New York (February 7, 2005)–Nearly 40 years into his career, Tom Jones made a return to his club roots on his recent U.S. tour with a four-day stop at New York’s Irving Plaza, complete with production from his long-standing sound reinforcement vendor, Eighth Day Sound (Highland Heights, OH) and two recent additions, a pair of Yamaha PM5D digital mixing consoles in the front of house and monitor areas.
According to Sandy Battaglia, tour production manager, former FOH engineer and 20-plus year Jones employee, the decision to move from analog to digital mixers was a combination of changing technologies and road logistics. “We had been carrying two PM4000s for almost 10 years, and it was time to upgrade,” said Battaglia. “Also, since Tom plays venues ranging from small clubs to large casino showrooms to arenas overseas, the size and economics made perfect sense.”
A week in Las Vegas provided time for FOH engineer Tom Woodcock and monitor engineer Ed Ehrbar to get acclimated to the new desks while running a full show schedule at the same time.
“It was a ‘learn-as-you-go’ situation,” said Woodcock. “We set up the 5Ds side-by-side with the 4Ks. Since Tom rarely does a soundcheck, we’d bring the band in and rehearse during the day, then change over at show time, and we did that until we felt comfortable. Although computers and digital gear have been around for years, most of my engineering life has been analog mixing, so my biggest adjustment was the gain structure. I learned that what seemed to be subtle changes could actually be major. Every desk has a ‘sound,’ but I find the PM5D to be extremely transparent. It not only gives you complete recall, but it really helps with overall noise reduction. For me, the ergonomics are great, very comfortable. Plus, the onboard effects allowed us to get rid of almost two racks worth of outboard gear, so that simplifies things and saves even more space.”
Space was also a factor for Ehrbar, whose setup for the Irving Plaza dates consisted of a small room off stage left. A combination of Shure and Future Sonics systems handled the 18 mixes for Jones and the 11-piece band, making for a virtually clean stage.
“Tom generally wants a full stereo mix,” said Ehrbar. “He’s been on personal monitors for around 12 years now. I use the Shure 700 Series for him and the band, and the Future Sonics for guests. The PM5D is really tailored for personal monitor mixing, as I can make adjustments to the EQ or the effects, and they’re noticed right away. Since the set runs the musical gamut from the 1960s to the present, I can really tailor the sounds to fit those eras. The board also works out perfectly with the number of mixes and effects. It’s very logically laid out, so the transition from the 4K was fairly painless.”
Ehrbar also employs the onboard effects of the PM5D, with two exceptions. “I’ve narrowed it down to two outboard pieces,” he said. “There’s a Lexicon LXP-15 that I’ll put on Tom’s vocals for certain songs, and a Summit DCL200, which is also used on his voice. He’s like us–when he finds something he likes, he sticks with it.”
Yamaha Corporation of America, Commercial Audio Systems Division