JPS Australia

History

Clair Cohesion Series Debuts at Muriel’s Wedding

Muriels Wedding 1

After a first sold-out season at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, Muriel’s Wedding has returned with a Melbourne run finished and Sydney currently packing in the audiences. Next stop is Brisbane for the highly rated production that has grown and changed a little since the 2017 premiere.

Again JPJ Audio are supplying the audio equipment with Michael Waters once again in charge of the sound design, which is quite distinct this time around. Michael won the 2018 Helpmann Best Sound Design for the original production of Muriel’s Wedding.

Conceptually it’s similar but in terms of delivering the audio, it’s quite different,” Michael clarified. “We have a Clair PA and I believe it is the first time in the world that a Clair Cohesion CO-8 system has been used for theatre.

Designed for a variety of uses, CO-8 combines very high output, flexible coverage, and premium sound quality into an extremely compact package. The CO-8’s diminutive size allows for a high degree of flexibility when integrating into virtually any application. Sydney’s Lyric Theatre saw 36 x CO-8 line array speakers utilized, along with four CP-218 subs, and Michael was thrilled by their performance.

The CO-8 is such a punchy little box, slightly smaller than an L-Acoustics KARA or dV-DOSC, but they’ve got a really good bottom-end and low mid-section,” he added. “In fact it’s so good, I don’t need additional subs! The CP-218 subs are just so powerful I only need four of them; two on the floor and two in the air and the result is phenomenal. It’s a small yet beefy PA that is extremely efficient.

This show has a wide dynamic range, ranging from ballads to pop/rock songs with a little rap here and there with severe bass drops, and Michael commented that the CO-8 system lends itself well to Kate Miller-Heidke’s and Keir Nuttall’s pop music. Having said that, Michael confirmed that he would be happy to use the CO-8 for most styles of musical theatre.

The Cohesion Series has interchangeable Hornserts which allow a range of different dispersion flares for the horns,” explained Michael. “So within the arrays (left, right and centre cluster) there’s a range between 80° to 160° which allows incredible coverage right across the room. More to the point, it delivers better localization to the cast so that your ears aren’t leaping from one cluster to another. The CO-8 really does deliver seamless coverage.

Delay speakers in the Lyric included 50 x L-Acoustics 5XT with eight more for front fill and a further 32 for surrounds. A couple of Cohesion Series CP-6 self-powered point source loudspeakers and CP-118 subwooofers are used as SFX speakers. L’Acoustics 108P’s are used for Outfills and Michael describes them as the best sounding and most versatile loudspeakers on the market.

Muriels Wedding 16Out front, Brendon Gardner runs a DiGiCo SD7T with Michael commenting that they have added more instrument channels, mainly in the keyboard department resulting in eight stereo pairs of keyboard alone across three players and synth bass, played by the bass guitarist. In fact, Keyboard #3 is played by Guitarist #2 …. not confusing for anyone!

It’s a large show in terms of input tallies with 105 inputs for a cast of 28 and a nine-piece band, indeed up to nearly 150 channels including the Roland M48 mix returns,” he confirmed. “The only outboard device is the TC Electronics Reverb 4000 on the principal vocals with all other effects onboard. The dynamics and equalisers on the DiGiCo range are great. All matrixing is done onboard also, eliminating external matrix devices. Armed with an iPad I can tweak the mixes within snapshots, and system settings all over the theatre easily.

Also at FOH is a QLab playback rack for sound effects.
The cast utilised DPA d:screet 4061 miniature microphones with one DPA d:fine 4066 omnidirectional headset mic for one scene where it’s rather loud and Michael needs to get the capsule closer to the mouth for gain reasons.

The band have the usual suspects as well as some interesting choices; Shure Beta 52, Beta 91 and Beta 57 for kick drum, Sennheiser e904s for toms, Earthworks SR30s on the overheads, AKG414s, KM84s, Beta 52a on percussion and Shure KSM313 dual-voice ribbon mics on the vibes. Added to that are Neumann KM184 over the strings and a Schertler P-Dyn48 on the double bass.

I have the DPA 4099 for the acoustic guitars which sound beautiful,” said Michael. “The guitar players have the Helix Amp Modelers and when the 4099 ran through them, I was amazed at how warm and lovely they actually sound through the Helix. The guitarists control their own patches, so they control the muting of the mic, as a result we don’t have to fiddle around on the console’s snapshots or have external mute switches.

The Lyric Theatre is a big house for any story, but Muriel’s Wedding fills the space with clear vocals and punchy songs, thanks to Michael Waters and JPJ Audio.

Gallery

 

Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino 1

With shows that are as immersive, interactive, and mesmerising as they are entertaining, Childish Gambino lights up the stage like very few artists can.

In Australia to headline Splendour in the Grass, Childish Gambino played a handful of arena shows for those not lucky enough to get to Byron Bay.

FOH Engineer Kevin Brown has been fortunate to work with some very talented artists over the years, which include Toni Braxton, American Authors, Chris Brown, OutKast, Joi, Nicki Minaj, and Cody Simpson.

He has been with Childish Gambino for only four months after he was approached by Tim Colvard, the artist’s previous FOH guy, to take over after the first weekend of Coachella.

Kevin was mixing on a DiGiCo SD7, saying he has tried to use the SD Platform exclusively for quite a few years. “At the time it was the only desk that didn’t make me feel restricted by its workflow,” he added.

The SD7 has a very powerful engine and you can do almost anything, whenever you want. That type of flexibility is paramount in allowing us to be creative as mixers.

Kevin was using a Neve 1073 and Avalon 737 for the main vocal, remarking that the 1073 is a great mic pre, and if you combine that with the smooth EQ of the Avalon, you start off in a great space for your vocal. For effects processing he was using an Eventide H3000 along with various UAD and Waves plugins for reverbs, delays and some chorusing.

Kevin describes Childish Gambino as a solid performer and dynamic with the microphone; there are times when he projects and others where he forces you to listen.

It’s all about dynamics, the ups and down are what create the journey,” he added.

This is a very exciting mix, especially from a mixer’s position. There is six-piece band on stage that consists of drums, bass, two guitars, keys, and percussion.
On top of that, you have playback tracks and five choir members. This puts us in the ballpark of 110 channels. There are so many layers that allow you to create a dynamic mix with lots of depth.

Childish Gambino 8

JPJ Audio provided gear and crew for the Australian leg of the tour and Kevin found himself using a Clair Brothers CO12 PA system for the first time. The system comprised of 16 CO-12 in the main with six CP-218 subs flown. For side hangs there were 14 CO-12 plus eight CO-8 for front fills and 16 CP-218s on the ground.

The first word that comes to my mind is powerful!” commented Kevin.

In the air the PA looked smaller than some other systems, but they sound big, and the subs sound huge. I was really impressed. It’s not every day you get that type of energy moving from an active speaker.

Kevin remarked that there was nothing special going on with microphones. There are a few Shure 57s, 58s, 98s, and AKG 414s on stage whilst Childish Gambino is on a Shure Axient Digital 58.
As Kevin concludes, the main ingredient is the group of talented individuals on stage. It starts at the source!

Childish Gambino_5A touring comms package included a Riedel Artist comms system, 2300 Series Smart Panels with David Clark headsets, and Bolero wireless comms for the stage, all interfaced into Big Picture’s comms system for seamless integration with cameras and directors.

Tour radios were also supplied by JPJ Audio with D2N also supplying a Hytera radio solution for the tour.

Charlie Izzo, who has mixed monitors for Childish Gambino the past 18 months, says everyone in the band has really good ears and expects a higher level of fidelity in their mixes. He ran a Solid State Logic (SSL) L500, with a Lexicon Pro 480L and a Bricasti M7 outboard, and Shure PSM 1000s for IEM.“I just really like the sound of SSL’s live consoles,” he added.

The preamps, EQs and summing have a real analogue feel to them. I use a Waves package as the flexibility and quality of Waves plugins really makes a huge difference for me.

Childish Gambino_7Charlie utilised an ELI Distressor to control vocal dynamics and a Lexicon 480L for the vocal reverb, saying it has been a standard in recording studios for years for a reason. “In the IEMs it really shines,” he said.

I also have a Bricasti M7 for verb. It is a really solid reverb unit that produces very clean, rich verbs. I use the internal SSL buss compressor. There are so many companies that emulate it with plugins, but having it straight from the source is spot on.

I use the Shure PSM1000’s because they simply sound great. They have a super quiet noise floor for IEM packs and they really translate what I’m doing on the console well.

Charlie commented that it really is a pleasure to mix for Childish Gambino, adding that aside from everyone being incredibly talented musicians and performers, they are also really great people to work with.

Photo Credits: ©Troy Constable

 

This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine September 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

 

Michael McIntyre’s Big World Tour

McIntyre 7

A couple of months ago, Britain’s biggest comedian, Michael McIntyre, returned to Australia with his highly anticipated Michael McIntyre’s Big World Tour.

FOH engineer James ‘Oysters’ Kilpatrick was given a short and to the point brief by the artist’s team: perfect high quality audio delivered to every single seat and with that they sent him a Dropbox link to pre-show music, announcements and a pre-programmed cue list!

Basically it was a case of when in doubt, point a cabinet at it,” said Oysters. “I think it’s really a hangover from people not taking a minimal input show seriously. We play houses to nearly 15,000 people, ticket prices aren’t cheap and people expect to be entertained. So I’m with them – do it well, do it right the first time.

Oysters has a bit of a formula going when it comes to mixing for comedy shows saying he aims for the highest sample rate he can get and staying digital AES for as much of the signal chain as possible.

To my ears it has greater intelligibility for speech and stays smoother, soft and clear,” he added. “I use a DiGiCo SD10 as it has heaps of outputs plus it holds an iPad and a MacBook. It also runs Waves 10 which has a few plugins I rely on for comedy.

Along with the SD10 with redundant Waves server and Waves computer running live vocal rider, Oysters also had a C6 and the X Feedback plugin saying it is great for mic rejection.

Oysters also ensures there are heaps of speakers saying it’s all about coverage and that takes boxes pointing at people. It may sound simplistic but when you get into Qudos Bank Arena, it’s a great big daunting space to cover with low level speech.

 

JPJ Audio supplied the Australian tour including Oysters’ favourite PA setup of L-Acoustics K1 and d&b GSL.

They both throw a soft spoken word a really long way and it lands coherently and legible, no mean feat in a large cavernous space,” he explained. “We typically fly high with a large amount of boxes (12-18 depending on venue) and try to bend the bottom part so it hits just past the front fill but not onto the stage – something the GSL was made to do.

Oysters concluded that most of his comedy shows have been designed and conceived at JPJ Audio, with rigging plots and cabinet numbers all done well in advance. He notes that the expertise they bring to the table is invaluable and an essential factor in a show’s success.

 

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.

Harry Potter 7
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

wwe 2018 photo 1

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.

wwe 2018 photo 2

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.