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“Ultimate USO Show” Takes The Stage In Colorado With Allen & Heath

"One-man band" Neal Johnson of Clearwing Productions manages show with help from an SQ-5 mixer and GX4816 stage box.
The scene at the “Ultimate USO Show” in Estes Park, where the SQ MixPad app let lone audio engineer Neal Johnson dial in the stage monitors.

The “Ultimate USO Show,” a tribute event featuring live performances by impersonators of legends such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Marilyn Monroe, recently visited at the Estes Park Fairgrounds and Events Center in Colorado, with the Denver office of Clearwing Productions supporting the event with an Allen & Heath SQ-5 mixer and GX4816 stage box.

“I was basically a one-man band when it came to running this show’s audio,” notes Neal Johnson, systems designer for Clearwing Productions Denver, who managed the task. “To compound matters, shortly after I arrived I was informed that horses were going to be traveling through my cable path at times, and I couldn’t bury my lines. It’s a good thing I had the SQ-5, because all I had to do was disconnect a single Cat-5 cable, then plug it back in once they had passed. I didn’t have to worry about not having enough manpower to deal with restoring cumbersome patching each time.”

The SQ-5 and stage box was supplied Dean Hinton and Travis Stefl of Louisville, CO-based Pro Tech Marketing. With 14 inputs coming from the stage for star vocals and The Ron Davis Big Band, Johnson managed four monitor mixes with the SQ-5 as well.

“I used virtually every feature the desk had,” he explains. “Its peak/RMS compressor, four-band parametric EQ, a raft of vintage outboard hardware emulations, gated reverbs, and delays from the RackExtra FX package it is
equipped with right out of the box. Filling the outdoor dimensions of the space properly would have been difficult without all those tools at my disposal.” Confined to a working area in the grandstands no bigger than the compact SQ-5 itself, Johnson utilized Allen & Heath’s SQ MixPad app to access the console remotely while dialing in the wedge monitors on stage.

“Even working alone I nailed it all pretty quickly,” he adds. “It’s much easier when you can stand right next to the performers and ask them what they want to hear. I initially thought I was bringing more console than I needed. But if I ever find myself in a situation like this again, I won’t leave home without it.”

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