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All Access: On Tour With Muse

Behind the scenes with Marc Carolan and his crew.

By Jeff MacKay April 21, 2010

The audio crew touring with Muse. Take the PSW Photo Gallery Tour!

British alternative rock band Muse has been busy touring the world, having already played shows in Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia in 2010, all before starting a North American tour in February that sees them cross the continent, playing 26 shows before continuing to Europe this summer.

North American audiences have finally caught onto the act, which hails from England and has seen success globally for some time now over their five-album career. The full-fledged arena tour in support of the band’s latest album, The Resistance, has U.K.-based Skan PA Hire providing sound reinforcement, utilizing a mix of analog and digital products.

Front of House engineer Marc Carolan, who has toured with the group for almost a decade, is instrumental in selecting what products are being deployed on the tour, including his Midas XL4 console.  “I’ve always mixed on an XL4,” he explains. “I’m not one of those guys who insists on using an analog console, but I do prefer its tonality.” He adds that the previous tour utilized digital consoles, but he decided this time to shift back to his preferred XL4.

His outboard rack is packed with a wide assortment of options. “I use Empirical Labs Distressors with a BSS DPR-901 for vocalist/guitarist Matthew Bellamy—he can be quite the mic dodger with his technique,” laughs Carolan. “On bass and guitar are a pair of Tube-Tech LCA2Bs with DPR-901s as well—I use a lot of 901s. For drums, dbx 160s on kick and snare, with a KuSh Audio UBK Fatso dual-channel compressor for the drum overhead mics.”

Gating is handled by Drawmer 201s, with XTA G2s on the toms. He uses dbx 166XLs for “housekeeping” compression, “just to keep everything clean.” A George Massenburg Labs GML8200 parametric EQ is inserted with the XL4 to add a touch of “color.” Further choices include processors from Sound Performance Lab (SPL) and Smart Research.

Carolan has his personal favorites for effects, including a Bricasti M7, which he states are “the most delicious sounding reverbs in the world. Reverb is something I don’t usually get excited about, but the M7 sounds just fantastic.” He also applies a pair of Eventide H3000s as well as Line 6 Echo Pros for delays and Yamaha SPX2000s for drum reverb as well as for specific songs. “I like to use different flavors for different songs – variety’s good.”

When mixing, Carolan tries to have some consistency with respect to the sound of the band’s albums, but doesn’t let that be a limitation in putting his own stamp on the live sound.

“There are some cues from the album that are needed, but it does truly have its own live energy,” he expounds. “They’re not strictly trying to adhere to the album, but there are some dynamic moments and effects cues that I will use. It’s an amalgamation of both. You don’t want to completely match an album’s sound, because if you’re overly specific with it, you can end up with a lifeless mix.”

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Terry Nelson says

111dBA - 111dbC - 111dB spl unweighted?

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