Join Brent Carpenter for an in-depth discussion in this video Monitor mix snapshots for the live performance, part of Live Sound Engineering Techniques: On Tour with Rush.
Back in the early days of live audio, specifically in the nineties when I started, you always carried an analog console where everything took place in the console itself. And during a show you would have copious notes, especially from a monitor position, you have copious notes about things that needed to change and when they needed to change. Okay, for this song, I need to turn this knob to one o'clock, and this knob to two o'clock, and this knob back to nine o'clock, and this knob up and down.
I used to have file card after file card of songs with my notes on them. With the advent of digital control of audio, we're able to program the console to make those changes for us. With a band like Rush, where I've got three guys up there and I'm dealing with about 82 inputs, I don't have enough hands to make those changes on my own. Okay, when this song starts, Neil wants no guitar at all because it starts with a rhythmic sequence and at this point he wants more guitar because it's how he gets back into the song, it's how he needs to time back into the song and things like that.
With the advent of the digital technology, I can program all this stuff here in rehearsals. This is a graphic representation of Neil's ear mix for the inputs that are currently on the faders So, the song starts with the guitar bit, and then when it goes into the first section of the song, the guitar turns down. That was the guitar turning down. That's the fader that is the guitar. Then there's this, a rhythmic sequence that, that comes in about a third of the way through, and when I push this. This actually turned off, you can see up here that it turned off, and the rhythmic sequence channel turned up, then we go back into the meat of the song again, then we go back to sequence, and now everything's kind of just rolling right along.
Just turning up and turning down. At the same time, that's turning up and turning down The keyboard channels are also turning up and turning down to the guitar player and the base player. So there physically aren't enough hands to do all of these moves during a song. These are called snap shots. You program a snap shot to make only the changes you want the console to make at that point. Then there's also. Automation. Now, there's 2 different kinds of automation. The first one is a MIDI automation. I could have the keyboard tech send me a cable, a MIDI cable, MIDI into this console, and every time somebody hit a pedal, that MIDI note would fire off the next snapshot.
So I would be timed perfectly to the band. However, they're a band. They don't run sequencers. They're not running a, a full track, the whole song and go and playing along to it. They actually play the instrument. So if they missed something then it wouldn't fire on my console. So I would then be neglect in making it work for the other two guys. Maybe that particular snapshot doesn't affect the singer, but it might greatly affect the drummer, so I always maintain that I want to do it. Now, the other kind of automation is something I do use.
I'll go to this song here, and if you see, on this song, right here, there's a little blue notation. So the song starts, and we're going through the song. Going through the song, going through the song. And we get to this part, and when I hit this button I have timed it so that in 19.2 seconds, this will change to the next one on its own. I did that because there is a section in that song. It's really loud. And as I was always afraid I was going to miss it.
Well, I don't miss the one before it, because it's, it's a very distinct part there, and it just switched to the other one, and this fader turned down, so in that 19.2 seconds, I've told the console, go ahead and make the switch without me, whether I'm here or not, because I don't want to miss that, because it creates a very loud effect that the band doesn't want to hear.
- Choosing the PA for the venue
- Setting up points, motors and cables, and trusses
- Getting the best use of both analog and digital signal paths
- How Rush gets that Geddy, Alex, and Neil live sound
- Setting up the digital monitor mix console
- Doing the line check and sound check
- Using audience microphones to connect the band to their fans
- Getting even coverage in a large arena
- Working the monitor console and the power of snapshots
- Loading out of the venue