditions exist in the house where engaging that cool stomp-box pedal good for 10 dB of gain onstage is going to wreak havoc everywhere else.

Monitor engineer Neal Jensen (left) and monitor tech Drew Lewis preside over an onstage “universal head space” filled with wedges and side fills. (Photo by Steve Jennings)

Input on stage is approached as organically as one might expect for this band, starting at under 12 channels of drums with a largely Sennheiser mic package including a host of cardioid e 604s and e 904s punctuated by Shure SM57s on snares and Neumann overheads. Vocal mics across the board are sE Electronics V7 dynamic supercardioid models, chosen for both their clarity and side rejection characteristics.

“The v7s virtually eliminated bleed from both sides,” Jensen reports. “As icing on the cake, I also added a Rupert Neve Designs Primary Source Enhancer as an insert on Dan’s vocals and set it to provide a 6-9 dB cut when he’s not standing right in front of his mic. That way, when he moves away from it – which he does frequently – Mount Shredmore right behind him doesn’t invade that channel. That’s something we clearly want to avoid, and this Neve unit is certainly up to the task.”

Patrick Carney helping drive the band forward from behind a drum kit using a complement of Sennheiser, Shure, and Neumann mics. (Photo by Steve Jennings)

Giant Home Stereo

Stage monitoring borrows freely from time-honored techniques. After being onstage with Neil Young and experiencing the full impact of his monitor rig, Dan Auerbach purchased four horn-loaded, 2 x 15 Maryland Sound cabinets identical to those Young has used for decades to help produce his hallmark levels of overdriven guitar and feedback loops. Now serving as pillars of the Black Keys’ monitoring efforts, Jensen powers the household appliance-size boxes with four Lab Gruppen FP10000Q amplifiers providing 2,500 watts per channel.

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