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Strength In Smaller Numbers: Setting The Stage For Sara Bareilles On Tour

"We all work together - band and crew - with a level of honesty and efficiency that really adds value to our every move." -- Trey Smith, front of house engineer

Rack-mounted devices, the DL431s are each equipped with 24 mic/line inputs that each feed three separate preamps – two with separate gain controls, and a third with fixed gain.

“The DL431s are basically 3-way, active splitters in our scheme,” Twist says. “The way we have it setup, the A and B preamps in the units are controllable in 2 and a half dB increments.

“The A side goes to the PRO9 out front, and the B side travels a path to me through a Klark Teknik piece that converts it from the AES50 language the DL431s speak into MADI for my Profile. All of our input comes from these two Midas DL431s.

“What we gain from all this is a reduced noise floor throughout the entire system, along with the sound of a Midas preamp on my console. In blind tests I’ve done with Spectrum Sound, people pretty much choose the sound of a Midas preamp over that of the VENUE preamps a majority of the time.”

Painting The Soundscape
Onstage, all musicians use ears for monitoring courtesy of Shure PSM900 systems, although Bareilles supplements the personal monitoring devices with a trio of M4 wedges from d&b audiotechnik.

Joshua Day’s drum kit, which Smith likes to feature prominently in his house mixes.(click to enlarge)

Serving as confidence monitors more than anything, the d&b wedges provide Bareilles with some foldback for her voice and piano when she sometimes removes one of her earpieces.

Twist mixes for the band pretty much in a fashion you’d expect: very stereo with each of their instruments up, nothing really unusual going on, everyone listening to each other. “We probably went through 15 or 20 different reverb sounds on the console before we found one that painted the right soundscape for Sara,” he recalls.

Listing a Massey L2007 as a favorite plug-in he uses as a mastering limiter across everyone’s mix, Twist adds, “My plug-ins are straightahead, but the one thing I call upon as a supplement to what’s on the console is a Serato Series dynamic EQ from Rane. It helps Sara listen to the high-end on her vocals with less cymbal bleed. I have it set so that if she comes off the mic, it pulls out enough of the bleed so it’s not overbearing.

Bareilles at the piano on her recent tour. (click to enlarge)

“For drums I use the SPL Transient Designer. It adds a little extra polish that’s hard to create in the low-end when you’re on ears, especially in the floor toms and kick drum.”

A reality these days for many touring acts, taking a “PA du jour” approach to life on the road has its advantages and disadvantages. “Line arrays are getting more consistent, and that’s a much-appreciated trend,” Smith adds. “Many times we find ourselves with a (JBL) VerTec rig, or an (L-Acoustics) V-DOSC, and then there’s a lot of EV (Electro-Voice) stuff. I EQ a lot. My board is pretty much set from night-to-night, from there I just dial-in everything else and make it the best I can.”

In addition to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, venues hosting this tour act included the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, Orlando’s Amway Center, and the Hollywood Palladium. Having toured relentlessly since 2010, Bareilles is rumored to be ready to return to the studio shortly, as well as reveal her next steps on the road.

Gregory A. DeTogne is a writer and editor who has served the pro audio industry for the past 30 years.

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