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DiGiCo in control on Stereophonics tour
UK - Stereophonics released their tenth album last year, Scream Above the Sounds, which comes almost 20 years after the Welsh rockers first stormed the BRITs back in 1998, and won the award for British Breakthrough Act. The band's longevity speaks for itself: eight million albums sold in the UK alone, six number one records, a BRIT Award, three Kerrang! Awards, a pair of Q Awards, and 40 singles to their name. On the road Harm Schopman is looking after frontman, Kelly Jones, and co. from side stage, using his trusted DiGiCo console, supplied by rental company Capital Sound, to ensure everything is sonically where it should be.
Although in charge of monitors for this tour, Harm has been responsible for various roles on numerous touring productions.
“On Stereophonics, I originally looked after [FOH engineer] Dave Roden as the systems tech, mostly on the arena tours,” Harm explains. “It's only in the last few years that I have taken on the role of monitor engineer for them.”
A DiGiCo user since the days of the D5 Live, a console Harm used on shows for The Strokes and Katie Melua, the SD10 is now his board of choice for Stereophonics, which he is running at 48kHz with the SD Racks being shared between FOH and monitors.
“I love the clarity I can achieve for the IEM mixes using the SD10,” he says. “Everything seems to be easily separated, which means the mixes are very detailed and clean. I’ve used these consoles quite a bit over the years; the interface works perfectly for me and speed of operation is always a priority when working monitors.”
Harm also uses the Snapshot functionality within the SD10. “I have set it up so that most channels are 'recall safe',” he reveals. “I am using Snapshots for some mute automation on some of the channels and aux send automation on keyboards, acoustic guitars, and the few channels of FX and supplementary playback that we use, which is strings parts and FX, mostly. I also use some early reflections spatial effect from the SD10 on some of the guitars to give them a little extra width in the mix.”
One of the key elements of the overall live setup for Stereophonics is keeping low end minimised on stage, which is achieved through engineering teamwork.
“Our touring systems/playback/stage tech, Sam Cunningham, plays a large part in achieving this, together with the PA system tech when we have our own system,” states Harm. “We also make sure that there are no bass notes that pop out, and Dave [Roden], Sam and I communicate a lot to make the end result as optimal as possible for both the audience and the band.
Dave Roden met Stereophonics in 1996 and began touring with them the following year. His relationship with the band is very strong, but the job does not come without its challenges.
“That’s only because the musical programme material is so large and varied,” Dave insists. “Ten albums and 40 odd singles means a lot of back catalogue to draw upon, which can range from the softest of acoustic songs to out and out rock belters. Having known Kelly [Jones, frontman] and Richard [Jones, bassist] almost half my lifetime does help, though; there are some unspoken understandings which keep things on an even keel. As far as key elements go, it’s always Kelly’s vocal and the guitars first. Everything else second.”
This is the first time Dave has been out with a DiGiCo board for six years, so the decision was an important one.
“I toured very happily with a D5 for five or six years but was diverted down another road mainly for logistical reasons,” he recalls. “Going back to DiGiCo was a really considered decision, not just for logistics – a big part of this being that Mark Saunders, who is one of the best guys in the business, had joined from Sennheiser – but for the cost versus other brands and the benefits it would bring for the rest of the audio department: reducing stage footprint by rack-sharing, future-proofing and expansion capabilities of the Optocore network, and, of course, the flexibility this would give the band when thinking of arena show B-stages, and so on. Then there is my overall familiarity with the DiGiCo surface and software, which has reduced transfer time to a minimum, that has been extremely important.”
Dave is a fan of the DiGiCo Snapshot functionality, too. “I use them on inputs, for muting unused channels, level changes on faders, and FX and Aux sends, as well as some very selective EQ and dynamics changes, and reverb and delay FX presets,” he says. “I also have macros programmed to do other semi-automated tasks, such as switching inputs.”
After completing the UK leg of the tour with a performance at RISE Festival in August, Stereophonics descended on North America in September, to play a series of shows inVancouver, Toronto, Chicago, and New York City. Their DiGiCos went with them.
9th November 2018
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