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Styx Engineer Chris Hoff Employing JBL 7 Series Monitors To Help Dial In The House PA

Veteran live engineer uses the previous night’s multitrack recording played though Series 7 monitors as reference for live house systems.
JBL Series 7 monitors at Chris Hoff's mix position with Styx on tour.

Styx front of house engineer Chris “Cookie” Hoff is utilizing JBL 7 Series reference monitors as a tool for dialing in house systems deployed for the band’s live performances.

When Styx began touring to support The Mission, its latest studio album, Hoff was brought onboard to deliver consistent sound in a wide range of venues, including some with less-than-desirable mix positions, which is where the JBL 7 Series monitors at Hoff’s mix position come into play.

“We multitrack every show and I needed a way to compare the live mix I’m doing to the albums,” Hoff explains. “The only way to really replicate what’s going to be coming out of a PA is to have reference monitors in front of you. It makes it easier for me to bounce back and forth between the album and my multi-tracks to try to match up effects, balances and panning. The 7 Series monitors give me a great reference to what I’m actually sending to the PA. When I’m in a really bad mix position, I’m basically mixing off of these and trusting that what I’m feeding to the speakers is translating to the audience.”

JBL 7 Series monitors incorporate custom transducers utilizing the company’s patented Differential Drive technology designed to provide linear low-end performance. “The phase response on the 708 monitors is awesome, they don’t hide anything,” Hoff says. “The transient response is exactly what I need out of reference monitors—and the low-end is definitely there. I can make accurate judgments on what I’m doing on the bottom-end of my mix.”

Before each show, Hoff uses the previous night’s multitrack recording to help tune the PA: “I felt that what I was doing on the 708 monitors translated better through a full field PA than the other models did—especially with JBL technology like the VTX Series and the A Series. The clarity, the low distortion and the transients all translated well from the 708 monitors to the PA. You don’t realize how loud it is until you pull out a meter and go, ‘oh okay, yeah got it.’ The distortion is so low that you don’t have that perception of the SPL. The 7 Series has no problems pushing over the top of the flown PA level when I need it to.

“One of the blessings, and possible curses, of a live performance is that the audience will in no uncertain terms let you know how you are doing,” he concludes. “They either comment at front of house on their way out of the venue or speak to the band after the show. Fortunately, I have received overwhelmingly positive responses from the concertgoers. Much of this I have to attribute to the band being exceptional performers. As long as I can get my process done and get out of their way, the band shines through.”

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