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Subfrantic Has Dunwell With The Yamaha QL5

Subfrantic Has Dunwell With The Yamaha QL5

Sibling-fronted pop/rock band The Dunwells has spent most of 2014 on tour. Dates in the US and a range of UK festivals were followed by the band’s Show Me Emotion UK tour throughout September. Using Yamaha QL5 digital console has made a huge difference to both the band and mix engineer Sean Murphy.

The four-piece - comprising brothers Joseph and David Dunwell on vocals and guitar, bassist Rob Clayton and drummer Adam Taylor - has played both club shows and support slots in bigger venues over the course of the tour.

Sean is operations manager at Subfrantic, a rental company with extensive use and knowledge of Yamaha digital consoles. He chose a Yamaha QL5 and Rio3224-D as the ideal solution for the size-versus-features requirements of a hard working band which is touring on a budget.

"Club tours are challenging at the best of times, especially when you’re faced with different house mixers, monitors and PA systems of varying quality," says Sean. "Having the QL5 on the road with us has made everything so much easier. Along with carrying our own IEMs, microphones and stands, it has meant that we can be confident going into any venue, knowing we’re going to produce a show which is up to the same standard as those we’ve been in playing larger venues and at major festivals.

"The other challenge, as with everything, is budget," he continues. "Having something as small as a QL5 has kept our transport costs right down."

Inputs comprise a five piece drum kit, bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, four vocal mics, ambient mics for the in-ear monitors and 16 tracks of playback. Outputs comprise a stereo in-ear mix for each of the performers, a separate output for the click track and a small wedge for bass player Rob.

"Having the band all on IEMs has only been possible because we’re using the QL5. I use the Portico compressors and EQs on the vocals to add depth and warmth and I also have the vocals split into two separate channels, which allows for different compression, EQ and reverbs for the FOH sound and their monitors," says Sean.

A further benefit of the QL5s effect’s architecture means Sean can cope with the vagaries of different house PAs.

"I’ve got the board set up with a stereo L+R matrix, Sub matrix and stereo delay matrix, because the venues have had very varied PA setups," he continues. "I also use the Dynamic EQ a lot to remove sibilance from the vocal mics, because the sound can be harsh in venues where the PA quality leaves something to be desired!

"The amount of effects on the QL5 also means I can be very creative with the songs. I can mix the songs much closer to the studio versions than we’ve been able to achieve on previous tours."

The latter has been aided by Sean using the system to facilitate the backing tracks.

"Previously I had a laptop and an eight output sound module for the backing tracks, but the new songs use a lot of layered guitars, keyboards and synths. Now I’m using Ableton Live with the Dante Virtual Soundcard and have access to up to 64 channels," says Sean.

"It means we can run some of the backing tracks in stereo and separate out acoustic and electric guitar sounds. This given me greater control, making the overall mix a lot less cluttered. But we can also do some clever things. For example the current single starts with just Joe singing. Live, we used to have to run the track out front as we only had one guitar track. Now Joe has a guitar line just for his ears. This means he brings the whole band in at a specific moment which looks and sounds brilliant."

Although a click track is necessary to sync the backing tracks, the band were keen to not become dependant on it. So Sean just feeds it to Adam the drummer, who still keeps time for the band as they perform.

"Touring with the QL5 and our own IEMs has made everything more relaxed. They are more confident turning up at a venue and knowing that they are going to get exactly the same sound that they’ve had at every other venue. This in turn has also led to better shows," says Sean.

"I love the fact that the QL5 has 34 faders. Having four simple layers of faders, plus four layers of 34 custom faders is a really quick and easy way to access everything I need. I have setup a layer for the band, a layer for playback and my ‘live’ layer, which features essential channels, VCAs, reverb returns and delay sends all on one page.

"In my opinion, the QL5’s channel count and facilities - including the Premium Rack effects - versus cost makes it unbeatable."

26th September 2014

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