Jun 03, 2009

Touring & Corporate

Paul Keeble takes Soundcraft's Vi6™ to the Maxïmo

--Since first getting his bands on a Soundcraft Vi6 digital console in the SSE Hire warehouse, monitor engineer Paul Keeble has been a confirmed fan of the 64-channel desk.

“I already knew about its sound quality and reliability on recommendation — I just needed to find out how quick I could fly around it.”

And being a monitor engineer that attribute was vital. Mark Ronson was the first time he used it in anger two years ago … and now he has taken it out again with Maxïmo Park’s UK club tour, designed to promote their new album Quicken The Heart. Brought in a few months ago by tour manager John Martin (who also looks after Ronson), Paul is nearing the end of the first leg of an international schedule which will take him through to the rest of the year.

“The Vi6 is the only desk that makes sense,” he says. “A lot of the digital boards are fine at front of house but they fall down on access in a busy monitor environment. This is probably the best desk for monitors, because not only is the sound quality way better than other digital desks I have used but it has a better footprint. This is a big issue on small stages and also visiting festivals where having a slim profile desk is a big advantage.”

Why is its ergonomic so ideal for the monitor engineer? “I think it’s down to having 32 faders in a long line on the surface — which is enough for most people, especially with the vertical channel pairing,” Keeble believes. “In a monitor situation I need to be able to see everything at once and a visual representation of the mix on a big line of faders.” As such, the ‘fader flip’ facility — setting the faders to be the aux send levels — is an essential attribute,” he says. “The colour strip next to the faders is a great reminder of where you are if things get a bit hectic too!”

The five-piece Maxïmo Park are partly on in-ears and partly floor monitors; as the band don’t like side fills, larger venues are supplemented with additional wedge mixes for coverage, “just in case the very active singer’s IEM’s fail!”

In terms of monitor sends, there are five sets of stereo in-ears (including lead vocalist Paul Smith) while the backline techs also share a mix — there are also four floor monitor mixes. At the same time Paul Keeble uses the desk’s matrix to create a spare stereo in- ear mix “so that if we lose a frequency I can pull up any stereo mix to the spare IEM. Matrix sources are set to the band’s left and right IEM mixes and the sends set to zero. All I need to do is turn on the relevant send and that mix is then sent to the spare IEM with no need for any rapid copying and pasting.”

The sound mix is entirely live, with no play-ins or clicks. “I’m operating the Vi6 pretty much like an analogue board,” he says. “With the in-ears I set up a FOH mix on the left and right channels and run everything post fade — I can then fader mix to my own reference mix. It cuts back on a lot of requests from the band for different levels between tracks if you are listening to a reference mix and fader mixing as you go along.”

After playing dates in Europe the band will work an extensive outdoor summer schedule before heading off to North America in early September.

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