JPS Australia

History

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter 3

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage, and is one play presented in two parts, which are intended to be seen in order on the same day (matinee and evening) or on two consecutive evenings.

After its success in London and New York, the play opened at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre with JPJ Audio the nominated audio supplier.

Sound designer Gareth Fry, who has scooped numerous awards for his work on the play including winning an Olivier Award, a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award, flew in to ensure a smooth transition. Gareth has worked with director (and co-author) John Tiffany since 2006 saying they have a shared vocabulary for talking about things, shared reference points, and an understanding of each other’s tastes for things.

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As the play is set in a fantasy wizard world where nothing is naturalistic, generating the sound effects was a major undertaking for Gareth who strived to ensure the magic appeared very real.
With a normal play you can use a sound effects library or go out into the world to record it,” he explained. “As so much of this is spells and mystical creatures, all of that has to be created from scratch from the imagination. It’s a massively ambitious show in scale and storytelling, and we’ve had to create hundreds of sounds as well as developing a language to do that.

Rather than prepare most sound effects beforehand, Gareth and his associate Pete Malkin were in rehearsals full-time from day one, creating the effects in Logic and Ableton Live in response to what was being generated.

A lot of it was made in situ with the performers and creative team to make it really gel together,” added Gareth. “Quite often if you make something in the studio and then bring it to the rehearsal room, it doesn’t match.

The PA at The Princess Theatre is all d&b audiotechnik, almost exclusively the Y-Series which Gareth says is a lovely sounding box, well suited to this scale of theatre.

It’s a very large speaker system, particularly for a play, there are hundreds of speakers all over the place,” he said.

A TiMax Tracker is deployed to make vocal mics precisely follow the movement of actors. “Each performer wears a tag that the computer tracks so the TiMax system can pan their voice around the sound system so it sounds more like their amplified voice is coming from where the actual performer is,” Gareth elaborated.

Harry Potter 1
The show is so complex that two sound operators are required at FOH. One operator is kept busy mixing the mics and vocal effects on a DiGiCo SD10T, whilst the other person triggers the sound effects and music on QLab and Ableton Live , through a Yamaha CL5.

There are a lot of sound effects, and a lot of Imogen Heap’s pre-recorded music that moves between underscoring and the foreground,” remarked Gareth. “We’re using Apple MainStage software for all the different vocal effects, as well as a Lexicon PCM96.

A few of the radio mics had to be mounted in unusual places in strange costumes and so the aptly named DPA d:screet microphones were chosen as Gareth says they sound great, are very tough and are small enough to hide on cast members. As the show has progressed around the world, the microphones have kept pace with newer models being implemented so that by the time it opened in Melbourne, the new DPA d:screet 6000 Series was utilised.

They are effectively invisible,” stated Gareth. “The actors prefer wearing them too, because they are less obtrusive. They sound great and they are incredibly water resistant.

Gareth describes the transfer to The Princess Theatre as incredibly smooth saying the JPJ team were amazing. “I couldn’t have asked for it to go any smoother!” he declared.

All Photos: ©Matt Murphy

 

Bryan Ferry

Brian Ferry 2

Bryan Ferry has a reputation as a very artistic performer who cares deeply about his music, constantly changing arrangements and songs.

With an outstanding ear for the songs’ musical arrangements, both Bryan’s FOH and monitor mix require constant, active mixing throughout each song at a very detailed level.

Davide

FOH engineer Davide Lombardi has worked with other iconic British singers such as Kate Bush, Ed Sheeran, Gary Barlow, Tom Jones and when the tour finishes, he hits the road with Dido who after 15 years has finally released another album.

This tour has been going for a while but then again, Bryan never really stops,” remarked Davide. “He goes out every year but never for a long time, a maximum of four weeks at one time

The tours utilized an L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA system with SB28s subs and a front face of ARCs and 108s, all controlled by Lake and LA network. At the ICC in Sydney the set up was 12 K1s and four K2s on the main hangs with side hangs of 12 K2s, four subs flown, four ARCs per side as outfills, two ARCs per side as infill and 218s as front fills.

The venue here is very steep so we’ve had to fly quite high in order to cover the very top seats,” said Davide. “We spend a lot of time tuning, making sure that there is a good balance between delays and gain structure in order to get the image back to where Bryan is. Also, Bryan is not a powerful singer so the more coverage there is, the better it is to control his vocal.

Out front Davide was mixing on a DiGiCo SD10 saying the way he mixes is pretty simple with little in the way of routing. He doesn’t use plugins and the only external effect he had was a Bricasti M7 reverb, which he loves, and a tc electronic D2 delay unit especially used for the saxophone to recreate an 80s sound. An SPX 2000 is used for effect in just one moment of one song.

It’s really very simple,” added Davide. “Everything is routed into groups going to the matrix and then out of the matrix into the Lake and then out into the LA Network. I get a lot of precision from stage which is why it is simple. Before making changes on the console, we work a lot with the band adjusting levels with them when we can so we don’t change the sound too much. I try to leave it as natural and organic as possible.

Davide’s biggest challenge is getting Bryan’s vocal above everything else as he is a gentle singer and talker, and can sometimes mumble!

As well as Bryan, there are eight people onstage and with his music being very busy, there is not much space left for his vocal to cut through. However Davide says that is something Bryan seeks as he wants to express himself with his music rather than his voice. The result is a lot going on for Davide with a ‘proper’ live mix.

There are constant changes and we can’t rest for one second,” he said. “There are layers and layers happening all the time.” Bryan uses an Audio Technica 6100 microphone, a dynamic mic that has condenser characteristics according to monitor engineer Tom Howat.

It’s an interesting mic although you could potentially get a lot of spill in it so a lot of what we do is containment,” Tom commented. “It’s a good choice though because it’s not a condenser mic but you still get a quality output from it and Bryan really like it.

Modeling amps are used for the guitars so there are no guitar amps onstage to help keep spill under control with Davide saying it sounds better.

Sax mics are from SD Systems, again they are dynamic but have tripod prongs that clip onto the bell of the horn.

TomThey give you a very nice rich sax tone,” said Tom. “We have DPA’s for the violin and the rest is pretty standard although the Shure SM57 on the washboard is a highlight of the show.

Tom mixed monitors on an Allen and Heath dLive, his console of choice but fessed up to having a history with it as he was part of the development team!

It’s a great sounding console, is very powerful and is good for IEMs,” he added. “We did some orchestra shows last year and I completely maxed it out, used the modularity of the system to expand with it which is all very cool.
Everyone was on IEMS Sennheiser 2050s, with Tom having has 16 transmitters and only the drums were hard wired.

Mixing monitors for Bryan is a very parallel equation to Davide – precision, accuracy, coping with what he’s hearing and wanting to hear,” said Tom. “And also like the FOH mix, you’re riding every solo and readjusting all the time. The band basically get my attention during the soundcheck and I’m pretty much pinned on Bryan through the show. It’s mix, mix, mix and without snapshots I’d be lost on this one. The musicians play different instruments so there’s a fair bit of rotation there. Arrangements are everything with Bryan and I have to mix monitors as if I’m mixing out front, you can’t leave it alone for a minute. With the vocal you’re riding that fader up and down, pulling it back every time he’s not singing – so the finger grips that fader all the time.

Tom reveals that he has to watch Bryan closely taking cues from whatever he is looking at, maybe something has to go up or down depending upon the look on his face. Reading his body language is a key part of Tom’s job.

Davide discovered that the ICC room had specific places that sounded quite different and he was interested to see how it changed once the audience were in the house.

The corridor by the FOH has a cancellation about the low end at 40 – 50 Hz so we’ve been measuring that with Smaart,” he said. “You can see when you move the microphone you see a big scoop coming on 50Hz. We’ve tried to fix it but you can’t, it’s a natural thing but hopefully it will be better when the audience are in.

I always make sure that the mix is not exactly perfect at the FOH, walk around the venue a lot during soundcheck to make sure I find a good balance between everywhere. That takes a long time but it’s worth it.

 

The music comes at them at such a complicated level it pays off to keep the technical elements as simple as possible whilst using the power of technology to simplify the process.

Smaart, snapshots ….. all great examples of using technology to enable us to do what we need to do mix wise because that’s where it is all at for Bryan,” added Tom. “It may sound like it’s straightforward but it’s not, you bury the technology so the actual hands-on bit really counts. Its old school but using high tech.

JPJ Audio supplied the gear and crew with Davide and Tom commenting on how well they work together as a team.

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

 

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

David Byrne’s American Utopia

David Byrne band

The most talked about and critically acclaimed concert this year has to be David Byrne’s American Utopia, which had the critics raving.

Not only was it a visual feast, it also sounded pretty damn good, thanks to FOH engineer Pete Keppler (who has mixed tours for music’s biggest icons, from David Bowie to ZZ Top) and JPJ Audio.

JPJ Audio’s Clair Cohesion system was out with the tour using an almost identical set up to the rest of the world tour.

We’re using all CO-12s here in Australia”, commented Pete, “as opposed to the Co-12/Co-10 rig we were using in the USA. I had never brought Clair on a tour until I worked with Katy Perry starting in 2010, and she was a Clair account. Her production manager told me ‘you can use any sound company you want, as long as it’s Clair!’ And I’ve hardly used any other company since!

When the Cohesion series became available, I was blown away at how well it performs, and how easy a system it is to set up and rig. I myself was one member of a group of engineers invited out to Clair a few years back for some lengthy questioning about line arrays, hardware, electronics and all kinds of stuff, and the information gathered was used to help design and create the Cohesion system.

At Sydney’s ICC Theatre there were 16 x CO-12 per side on the front hangs and 12 x CO-12 per side on the side hangs. Because of the simplicity of the stage setup, Pete was not allowed to have any of the usual front-fill on the downstage edge, so a stack of (4) CO-8s was put on each of the two downstage corners, aimed in at the center 3-5 rows of audience.

I use them as near-fill mostly to cover the very front rows in the center where the main PA doesn’t quite reach,” added Pete. “Also, I have 6 drummers on stage and no other instruments with any acoustic output, so the mix I send to the CO-8s is separate and has very little drums in it, and the CO-8s really cover that space and fill in the rest” And as for far-field coverage. “We’ve found with the CO-12 that the smaller angles (1 and 2 degrees) will exponentially increase the high-frequency throw. We did some outdoor shows where the Co-12s covered 400 feet with no trouble at all. Arrayed properly physically, this PA will save you a lot of work.

In keeping with the clean stage design, the entire show is wireless and Pete says this show would not have been possible without the Shure Axient D, saying it’s hands-down the best RF system he has ever heard. “We did a shoot-out last year against a wired mic and an analogue RF system and I swear I could not tell the difference between this and the wired microphone,” he said.

Pete was running roughly 44 inputs of wireless from drums and vocals, another twenty or so inputs from keyboard interfaces, guitar amp modelers, etc. and the IEMs use 16 outs of Shure PSM1000. It’s an RF challenge for sure, but Clair’s Jamie Nelson ensured smooth sailing. “She’s our secret weapon,” says Pete, “Especially at festivals when the RF coordinator you were promised never shows up!

FOH Pete uses a DiGiCo SD10 console, a surface he says he knows like the back of his hand. His one piece of outboard gear was a Lexicon PCM41 for use on just a few songs. “I’m a minimalist, and I like a small footprint.

To cut down ambience and spill from all the live percussion into the vocal mics, Pete uses the Waves F6 Dynamic EQ plugin.
I’m using the six bands of the F6 to really make the most of all the gain I have available on the vocals,” he explained. “I’m not a fan of permanent EQ on many sound sources, particularly vocals. I have the F6 plugin inserted via MultiRack on all the vocals, and I externally key one band of the F6 to act as a high-frequency downward expander, in addition to using several of the other bands as normal dynamic EQ.

As the musicians rapidly change instruments throughout the show, the microphone systems have to be robust. The vocal mics are all DPA 4088s, DPA 4099 on most of the drums, Audix D6 on bass drums, Shure Beta 98s, Sennheiser e904s and Audio-Technica AE2300 for snares and high hats.

The setup at monitor world is a DiGiCo SD5, and SD rack, an SD Mini Rack, and two Soundcraft real-time rack units, in addition to all the RF transmitters and receivers. In Australia, Dan Matthews ran monitors as the tour’s original monitor engineer, John Chadwick, took a dive off the stage and injured himself.

Pete remarked that the other key piece of gear used was his ears and that he doesn’t look at sound if he can possibly avoid it! “Some folks spend their time focusing on what they’re seeing on metres and other visual indications, but I’m old school that way,” he laughed.

David Byrne Crew

Tony Szabo, Pete Keppler, Tim Jones

To the audience, this show appears to be very simple but no one sees what is behind the success of the show – a very significant amount of technology. Pete commented that JPJ have been great and that his techs, Alex McCormack and Tim Jones, did an amazing job.

 

WWE Super Show-Down

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WWE, in partnership with TEG Dainty, returned to Australia with WWE Super Show-Down, an historic event that took place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and featured the largest collection of WWE Superstars and Legends ever to appear in the country.

JPJ Audio provided the audio for this prestigious event including a Clair Global Cohesion 12 Line Array PA that was located in the centre of the MCG firing outwards. Also supplied were a flown monitor system inside the ring, all the RF requirements, consoles, patch equipment and of course, an excellent crew.

The design was based on twelve boxes of CO-12 per hang with two hangs at each corner of the stage,” said Alex McCormack, JPJ’s Crew Chief. “However, despite what appears to be a small amount of boxes, the coverage was great all the way to the very back of the grandstands.

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For the FOH mix there was a DiGiCo SD10 along with a fully redundant SD9. Monitors also used an SD10, added in case there was a live band thrown in at the last minute. Our experience with WWE is you need to be prepared for last minute additions based on the direction of the live event, this set up allowed us to deal with any such situation.

The entrance stage at southern end of the ground featured a ramp down to the ring for the wrestler and host entries. The stage and ramp housed monitors and wedges but no control gear as they were covered by the monitor system.

A full, cutting edge Shure Axient RF system was positioned at front of house with wireless workbench monitored by the FOH engineer and JPJ RF tech monitoring the spectrum. Despite the MCG having significant challenges with multiple TV channels clashing in the middle of the stadium, it ran very smoothly.
The channel count was kept relatively low compared to what we were prepared for,” added Alex.

WWE’s Lance Vardis did FOH and Clair Global’s Daniel Laveglia executed all of the prep work in consultation with JPJ’s Mats Frankl to ensure a successful event. This was no mean feat as the event was nothing like a typical WWE arena setup.

Despite being held in Melbourne, there was not a single drop of rain during the six days our gear and crew were exposed to the elements!

 

Cher – Here We Go Again Tour

Cher 2018

The Here We Go Again Tour is the seventh solo concert tour by Cher in support of her twenty-sixth studio album Dancing Queen. The Australasian tour was a brand new production and as Cher shares the same management as Pink, some of Pink’s crew stayed on for the tour.

JPJ Audio supplied an audio package and crew for the tour including an L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA system.

I do like the L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA and although there are many good PAs on the market, I believe it to be the best sounding,” commented Cher’s audio engineer Tony Blanc. “The setup on this tour is pretty generic from the board out, it’s exactly as L-Acoustics recommends; the cable lengths, the hangs and the combination of the K1s, K2s and the KS28 subs. It’s configured off LA Manager and I’m fortunate to have Johnny Keirle with me and he is probably the best system tech in the business. He knows how to tweak the PA. He sets the PA everyday depending on the parameters of the room, the sizes, the elevation of the seats and the throw. I am in the driving seat and it feels like a Ferrari.

Tony reports that the K1/K2 combination allows him to precisely ensure that all the seats have the same energy. Quantities of PA varied a little at each venue depending upon the ceiling height and how far round the seats had been sold. However, the specified system had 24 x K1, 36 x K2, 24 x KS28 and 9 x Kara.

For FOH control Tony ran a DiGiCo SD7 console which he said is worth twice as much as his original house!

It’s an amazing console,” he said. “Before I started with Cher, I had three or four years on budget tours and I got quite used to Waves as a source. I had it with this console but after a day, I turned it off as it just changed the way the console felt. The only auxiliary gear I have are six channels of Summit DCL200 compressors to warm things up and a Lake EQ inserted on Cher’s vocal subgroup. I also have a couple of Bricasti M7 reverbs.

With a fifty year career, a Cher show covers many different genres of music including ballads, sixties pop, rock and disco, all of which keeps Tony on his toes.

Monitors were run by Martin Pare also on a DiGiCo SD7 console with a TC Electronic M6000 MKII system. All of the band, and Cher herself, wore Shure PSM 1000 IEM systems with L-Acoustic ARC sidefills to give the dancers some audio to dance to.

Cher’s customized, handheld microphones were Sennheiser SKM5200s. Guitars and keyboards are all direct outputs. The kick drum had a syn901, plus the Audix D5, the snare an e905, toms e904 and cymbals ATM450s.

Tony made special mention of the two JPJ crew out on tour with him – Kellie McKee and Joel ‘Cellphone’ Pearson – praising their work effort.
Cher 2018

Stage is covered by Hilario Gonzalez, a Solotech audio crew chief tech who works on the Vegas show, and his main concern being prepping Cher.
Cher 2018

 

‘Coachella for accountants’ – Xerocon Brisbane 2018

Xero  Con 1

Xerocon was launched by leading accounting software brand Xero back in 2010 and today is the largest accounting technology conference in Australasia.

It brings together more than 3000 accountants, bookkeepers and financial professionals from Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

“Hailed ‘the Coachella for accountants’, Xerocon has achieved an almost cult-like following amongst the best in the business, so it was essential that Xerocon Brisbane 2018 delivered unrivalled heights of engagement and emotion,” said Laura Roberts, Managing Director of brand communications company INVNT and Xerocon’s event agency.

Held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, JPJ Audio were contracted by INVNT and technical directed by Matthew Russell, to supply an audio solution to match the event’s high production values. A solution was required that could cater to the opening act of a high energy DJ to clear crisp intelligible audio to enhance the meaningful and passionate stories told by keynote speakers.

The show was held in the round plenary style and as with most corporate productions, it was imperative that the video screens could be viewed with no obstruction. Fortunately JPJ Audio are very experienced in working PA placement into a video setup and as usual, delivered a successful outcome.

With four massive video screens forming a cube above the round stage, a neat and tidy PA system was required so as not to interfere with the visuals. Eight hangs of nine L-Acoustics dV-Dosc were deployed all in a left/right configuration at each corner.

It was planned to add L-Acoustics dV-SUBs to the PA hangs but weight restrictions on the roof were severe and so the subs were placed under the stage.

Xero Con 2We had twelve SB218 subs in a circle to get a nice wide rumble and big sub feel for when the content had low end in it, just to help get the crowd pumping,” added Matt Morrison of JPJ Audio. “We also had twelve L-Acoustics 108P around the stage for front fill. Originally the client wanted them underneath the stage with the subs so they were hidden but a solid fascia was added to the set which meant you couldn’t hear them! We redesigned the system by placing them around the video monitors onstage to cover the first few rows. It all looked neat and tidy in the end and of course, sounded great.

Control for the plenary system was on a compact yet powerful Digico SD11 operated by Gary Flemming.
During the day the venue was broken into six theatres, one used the plenary control whilst the others all had their own small control system, three with Soundcraft Si compacts and two with Yamaha O1V96. These all fed The PA People who provided silent-disco PA systems.

The PA People handed FM receivers out to everyone and set up an FM control which we plugged in to and that’s how all of the breakouts could go at the same time,” explained Matt. “Everyone in the crowd had a receiver into which they could punch a pre-set frequency to listen to whichever breakout they wanted. It was a great little system.

With audio, lighting and video all competing for weight allocations, this was no simple project but JPJ’s experience shone through.

JPJ Crew:

Tim Seconi, Will King, Matt Morrison, Daniel Charlton, Matt Debien.

 

The Merivales

The Merivales

The Merivales (the Merivale Company’s Internal Awards) brings together some of the leading hospitality personalities in Australia to highlight success within the Merivale business. It’s an evening charged with the electricity of celebration, decadence and communal spirit.

The 2018 Merivales was held this year at Fox Studio’s Stage 7 with JPJ Audio working closely with Bailey Holloway, Group Production Manager for Merivale, to ensure a successful event. The night comprised of speeches, DJs and a traditional Japanese drumming troupe.

Fortunately Stage 7 is a very well treated room – well it is a sound stage after all – which benefited FOH engineer Will Krienke who remarked that the production was fairly simple in terms of time alignment.

It wasn’t like a standard show where you’re mainly taking care of a band,” commented Will. “It was the same amount of priorities but applied to making sure the client was satisfied with the flow. It was seamless from beginning to end with no changeover or down time.

With the back of stage exposed, including dimmer racks, and high bay lights used, the theme was set for an ‘industrial’ feel to the night.

We used an L-Acoustics KARA system which is a smaller box but it worked out perfectly for this job as there was no band and we were throwing on the short end of the building,” said Will. “We had nine KARAs per side over four SB28 subwoofers and ARC outfills. We had also had 108Ps around the stage for front infills. As simple and standard as it was, the main obstacle was making it look good as the client was very concerned with the aesthetics of the room.

At FOH Will ran a DiGiCo SD11, the perfect size console for this job, using solely onboard gear as he only had ten inputs.
Shure radio microphones were used for the speeches with DPA d:vote 4099 added specifically for the drummers.

They’re just more musical as far as wireless is concerned,” said Will. “They’re full range and great for drums and all sorts of percussion.

The entrance to the event featured a small L-Acoustics 112P PA which was driven wirelessly with a Sennheiser in ear unit.

JPJ Crew:

Joel Larsson, Chris Robinson

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!

 

Robbie Williams World Tour 2018

Robie Williams 2018

Global pop phenomenon, Robbie Williams toured his mammoth Heavy Entertainment Show World Tour around the country with JPJ Audio once again supporting audio needs.

JPJ Audio supplied an L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA and amplifiers for the tour as well as PA’s for the A Day On The Green shows.

We have fourteen L-Acoustics K1 with four K2 downs on the main hangs with the same number on the side hangs,” commented Josh Lloyd, system tech for the tour. “We also have twelve K2 to cover anywhere up to 240° upstage as well as flown K1 SBs subs in the air, twelve aside. There’s a ribbon of sixteen SB28’s underneath the stage as an arc. Then there’s an end fire array, left and right, of six SB28’s plus an assortment of Kara and Arc2’s as fill boxes.

The whole system is run on the new LA12X amplifiers which Josh says have made an improvement in how the system sounds, as well as providing the incredibly helpful Load Checker feature that measures the attached loudspeakers to help make sure that everything is working correctly.

With the LA12X we use the load check function which verifies the cabinets and checks the drivers are intact,” he added. “In terms of aligning and tuning the system, I use Smaart with a wireless control so I can walk the arena. We do all the control inside LA Manager, although we have Lakes we don’t use them for that but for transmitting the audio over the network with Dante as an audio over IP.
FOH engineer Simon Hodge isn’t fazed dealing with Robbie spending much of his time out front of the PA.

We have a great PA which makes it about as good as it can be in terms of gain before feedback,” he said. “We’re very happy with the system and the way it is lined up makes a big difference. Also, we did a shootout between lots of vocal mics and we recorded the results of him singing with them. The Sennheiser Diigital 6000 system with the MD9235-J capsule gave the greatest rejection of background noise and therefore feedback.

The continuing reduction in RF spectrum also prompted a look at Sennheiser’s new Digital 6000 system which has helped the show as it has so much RF. According to Josh, the vocal sounds a lot more open and natural and the bleed from other sources down the mics is far cleaner and less problematic.

Simon runs a DiGiCo SD7 and with so many people onstage, he uses a lot of channels saying the show is not exactly automated although he does a fair amount of clever stuff running things to time code to make his life easier.

The show is still mostly mixed manually but we still spit out timecode which goes on to lighting and other departments,” he added. “We also multitrack everything at FOH so in rehearsals we can playback multi tracks that then goes off to other departments so they can rehearse without the band but still do all of the show cues.

Out front Simon also had four Bricasti M7’s with a controller which Simon describes as lovely and again it’s all automated in with the timecode cues. He also has a Transient Designer on the drum skins and an old fashioned Klark Tecnik Gate on the kicks and snares.
I find that the Gate in any digital console is not quite up to the standard of an analogue one,” said Simon.

After many years working with Robbie, Simon knows his voice extremely well and knows how it changes through the evening. As a result, there are quite a few tweaks that he does to his voice through the show.

It’s got to the point now that I can feel when he’s about to adlib and anticipate him,” said Simon.

Everyone onstage, including the dancers, use Sennheiser 2050 wireless IEMs with monitor engineer Pete McGlynn also on an SD7.

We’re gain sharing significantly which a lot of people don’t do but we know each other well enough to trust each other on the gains,” explained Simon. “So we’re acting as though we are one console so we’re connected together by fibre but there’s only one set of inputs.

Both SD7s use Gain Tracking and are on an optical loop, with two SD-Racks handling all the inputs from stage, an SD-Mini Rack handles all the Sennheiser Digital 6000 wireless microphones, which are fed in via AES/EBU, and a second SD-Mini Rack handles inserts and PA outputs at front of house. The optical loop is used not only to gain share, but to distribute comms and the comprehensive talkback system between front of house and the stage.

Around 96 inputs come from the stage, plus a large amount of inputs for band talkback and comms, which allow the band to communicate with the techs and Pete at monitors,” said Josh. “On top of this, we have triggers on the drums just to key the Gates on the console. Before you know it, the racks are all full.

For outputs, there are 24 channels of Sennheiser 2050 wireless in ear monitors, an Aviom personal mixing system for the drummer, a couple of hard wired mixes, various tech mixes and routing, which mean the monitor desk is also fully loaded.

JPJ provided the following crew for the two A Day On The Green shows headlined by Robbie: Conor Dunne, Lachlan Cresswell, Jesse Mahoney, Kane Phillips, and Stacey Handley. In Sydney Bianca Martin looked after delays.