Chart-Toppers Join With Soundcraft
Current number one pop band The Feeling have selected the number one digital console to support their March UK “warm-up” tour of theatres and circuit venues.
With their album Join With Us soaring straight to the top of the charts, the band have chosen two of Soundcraft’s Vi Series™ digital desks to tour with; while FOH engineer Jon Sword is flying a Vi6, Paul Roberts is sending intimate monitor mixes to the five-piece band’s in-ears from a Vi4. All sound production for the tour is supported by Phil McDaniel’s Mansfield-based rental company, ESS.
The Feeling’s route to Soundcraft — and into the digital world — took two distinct paths. While the band’s drummer Paul Stewart already had an indirect connection with the company — which led him to investigate the new platform — the FOH engineer was equally intrigued. “I kept hearing more and more about the Vi6 and wanted to try it out,” he said.
The opportunity soon came when he found himself mixing three songs for the Album Chart Show at Koko in Camden Town back in February.
“By the nature of TV shows you need to do everything fast,” Commented Swordy. “Rampton, Koko’s technical guy, showed me over the desk and suddenly I was flying round the line check; it was very fast — something I’d never been able to do on a digital board before. The interface is ridiculously easy.” And at that point his decision was made.
Along the way, both sound engineers spent an afternoon at Soundcraft doing show set ups in the studio with Andy Brown, Product Manager for the Vi Series consoles.
Swordy has been working with The Feeling since being introduced by his close friend (and Lily Allen’s sound engineer) John Delf.
Starting out as a drum tech on the London rock scene in 1986 before becoming a pro sound engineer two years later, Swordy is something of a touring veteran, having worked with many of the industry’s top bands. But it’s The Feeling who have now become a full-time commitment.
“I must say I have been waiting for a band like The Feeling all my life — they are amazing performers and musicians who all understand sound and put a great deal of thought into how it comes across.”
In fact it was the low-latency characteristics of the Vi6 that had been picked up on at an early stage by the studio-savvy band themselves. Although confirmed analogue musicians prior to this they were immediately impressed by the console’s response time, and general warmth of the board.
Jon Sword confirms that from a sonic perspective, his main reason for adopting the Vi6 is the Stage Box [which holds 64 input cards and 32 outputs]. “I could see from my studio/broadcast days that the pedigree was so obviously Studer — other digital desks I had heard sounded rubbish by comparison. I recognised the sound of the mic pre’s straight away and the fact that the desk is just a control surface was great.”
With 43 channels in use, Swordy is directing what he calls “a very busy set.” He explained, “I’m not just balancing but creating an active dynamic mix."
“I have never been in a position where I could programme it just the way I wanted, building up the mix after just programming the basic effects in rehearsal,” he says.
The FOH engineer also has the advantage of a pre-release version of Soundcraft’s Virtual Vi Offline Editor software for set-up and offline tracking — enabling him to modify a session file offline and load it onto USB.
In summary, Swordy says, “Pretty much everything I need is right here on the board. I just want to press and go; but when you are routing through an analogue desk it’s a very different experience — when you look at the desk channel you like to see the shape."
“I am now starting to create VCA groups — but these also have processing on groups of instruments — such as de-esser, limiter and compression. And I can really achieve reliable gating by using the side-chain filters.”
Both sound engineers have been happy to forsake their heavy analogue boards and racks of outboard for this tour — and Jon Sword, for one, is delighted that he has been able to cross the Rubicon and embrace the digital future with a desk that he can depend on.
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