JPS Australia

History

Maroon 5

Maroon 5 2

Photo: Vince Casamatta and system engineer Mathew McQuaid

Vince Casamatta learnt his trade mixing bands in small, Chicago dives eventually expanding to going on the road. At the same time he had his own studio and truthfully, he always wanted to be a studio mixer.

But this is just what ended up working out!” he said. “I still occasionally mix an EP or album but mainly for indie artists.

On the Maroon 5’s Red Pill Blues tour, Vince is the new guy although he has been with them for nearly a year.

This is one of those camps where people have been around for a really long time,” he added. “I think a lot of people have many opinions on what Maroon 5 should sound like so initially it was challenging to navigate my way through that, but these guys were all very good at giving me space to do my own thing. Although Maroon 5 write a lot of pop-leaning songs, they are very much a rock band and want to be treated as such live.

Maroon 5 7Vince was clearly enjoying mixing for a real rock band that can all play together without any backing tracks, saying these sort of acts were becoming less and less.

It’s very much a rock mix that I want out of the gates to grab you and be surrounded in,” he elaborated. “I don’t want it to be a wall of sound that just hits you for an hour and a half. I don’t think anybody enjoys that. I try to find places to work with the dynamics of the musical arrangements and sometimes accentuate them so you can hit hard for a bit and then pull back. These guys are really aware of those things anyway with their set list choices and live arrangements, I’m just trying to present that the best way I can.

As a fan of DiGiCo consoles, Vince opted for an SD5 favouring its’ work flow and complexity. As well as some outboard gear, he had a Waves SoundGrid server running up on the SD5, with anything that needs to be automated going on the server and anything that is static for the entire show in his outboard rack. The Waves plugins mainly group compression and parallel compression which gave the mix flavor and texture as the DiGiCo is such a neutral surface to begin with, according to Vince.

The API 2500 is a great compressor and the SSL Quad compressor is always good to add parallel compression to drum busses,” added Vince. “I really like the API 560 EQ plugin on the kick and snare buss; as it’s a live drummer his dynamic changes throughout the set, and the API 560 allows me to re-tailor how the drums are sitting in the mix on the fly.

On the road, you don’t know what kind of support you’re going to have so I like to keep things as simple as possible so if things go wrong, you can troubleshoot them easily,” he said.

Maroon 5 6Outboard gear included a Bricasti M7 for Adam’s main effect reverb with Vince using Midi triggers from the snapshots to change patches in the Bricasti. A Tube-Tech CL 2A is used for a compressor on Adam’s vocal and spare vocal, whilst a Neve 5045 primary source enhancer saves Vince a few headaches as most of the show designs feature Adam in front of the PA for nearly the entire set. However in Australia the set was scaled back with a design that kept Adam behind the PA!

He’s always in a different place with respect to the PA, L-Acoustics being so tonally linear as you walk through it is helpful but the Neve 5045 is super helpful,” explained Vince.

Maroon 5 5PA was an L-Acoustics K1/K2, K1 main and sides with K2 below with the sub configuration often changing depending on the venue.

We are flying K1 for main and side hangs with K2 below, so that we keep the coverage consistent close to the stage,” explained Vince. “Rear hangs are almost always K2 only. K1SB are always flown directly behind the main K1 hang for added low extension and punch. We also use a cardioid sub arc on the floor. All powered by LA12x wherever possible. One of our main concern in design is how to keep low end off the deck so the band aren’t rattling around up there. Mathew McQuaid is responsible for overseeing the entire design process and has done a great job of maximizing FOH coverage while nulling the low end on the deck.

Systems engineer Mathew McQuaid used Soundvision, L-Acoustics’ proprietary acoustic prediction software, and Rational Acoustics Smaart 8 to align the system each night.

There are a lot of good PAs on the market and you can have a great show with many of them,” said Vince. “This is the most vocal forward mix I have ever had and the L-Acoustics has made me feel like I’m not fighting myself as far as where the vocal sits in the mix. I want a really cool, rock-sounding mix but I don’t want to sacrifice the fact the vocals have to be over top, in fact the vocal presence has been pretty easy to dial in.

The band are Shure endorsees with lead singer Adam Levine using the Shure Axient system and singing into a black SM58, a no frills approach that Vince admires and although Adam beats the mic and tosses it into the crowd every show, it always holds up.

It’s the right approach to pick a microphone that is tried and true, meat and potatoes, nothing fancy as he basically uses it for everything but a hammer,” laughed Vince. “With this show, I have been less concerned with microphones than with other acts and I don’t really know why that is. I have the new D12 kick mic, a dynamic microphone that, when supplied with phantom power has a few different EQ curves. I have a 57 on snare top which sounds great, all no frills. If you have a good band with good tones and a great mixing console, a lot of it is just getting out of the way and letting it happen.

The band changed a lot of the guitars to Fractals from Royer Ribbon mics, which Vince says sound way better and sit in the mix well taking up less headroom. With seven people on stage headroom becomes a real challenge quickly.

Monitor engineer Bill Chrysler mixed on an Avid VENUE S6L-32D with the latest version of Waves SoundGrid. Most of the plugins he used were in the console, with the exception of Adam Levine’s vocal reverb, which is a Waves TrueVerb.

Everyone has both IEMs and wedges, except the bass player who has no IEMs and Adam who only has IEMs.

The wedges help to retain a bit of vibe onstage as stages become quieter and more isolated, it’s a way for the band to feel connected,” commented Vince.

JPJ Audio supplied the tour.

Maroon 5 4

This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine April 2019. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues. Read all editions for free or search their archive www.cxnetwork.com.au

Florence + The Machine

Florence Machine 1

Florence + The Machine returned to Australia in January for a string of national headline dates. Having released their fourth album, High As Hope, just last year, fans were clearly eager to catch these stunning tunes live, with almost every show on their Australian tour having sold out months in advance.

FOH engineer Brad Madix is currently on his first tour cycle with the band having started rehearsals last March. Brad, an award-winning, Grammy-nominated live, broadcast and recording engineer, has had an illustrious career working with artists such as Linkin Park, Rush, Jack White, Beck, Van Halen, Shakira, Alanis Morissette, Jane’s Addiction, Shania Twain, Def Leppard, and many more international acts.

Florence Machine 2

JPJ Audio were the audio supplier with the tour utilizing a Clair Cohesion Series PA assuring uniform coverage in all venues regardless of acoustic challenges or sightlines. This was certainly put to the test in Australia with the show being held in arenas, outdoor venues, as part of a festival and also a Day on the Green.

I would say a typical set up would be 16 x CO12 deep, left and right, and then six subs per side with 12 CO8s for outfill,” said Brad. “However, that changed day to day on this tour due to the variety of situations we were in.

Brad describes the Clair Cohesion Series as simply a great sounding PA, from top to bottom, that provides really nice clarity and is easy to put up.

I’m very happy with the sonic characteristics of the Cohesion Series,” he added. “Their sub system is particularly great, even though this is not a sub heavy band. I also have a great working relationship with Clair and continuity of people and equipment is important to me as we travel around the world.

Brad was mixing on an Avid VENUE S6L with no outboard gear and only the plugins that come with the console in use. He was recording on a Diablo Digital x MacPro Server Pro Tools recorder.

I use the Pro Compressor plugin a lot as well as the BF76 and for effects I use Mod Delay III and ReVibe II and that’s pretty much it,” said Brad. “I try to keep it simple. Florence is an excellent singer but can be tricky to mix because her voice is extremely dynamic. The main thing I have to do is compress her in a way that it doesn’t sound compressed whilst keeping the level in a certain ballpark. I use two instantiations of Pro Compressor, one is a really hard compressor but it is blended back and second one is a DeEsser because that can also be tricky with her. Effects on her include a warm, dark reverb (ReVibe II) and a little delay which we actually feed back into the reverb instead of the PA resulting in a long tail reverb.

Brad remarked that his main challenge is getting a lot of dynamic range to fit into a large scale performance. In Sydney, Florence + The Machine played to 28,000 people in The Domain and everyone needed to hear everything. No mean task, but as every performer is a great musician and singer, Brad could really focus on the levels of Florence’s vocals and the quality of the vocal sound.

All performers were on Sennheiser IEMs mixed on a DiGiCo SD5 by Annette Guilfoyle.

JPJ were great and it’s weird to say this but it was seamless, you didn’t really notice the change from venue to venue as everything was handled with no hiccups,” added Brad. “The guys were really friendly too so I was very happy.

Gallery

All Photos ©Brad Madix

 

The Presets

The Presets 1

Legendary Australian electronic duo The Presets have been back on the road promoting their Hi Viz album and JPJ Audio were with them all the way.

Having used an Avid Profile console for many years, FOH engineer Craig Gordon was keen to take an Avid Venue S6L console, with Waves card, on this tour and now he doesn’t want anything else!

I love the Venue S6L and will find it hard to go back to a Profile,” he admitted. “I did a show last night with The Presets using a Profile and it was definitely not as good! The S6L certainly sounds better and there are way more options to customise the surface to how you want to use it. You can move all the groups and channels to wherever you want and set layouts, which you couldn’t do on the old console. You have outputs and auxes all on the same page, wherever you want to put them – and I really missed that last night on the Profile.

Craig says that mixing for The Presets is fairly straightforward, as they have good backing tracks and decent sound coming to him.

The Presets 2
We had to do a few little things with Kim’s toms because he has really dead sounding disco toms but we figured it out with a few plugins,” added Craig.

Julian had his own effects for his vocal onstage to which Craig sometimes added some distortion or reverb just to beef up what he is already being sent. The majority of the effects were Midi timecoded so through the songs they change to different presets which is all done onstage.

I mainly use the dynamic stuff in the rack and a few plugins onboard like a C6 but not too many,” said Craig. The outboard rack is pretty good with Alan Smart Research C2 stereo comps and Puigchild compressors. I still like to have the knobs and visual more than the plugins.”

The tour utilised inhouse PA systems but carried extra d&b B22 subs to reinforce the low end which worked well and was particularly useful in the smaller venues. The exception was Melbourne’s Forum Theatre where JPJ provided an L-Acoustics V-DOSC system.

Microphones were a Shure package as the band have been Shure endorsees for a long time. Vocals were Shure BETA 58s on UR radios, a standard Shure drum package of BETA 52s, KSM overheads and KSM 32s.

Cam Elias ran monitors on an Avid Profile using Shure PSM1000 IEMs.

JPJ Crew: Stacey Handley, Tim Lonergan

Led Zeppelin Evening as Bonham

Jason Bonham 1

Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening As Bonham garnered rave reviews as it toured through the country in May. The concert celebrates the life and music of his father, the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, and it was clear that this was a gig FOH engineer Tim Millikan was enjoying immensely.

I’m like a dog with ten dicks at the moment!” he enthused. “It’s astounding, if you close your eyes you’d swear it was Led Zeppelin. The set goes for up to 2&¾ hours and covers a broad range of Led Zeppelin material. Having grown up listening to Led Zeppelin, I felt that I had been mixing it forever. There were times during the first show when I had to look up to check it wasn’t Robert Plant singing.

Tim Millikan

JPJ Audio provided a FOH control package with inhouse PA systems used around the country. Out front, Tim decided upon an Avid Profile simply due to its ease of use and availability around the country and in New Zealand.

I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to the tour so I thought I’d best make it easy on myself,” he explained. “I also have a couple of Avalon VT-737 out front for vocals and that’s about it. It’s a pretty stock standard package without much extra in the outboard world.

However Tim remarked that there was quite a lot going on with onboard effects including pitch shifters going into a SansAmp for some crunch and distortion on the vocal.

I run the pitch shift return pretty hard into that at times for the vocal effects such as in No Quarter and Since I’ve Been Loving You,” added Tim. “I have a super heavy duty flanger that I run the drum kit through for the big drum fill sections in Kashmir. There’s a long delay with a single repeat at about 600 milliseconds for all the extended vocal Robert Plant stuff and the rest is all short verbs just to sweeten things up. I don’t try to effect it too much preferring to let the band do its own thing. The keyboard sounds are fantastic and he’s clearly done a lot of work to replicate the Led Zeppelin sound. So a lot of it comes to me already sitting pretty well, the balances between patches is great and there are no issues there.

Tim added that he is not overly compressing anything, just some multiband compression to tickle groups so it doesn’t get too out of control when they’re really going for it.

He spent more time concentrating on the overhead sound of the kit in general so when Jason hits the cymbals, they’re big and rich.

I aim for a very natural sound using very light gating on the drums. It’s so super dynamic, you can’t squash it down too much and hold it in a position. I’ve got a C6 Multiband Compressor running over my master buss and I’m using that into an L3 Multimaximizer for a little bit of mastering on the output just to keep it in check.

As it is such a long show, Tim explained that he tries to keep the sound level at around 95dB despite having had some people say it should be louder.

For 2 ¾ hours that would be uncomfortable,” he said. “I can tighten up or loosen up the low end of my master stage to give a little more power when it needs it and pull it back when I want to keep it under control.

Monitors were taken care of by Conor Dunne on a DiGiCo SD10 running Sennhieser IEMs and Shure radio mics. Jason also has a robust Stereo drum fill in the form of an L-Acoustics SB118 sub with an ARC II on top.

It’s pretty loud onstage which in smaller venues makes it pretty tough,” said Tim. “The guitar player has a pair of 100 watt Marshalls running pretty hot plus there are two Ampeg SVT 8 X 10 rigs for the bass. The keyboard rig had a couple of Nord Stage 2s then there are a couple of acoustic guitars and a mandolin.
Jason has a Crown CM311 head-worn condenser microphone as he sings in a couple of songs but mainly talks in between songs, although sometimes he also uses a Shure KSM9 radio mic.

For the drums there is a Shure Beta 52 on the kick drum (no hole in the kick drum so it’s placed directly in front), Shure 57s on top and bottom of snare, Shure 181 on hats and ride, Sennheiser 421s on toms and 414s on overheads. Guitars are Sennheiser e906 and Audio Technica ATM450 whilst vocals are Sennheiser e945 and e935. DIs were a combination of Radial J48s and JDIs as well as Countrymans.

Tim was clearly in his element with this tour adding that the band’s crew were great and that Jason himself is a lovely bloke, in fact it’s one of the most chilled and casual tours he’s done in a while. And Tim must have done something right as he has been asked to join the American run ….. work Visa pending.
Rule number one of touring – don’t leave home without your passport!

 

Russell Peters Qudos Arena Sydney

Russell Peters 1

The audio system JPJ Audio supplied for Russell Peters is amongst the largest we would routinely put in to Qudos Arena. In fact there were more speaker cabinets than we would hang for an average rock concert in the same space!

This is because comedy relies on high intelligibility in the vocal range. If the audience can’t hear every joke, in every seat, they are not going to enjoy the show. If the audience can’t hear, they won’t laugh at the jokes, and this will impact the comedian’s performance (especially if the front rows can’t hear!!!).

Russell Peters 2This clear audio is achieved through acoustic modelling of the venue prior to arrival, careful placement of the PA hangs, and having enough speaker boxes to achieve the required SPL. This is all sound checked by walking around the edge of every seating block in the venue, with a handheld radio mic and making adjustments to the different PA zones. This verifies that every seat in the house can hear every joke.



Russell Peters 3The main hangs were two hangs of 12 x L-Acoustics K1 and 6 x L-Acoustics K2 with two hangs of 12 x L-Acoustics K2 for side hangs. Frontfill was 6 x single L-Acoustics Kara, outfill was 4 x L-Acoustics Arcs and subs were 12 x L-Acoustics SB28 Subwoofer Enclosures. All powered by L-Acoustics LA-8 and LA-12 amplifiers.

A Dante drive system using Dolby LM44’s was utilized and this involved running a completely digital signal path from the FOH console all the way to the amplifiers via AES and Dante signal processing.

A seamless back-up analogue audio fallback is also in every system using DANTE. Back-up systems and engineer comfort are critical to industry acceptance, so are always at the forefront of all JPJ Audio designed systems.

FOH engineer for the tour was James Kilpatrick on an Avid Profile with Waves 9. James used a C6 multiband compressor to keep the speech clear at low level and cut the horn band back when shouting. He also had a vocal rider live in reverse to keep the mic level low in between pauses in speech to reduce room tone in the microphone.

Russell Peters 4

Crew:

FOH systems engineer: Tim Seconi
FOH systems technician: Bianca Martin
Monitors systems engineer: Kellie McKee
PA technician: Ben Northmore
Special Guest Appearance Multicores and front fill trainee: Mats Frankl

 


Paul McCartney 2017

Paul McCartney 2017

Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 21-time Grammy Award winner and recipient of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Sir Paul McCartney brought his acclaimed long-running One On One Tour to Australia this December, his first Australian tour since 1993’s The New World Tour more than 24 years ago.

The show featured nearly three hours’ worth of the greatest moments from the last 50 years of music, dozens of songs that have formed the soundtracks of our lives. FOH engineer Paul Boothroyd – known more commonly in the industry as Pab – has been with Sir Paul for a fair portion of this journey.

I first started working for him in 1989,” said Pab. “As well as being on stage for three hours, he also does a one hour sound check every day. With line checks and system checks as well, I’m probably behind the console twiddling knobs for five hours so it’s quite an extensive day technically.

That FOH console was an Avid Venue S6L which Pab has used ever since it was released and he describes it as one of the best consoles on the market. Pab’s S6L carries dialed-in snapshots for more than 100 songs.

It’s very powerful and has massive capability,” remarked Pab. “My vocal chain for Paul is fairly straightforward; I’m using a Sonnox Oxford EQ and Avid Pro compressor. For effects there are some general reverbs (short, medium and large), a little bit of delay ADT and that’s it. There’s no playback or inputs from anywhere else, it’s all live.

Plug-ins that are used sparingly include Smack!, ReVibe II, ReVibe I on drums and Mod Delay III.

JPJ Audio supplied the crew and gear for the tour including their Clair Brothers’ Cohesion Series for PA. At the Sydney show indoors at Qudos Bank Arena, Pab had sixteen CO12 L+R, fourteen CO12 LL+RR, twelve CO12 LLL+RRR, six CP218 Subs flown per side, three CP218 Subs per side ground stacked and twelve CO8 for front fill.

It’s absolutely the PA of choice for me,” said Pab. “I find it very flexible, light, and simple to manage. It delivers great results and is very accurate.

The stage is fairly loud with only Wixy (musical director/multi-instrumentalist Paul “Wix” Wickens) wearing IEMs. The rest of the band opts for Clair R4 sidefills with ML18 subs and SRM wedges. Monitor engineer John “Grubby” Callis uses an analog Midas Heritage H3000.

It’s very old-school rock and roll,” says Pab. “It’s loud sidefills and wedges up there because he likes to rock out.

Microphones were a mixed bag with Pabs never swayed by fashion or freebies preferring to apply the correct microphone to suit the job.

I like Audix on the drums and Shure for the vocals,” he added. “Paul’s very happy with the SM58A because he’s used to it – there may be a better microphone to suit his vocals these days but he is very used to what he has had for the past thirty years. So why change?

Having not toured Australia for a good few years, Pab says he was very pleased to be greeted with such a professional JPJ team, a very happy team who just dealt with anything that was asked.

Thanks JPJ for the fun and hard work, greatly appreciated,” he added.

One On One Tour Crew

Paul McCartney crew
Back row: Joel Larson, Alex McCormack, Tim Seconi, and Andrew Dowling SE from Clair Global
Front row: Tech Sean Baca, FOH engineer Paul ‘Pab’ Boothroyd, monitor engineer John ‘Grubby’ Callis, and monitors system engineer Paul Swan.

 

AFL 2017 Grand Final

AFL Grand Final 2017

JPJ Audio took over designing and operating the audio system for the AFL Grand Final entertainment six years ago and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. This year The Killers absolutely nailed it with an incredible performance that won them universal praise.

For sound designer James ‘Oysters’ Kilpatrick the biggest hurdle is the sheer size of the playing field, which is around 500 metres in circumference, and the fact that everything has to be set up in matter of minutes. Of course, it also has to be taken down in an equally short amount of time.

We do a rehearsal during the week where it all has to be wheeled out and struck down afterwards, and then we do a soundcheck and out it all goes again,” said Oysters. “We also have a large amount of outputs as we’re driving the TV OB for the music, sending a mix with ambient mics to Triple M plus feeding the ground and the media. It takes us about a week to wire and thoroughly check all of the outputs as there are so many including various mix minus feeds.

Oysters ran an Avid Profile mainly because he wanted stability and the Waves Plugins to run without the complication of a server but also because of its’ small footprint as space is premium. He also required a console that was capable of running ProTools whilst at the same time, could add markers for memories via snapshots, as the rehearsals are recorded on the Thursday and on the Friday there are more rehearsals running everything off the ProTools to the broadcast truck. The reliability of the Avid Profile was also a major factor in its choice especially as the weather and temperature can be quite erratic in Melbourne at that time of year.

At FOH control with Oysters this year were Tim Millikan and Ryan Fallis, with Oysters sending his outputs to Tim to distribute via matrix mixers, line drivers and active splitters. Everything that Oysters had on his console was mirrored onto Tim’s DiGiCo SD11 in case Oysters console was to fail. Ryan looked after the fully redundant ProTools replay and would also send everything he was doing to Channel 7. All control gear was on a UPS and were all timed, with JPJ doing extensive power failure tests in the factory leading up to the event.

It was all fibre with Channel 7 directly to me so that was a bit easier than years previously,” added Oysters. “Tim and Bowden Birkett (JPJ Audio’s head system engineer) could actually change any part of the PA or any part of the zoning, or even the levels to Channel 7 without asking me.

 

It’s important to remember that this is a TV show, not a concert, which can be a hard thing for people to get their head around. It’s not only live in the ground, its going live to millions people, there is no waiting till somebody is ready, it just rolls ready or not.

You have to use wind socks as it’s our windiest month in Melbourne and it really swirls around the ground,” said Oysters. “RF can also be a problem and in the past, it has failed. This year Frontier production bought in Peter Cochrane from ARTICULATE Communications to manage all of the RF and communications. He lowered the power on all of the radios, allotted all of the frequencies and it worked incredibly well. Everyone is on in-ears because without them the amount of slap back in the playing field is disorientating.

Sixteen carts of d&b audiotechnik cabinets were wheeled out, each cart holding three d&b J Series cabinets.

The ground runs in mono with redundant loops of signal and power so the most you could lose would be two or three carts,” said Oysters. “We can even broadcast for about 15 to 20 minutes without power although the speakers would fail. We could have run it with fibre but that would have got quite complex and I try to keep it as simple as possible, especially as so many complex things have failed at this event in the past. Eventually it will be entirely networked but when we do that, we’ll probably run it in the shop for a month before.

Oysters remarked that this years’ show by The Killers was the best yet, even though the band was so complex he didn’t take a full split of all of their gear.

As they have so many electronics such as sequencers, synthesizers and keyboards, we had that all bussed down a series of stems by Marty Beath,” he explained. “We took the vocals, guitars and drums all separate but it was condensed across sixteen lines instead of say fifty-six.

Once the footy had finished, The Killers performed a free show for anyone who wished to attend reverting back to a normal concert set up with FOH and monitors and with Oysters looking after OB to television only.

Southern Stars 2017

Southern Stars 1

Thousands of performers and spectators converged on the WIN Entertainment Centre last month, as the annual Southern Stars school arena show hit town.

More than 3000 student from primary and high schools in the southern schools region performed with the show also including soloists, a 500 piece choir, and orchestra and an indigenous dance company.

Students came from about 120 public schools as far away as Bourke, and the show was touted as the biggest show so far in Southern Stars’ 17-year history.

Southern Stars 2JPJ Audio provided all things audio with a system designed Bob Daniels and implemented by George Gorga whose biggest challenge was a large orchestra mainly comprising of students!
It takes them a while to get used to being in the arena dealing with headphone monitoring, IEMs and the PA running but there’s a point, usually around dress rehearsal, when it all comes together,” he said. “I’m also dealing with a large number of non-professional vocalists but again, it all comes together in the end. Having said that, the musical standard of these kids is extremely high and during the public shows it’s easy to forget that some of these players and performers are only in primary school.

The stage is set traditionally at one end, albeit a bit bigger than a standard stage, and primarily accommodates the orchestra, whilst the arena floor is the main performance area for soloists and dancers. The choir sit in the seating bank behind the stage.
The PA is a central cluster hung above the floor centre,” explained George. “There are three positions; one facing forward and two straight out to the sides. It looks a bit odd as the centre PA is about two metres behind the side clusters but it works really well and they don’t get in the way of each other. The time alignment is ‘physically’ very close to start with and it’s seamless when you walk around the room.

Jack Richardson, system tech for the event, remarked that this is the best sounding configuration he’s had heard in this venue. George admits he had a bit of an advantage in the fact that he only had to cover the seating from a centrally located PA, but insists a lot of the success was down to Bob Daniels’ design.

Southern Stars 5Of course the L-Acoustics K2 system is amazing too,” George added. “It’s my favourite system at the moment. This is the first time we’ve used the K2 on this event and it was a real leap ahead in quality and impact.
FOH George ran an Avid 96-channel Profile console plus a 48-channel DiGiCo SD11. On the Profile he used just about all of the available effects adding his standard TC Electronics M5000 reverb and a Smart C2 compressor over the mix buss.

I use those pretty much all the time and although I could use a plugin for the C2, I’ve got the real thing and it just holds everything together in the mix,” said George. “In a situation like this show where it can be quite unpredictable, the C2 can be a life saver.

Radio microphones were twenty-six systems of Shure Beta 58 with a couple doubling up as guitar packs and DPA 4088 headset systems. Orchestra microphones were assorted with George favouring dynamic microphones such as Shure 57 and 58’s for brass and woodwind.
In this situation, they’re much easier to deal with when you have kids using them,” said George. “I still get the sound I want without using expensive condenser mics. With the constant turn around, the radio mic tech Bianca Martin and her volunteer student crew are kept very busy!

Monitors were taken care of by Bob Daniels on a DiGiCo SD5 with an Aviom headphone system for the orchestra and lots of Sennheiser IEM systems for the singers.

Gallery – click to enlarge

Icehouse – 40 Years Live

Icehouse 40 1

Photo © Troy Constable

With a career spanning 40 years, iconic Australian band Icehouse has continued to delight millions with their music, well-known and loved by audiences across generations. Icehouse began in 1977 as a Sydney-based pub rock band called Flowers, who were the highest paid unsigned act in Australia at the time.

In 2006, Icehouse was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame, being described as ‘…one of the most successful Australian bands of the 80s and 90s’. Icehouse’s 1987 album Man of Colours remains to this day as the highest-selling album in Australia by an Australian band.

With a history like that, it’s no wonder the band have been selling out their 40 Years Live Tour this year as it travels the country … with more dates just announced!

Touring with an audio package from JPJ Audio, the tour utilized in-house PA systems where available with JPJ supplying speaker systems when required. FOH Engineer Richie Robinson, who has mixed for the band since their return to live shows in 2011, used an Avid Venue S6L saying it is one of the best mixing consoles on the market. He travels with absolutely no extra FOH equipment, which reinforces how good the console sounds on its own.

I had used an Avid Profile since 2007 and always loved working on it,” he remarked. “However, it got to a stage where I thought ‘well that’s the sound of it’ and decided to try some other consoles that had better preamps and a more open sound stage. While I usually liked the sound of them, I didn’t fall in love with their operating systems as much as I did with the Avid Venue gear. When the Venue S6L came along and I tried it out, I was blown away with how good it sounded. It’s a real win for Avid and I think you’re going to see a lot more of them.

Icehouse 40 3

Photo © Troy Constable

When Richie used to mix Icehouse on an Avid Profile, he implemented a combination of Waves plug-ins and outboard reverbs but he’s been happy with the way the onboard fx plugins sound with the new console.

With the combination of the new audio engine in the console running at 96khz and the plug-ins running on the AAX DSP cards, even the Avid reverbs sound a whole lot better to me,” added Richie. “I’ve gone back to using the ReVibe reverb which sounds really good and other than that, I bought a few 3rd party plugins for some other eq, compression and saturation flavors. I miss some of my Waves plug-ins but it’s been cathartic to ditch what you’ve been using for so long and just go ‘wow, that sounds so good just straight out of the console!

One 3rd party plug-in that Richie has used often with Icehouse is the Brainworx bx-console channel strip by Plugin Alliance which he implements over many channels. “There’s a subtle character thing going on with that plug-in that suited this band” said Richie.

Richie uses the Snapshot and Layout features on the console for all the songs – mainly for turning on and off required input channels and for keeping the top fader layer populated with the key input elements for each song. He also found that snapshotting the effects on the Venue S6L was a very handy tool. As Iva Davies wrote and produced so many of Icehouse’s tunes, he can be quite specific with the echoes and delays used on the original recorded versions so Richie decided to snapshot all of the echo effects. That way he doesn’t have to worry about adding the correct tap tempo to each song – when he recalls the snapshot to the next song all of the stored effect parameters are recalled.

Microphones were fairly standard with a selection of Shure wired and radio microphones, a couple of AKG414’s for drum overheads plus Sennheiser and Audio-Technica Australia microphones. “We have a Shure KSM9 for when Iva plays an oboe in Man of Colours and that’s probably the funkiest mic we have.” said Richie. “We’ve tried a few different mics on it but that’s the one we kept coming back to.

Icehouse 40 2

Photo © Troy Constable

Onstage, the band are all on Shure PSM1000 IEM’s with most of them using the Shure SE846 ear buds. In addition, Iva has a couple of d&b audiotechnik M4 wedges in front of him as he occasionally removes one of his IEMs. Sidefills are L-Acoustics Arcs with dv-Subs and the drum sub is a pair of d&b Q-subs. Monitor Engineers for the tour were Paul Kennedy (now out with Midnight Oil) and Matt Debien who both used a Yamaha PM5D with an Apogee Big Ben word clock.

The Wombats

Pete Bartlett

The Wombats are currently celebrating the ten year anniversary of their first album, touring Australia with Groovin’ the Moo and performing a few side shows. For the past five years FOH engineer Pete Bartlett has worked with the band as well as his other main act The Pretenders.

The band members and crew were delighted to play a couple of shows at the Sydney Opera House, performing memorable and joyous shows. Let’s face it, it’s not often you witness six full-grown humans dancing around in wombat suits on stage whilst confetti guns spray over the crowd.

JPJ Audio supplied a control package that included an Avid Profile for FOH and another for monitors. Pete was pleased to get everything he wanted!
I always use an Avid Profile as I have loads of plugins and I’m not a big fan of anything newer,” he remarked. “I’m not a big fan of the new DiGiCo and Midas desks, and the Profile is just more reliable. In fact I’ve stood still for ten years with the Profile but it’s just so easy for me to use, plus you can get them anywhere.

The Wombats 1

Click to enlarge.

Pete explained that he tries to turn his Profile console as much as possible into an SSL console. The reason why is that he admits to being an eighties kid who learnt all of his tricks from being in bands and sitting in studios behind eighties producers.
I stole all my tricks from eighties producers but hey, a lot of it is all cool again!” he laughed. “Effects-wise, I use a complete mix – TC reverbs, Eventide etc, because the reverbs that come with the Profile are pretty poor.

Pete commented that when he first started mixing for The Wombats, they had ten channels of playback so if they lost the tambourine channel, they’ve lost that instrument. He didn’t like that so he went into their studio for a couple of days to mix everything to left / right.
We mixed the tracks really well, just in stereo, so if you lost the left you’ve still got the right,” he added. “It makes life so much easier. They run quite a complicated keyboard set up so it’s all run from Ableton and their keyboards just Midi into the whole thing, so I keep the keyboards separate. Essentially the band are a simple three piece of guitar, bass and drums … but they all sing and all play keyboards too.

During his time in Australia Pete had a variety of PA systems, including L-Acoustics and d&B audiotechnik, but that didn’t faze him.
Whenever I get a new PA to work with, I’ll first ask the system guys what they have done to it,” he explained. “Maybe they’ll show me a Lake EQ, and I’ll ask them to turn it off, as I like to do it myself. The last gig in Australia at Bunbury was fantastic because they had done very little to the system. Often I go into a venue to find the audio guys have hacked the PA to death. I’d rather they leave it flat so I can pull out whatever I don’t like. I don’t need anyone to EQ it, as long as it’s all time aligned and it’s correct, I’ll EQ it.

The Wombats 2

Click to enlarge.

Pete has had a deal with Sennheiser for the past eleven years after he used them with Bloc Party, in fact he is still using many of those original microphones as they’re still going strong.
Basically we don’t have many microphones onstage that cost more than $300, they’re all cheap mics,” he said. “A lot of people listen with their eyes and use something funky and expensive. People wander around backstage saying how clever the mic setup looks, but you go out front and they sound terrible.

Pete commented that the JPJ Audio crew were fantastic and gave a brilliant service, saying that they made his job very easy.