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Saxophonist David Sanborn Chooses QSC TouchMix

Six-time Grammy Award winner utilizes TouchMix-8 and TouchMix-16 compact digital mixers in the studio and onstage.

Six-time Grammy Award winner David Sanborn initially took up the saxophone while recovering from a childhood bout with polio, jammed with bluesman Albert King at only 14 years old, and played the iconic sax solo on David Bowie’s “Young Americans,” for starters.

He’s played with countless artists and bands on the stage and in the studio. In both his studio and live environments, Sanborn relies on TouchMix-8 and TouchMix-16 compact digital mixers from QSC to craft his own in-ear monitor mix.


“The first time that I used the TouchMix-16, the clarity and depth of tone reproduced by the EQ section made it a winner for me,” says Sanborn. “I find the very same thing in the very compact and portable TouchMix-8. I have one in my suitcase for my hotel rooms, and the crew have one in the road cases for the dressing room.”

“In the studio, Sanborn uses the TouchMix-16,” says his longtime gear tech Steve Guest. “We connect his sax microphone directly to a Y-split. One leg goes to the TouchMix and the other goes to the main recording console. The console then feeds him stems such as guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and vocals if we have them. He prefers his in-ear monitors wired over wireless, so he simply uses the headphone out of the TouchMix.”

“That way, Sanborn doesn’t have to talk to anyone to change something in his mix,” adds tour manager William Roche. “Whether you’re recording or giving a live show, it can really interrupt the moment and affect your performance if you have to get a monitor engineer’s attention because you can’t hear yourself or something else you need to. With the TouchMix right there at his fingertips, there’s no danger of that.”

Team Sanborn also appreciates the audio quality of the TouchMix-16 at high volume levels. “David is the kind of guy who likes to hear things loud,” explains Guest. “When we were monitoring through floor wedges, we’d be living on the brink of feedback every night. With the TouchMix and in-ears, he can have his mix as loud as he likes. Using the scenes function, he has a basic scene template that he can reload to start from scratch if necessary. This includes the EQ curve he likes for his sax, which we worked out in the studio.”

“The headphone output on the TouchMix is incredibly clean, even if you turn it up so loud that it hurts,” elaborates Roche with a chuckle. “Sanborn swears that there’s something about the circuitry in the TouchMix, including that EQ, which helps him hear his horn exactly how he likes it.”

The TouchMix-8 comes into play as Sanborn’s faithful traveling companion for both practice and working on ideas while on the road.

“Even though David tours relentlessly, when he’s not onstage he’s still on that sax all day,” notes Roche. “He carries a TouchMix-8 in his luggage along with his sax mic, in-ears, and a few other essentials. He unpacks it in his hotel room wherever we are, and brings it into the dressing room. He uses it for practicing alone as well as with other musicians, and of course it can record ideas right to a USB stick.”

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