Bruce Springsteen's Front of House Engineer, John Cooper.New York (September 3, 2008)--Bruce Springsteen's Front of House Engineer, John Cooper, will have mixed over 100 shows for The Boss and the E Street Band on their current tour when it wraps up. Working on a Digidesign Venue console provided by Audio Analysts (Colorado Springs, CO), the longtime engineer has been making use of plug-ins from McDSP nightly.
A key item in Cooper's virtual toolbox is McDSP's MC2000: "It's really an important aspect of tailoring his voice live because he is hitting the microphone so hard that we tend to get an overemphasis on s's and t's. In a sense, it allows me to zero in on the difficult aspects of bringing his voice forward, because the vocal is extremely important, since all his songs tell a story. Basically, for lack of a better description, The [MC2000] performs as a very fabulous de-esser."
Breaking into the digital world from analog was a no brainer for Cooper. "The signal flow is more streamlined," he noted. "It's right in front of you; you're not looking to your left or right to confirm the functioning of a device. The path is more pure because you stay in the digital domain so you're not dealing with any conversions. I used to take out numerous racks and now I have a soundboard that I can reach from one end to the other, and not have racks and racks of insert processing. It allows me to focus on the music when the performance is going on, versus being distracted dealing with numerous insert changes; they are all automated now."
McDSP's Channel G has also aided Cooper: "Channel G functions so much like a hardware counterpart, it feels like a device in the rack and it does the filters. They are very precise and do what they say they are going to do and then get out of the way."
Mixing live, Cooper believes the use of plug-ins is a really sensible way to work. "When you are dealing with huge stages, intense stage volume and musicians out in front of the PA for half of the performance, having the right plug-in can help get the vocal on top and help present something that is understandable to the entire audience. Whether it be an arena, stadium or theater, it really becomes a challenge and that is when the processing [plug-ins pay] a great dividend and becomes very valuable."