New York (November 6, 2009)--Tori Amos is currently on the road with her Sinful Attraction tour, carrying Midas PRO6 desks for FOH and monitors.
FOH engineer Mark Hawley and monitor man Marcel Van Limbeek have recorded and toured with Amos for 15 years, and strive to reproduce the sound created in the studio in a live situation. To this end, the very same outboard units used in the original studio recordings have been duplicated at FOH and on monitors.
"It's a comfort blanket; it's what I'm used to," says Hawley. "Marcel and I make all of Tori's albums using an analog desk, and this is the setup we've used over the years; we like the way it colours the sounds. As far as mixing goes, it's identical to the mix that comes out of the studio console."
This complex and unusual setup is being assisted by many of the PRO6's features. "I like the fact that everything can be accessed instantly on the PRO6," says Hawley. "I have the drums, bass, keyboards and piano on VCA (Variable Control Association) groups so I can mix them. Then I have four channels of Tori's vocals, and I've found the PRO6 works better for this than anything else."
Two vocal mics - one on a keyboard and one on a piano - come into individual channels which can be muted as necessary. "I never look at those channels, there's no EQ or anything going on with them," continues Hawley. "They're fed into a group which inputs back into three channels, with a different compressor on each, depending on what songs she's singing. I just push that fader up and unmute one of the two vocals with the auto mutes. Then those three channels are fed into another group which has the EQ inserted on it, which is an overall EQ for either vocal."
Hawley is also using the PRO6 automation to finess the shows when no musicians are present. "During the day, I play last night's show back through the nearfields, take one song, work on that till I'm happy with it, then store it in a snapshot," he says. "There are over 70 different songs programmed into the console; Tori learns a couple of new songs every day so I have to keep up with that."
And taking the situation full circle, Hawley and Van Limbeek have been mixing bonus live tracks for a forthcoming Christmas release, Midwinter Graces, through the PRO6.
Over on monitors, Van Limbeek explains that he and Hawley have long been used to working as a team. "There's a great deal of trust between us, and in this situation, the way the audio is being distributed means we're operating the same system, as all audio sources on stage are being split digitally between the two PRO6 systems," he says.
One of the PRO6's features is deterministic latency--useful when executing multiple A to D conversions which can result in differing latencies and phase shifting. This is particularly noticeable where in-ear monitors are being used.
"There is some latency as we're running analog to digital and back again, in and out of the outboard gear," says Van Limbeek. "But I love the fact the PRO6 compensates for any latency issues, both inside and external to the desk, and Tori has never complained about latency. As far as the desk is concerned, I've been having no problems, and a small amount of latency is a price worth paying for the sound quality we get."