Tom Marshall Turns Coral Into Gold - With Soundcraft Vi6™
It was around the middle of 2005 that experienced sound engineer Tom Marshall started working with Liverpool band, The Coral — brought in by tour manager Pete Hillier to look after the FOH position.
Since that Invisible Invasion tour Tom has remained the band’s first choice, taking Adlib Audio’s production across Europe — punctuated by stints in the US and Japan.
But it was the less likely location of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London this summer during the iTunes Festival that provided his first opportunity to mix on Soundcraft’s flagship digital console, the Soundcraft Vi6. And he jumped at the opportunity.
“I had already seen Dave Kay using it at FOH on the Scissor Sisters tour, where it was also used as a recording console,” he reports. “I really enjoyed using the desk at the ICA but it wasn’t until the latest full production tour (to promote the band’s fifth album Roots And Echoes) that I could really get my hands on it properly.”
Tom Marshall has been mixing sound for 13 years, the first decade working in West End theatres before moving into live concert touring with PJ Harvey and then The Coral. He has gained wide experience of digital consoles from the early days of the idiom. “I have always been keen to try different desks and get my head around the different operating systems,” he says.
“But both ergonomically and operationally the Vi6 is by far the easiest desk to use — it’s great if you have limited time to get up and running. If you are trying to build a mix up from scratch you don’t have to worry as the touch screen is brilliant and extremely intuitive.
“On some desks you have to constantly make checks but on the Vi6 everything is right there in front of you — every part of every channel all the time. You can always see the dynamics, inserts, gain, pan EQ etc. and you never lose sight of anything.”
He also commends the Vi6’s layout — particularly the position of the auxes and groups. “As for the audio, it’s the warmest and richest-sounding digital desk I’ve heard so far, right from the moment you start your line check.” And several of his colleagues in the theatre world say the same, he reports.
Tom Marshall uses the console’s onboard EQ and dynamics to the max. “I have always loved the Lexicon reverbs especially the PCM 91 so to have eight Lexicon FX engines built into the desk is great.”
In deference to his background, the sound engineer tends to mix gigs in a theatre style, creating a snapshot for each song. “Within a snapshot I will change levels, FX, routing and panning. With the Vi6 it has been very easy storing, loading and saving to USB.”
Another benefit of the Vi6, he says, is the set-up speed, requiring only an easy two-man lift to get the control surface, 64-channel Stagebox and local rack into position, with CAT5 connectivity.
And with everything set up, the icing on the cake is the sleek, eye-catching design of the desk which he will be piloting.
Soundcraft’s Vi6 has enabled Tom Marshall to emulate the “old style sound” which The Coral favour, but at the same time make it exciting for a modern audiences.
And the band are clearly right back at the top of their game. After heading back to the studio following their 2005 tour they are now re-establishing themselves as a mature songwriting band — as the latest album indicates.
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