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DiGiCo Quantum7 Lets Noah Kahan’s Monitor Engineer, Clark Wright, Manage a Complex Stage

DiGiCo Quantum7 Lets Noah Kahan’s Monitor Engineer, Clark Wright, Manage a Complex Stage

USA – When fans of Noah Kahan come to see one of the shows on his We'll All Be Here Forever North America Tour (assuming they can get tickets to this largely sold-out trek visiting stadiums, arenas and amphitheatres across North America between 26 March and 19 July) they’ll see six musicians on stage. What they’ll hear in addition to Kahan’s folky-pop melodies and piercing lyrics, are literally dozens of instruments.

“Everyone plays like 15 instruments each,” laughs tour monitor engineer Clark Wright (pictured), being only slightly hyperbolic. “One person plays a fiddle, 12-string guitar, mandolin and banjo, and everyone is just constantly swapping instruments. Aside from drums, I think the minimum that someone plays is three instruments and the most is seven or eight. This really is a band of multi-instrumentalists.”

Managing that matrix of musicians and instruments would be a huge challenge under any circumstances, especially on a tour whose stops include large iconic venues like Boston’s Fenway Park, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and Madison Square Garden in New York. But Wright has it fully under control, thanks to the control capabilities and routing flexibilities of the DiGiCo Quantum7 console, supplied for the tour by Clair Nashville.

“That aspect of the Quantum processing has been huge,” says Wright. “I’m very big on automating and offloading anything, and my whole show’s fully time coded, so that when showtime comes, I’m just listening to and watching my artists. I’ve got a hundred-plus snapshots going and MIDI controllers for each of our backline techs, so they can solo their own instruments or tune or talk directly to band members. The Quantum architecture gives me everything that I can use, like macros and MIDI and snapshots, to take managing things off my plate as far as actual button presses during a show. I’ve also got GPIO going for a couple of things too. Quantum been hugely helpful because it’s so flexible.”

As if all those instruments played by band members weren’t enough to keep track of, Kahan also likes to team up with other artists; he’s recorded collaborations with the likes of Post Malone, Lizzy McAlpine, Joy Oladokun, Julia Michaels, and Wesley Schulz of The Lumineers. Not surprisingly, some of those artists will turn up as guests on a live show. Thanks to Quantum, Wright is ready for them.

“Noah has constant guests and I’ve got a huge virtual playback set up and have everything heavily snapshotted for that,” he says. “Sometimes we’ll get a sound check; a lot of times we won’t, but they’ll say, ‘oh, by the way, there’ll be two vocals on this song that we’ve never had guests on before.’ So, it’s been nice to know that the guest mix is set up for this, and I’ve got this vocal spread around to all the band and crew.”

A unique management arrangement he’s come up with is how to deal with digital tuners on stage when everyone is playing multiple instruments. “We made this system where instead of having eight tuners at their feet, I just routed an aux of all their instruments to a single tuner through the console. I then used GPIO and built a little foot switch so that they can hit that and then hard pan it to the left and it’ll make it so that only they’re listening to their instrument,” he explains. “So, one tuner and one footswitch accomplishes the same goal for six instruments. We really had fun figuring that out, and you realize that there’s eight different ways I can do anything on this desk, and we can pick which is the most efficient and effective.”

Wright has also been digging deeply into Quantum capabilities, including Spice Rack and Mustard processing, and he’s found a new world in there. “I think the big one that initially got me was the Nodal Processing,” he says. “We've got a very discerning band that'll say, ‘can you slow down the release on that compressor?’ And Nodal actually lets me do it! So, everyone can get a very customised, personalised experience on stage.

“The Mustard processing is also a big help. I don't want a ton of outboard or plug-in servers and Quantum has helped to take all that off my plate, so I don’t have 50 more things to check. Everything’s onboard, everything’s integrated. I have a couple of Rupert Neve Designs 5045 Primary Source Enhancers and a couple of outboard reverbs, but other than that, everything is in the box.”

He’s especially fond of the Quantum7’s EQ, which he says is far more responsive than any he’s ever encountered, even on earlier SD-Range consoles.

The Quantum7 has a lot of possibilities, and Wright says he’s trying to leverage as many as possible. “I’m trying to get every bit out of the Quantum7 that I can, and there’s so much in there. If someone says, ‘can we do this?’ I can always say, ‘yeah, sure, we can do that.’ Every time.”

photo Pooneh Ghana

12th June 2024

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