United Kingdom (September 27, 2004)–Reggae legends UB40–they of “Red Red Wine” and “Rat In The Kitchen” fame–have been making the rounds with an InnovaSon console at the FOH position on their current Homegrown tour. Front of house engineer Tom Wiggans is using a digital Sy80 console, having upgraded from a Large Scale as the tour has progressed around the globe. UK PA rental company SSE, which count UB40 as one of its long-term clients, is supplying the consoles.
“When I was asked to mix UB40 at the beginning of the Homegrown tour last November, the Large Scale was the obvious choice,” he said. “The first shows were in New Caledonia and Tahiti, so weight was a major concern. I also needed to know I had a piece of kit that was reliable, as there isn’t a great deal of technical support in the South Pacific.”
However as the tour progressed, Wiggans found the newly-available Sy80 was the perfect upgrade path from the Large Scale. “Once again, weight was a factor as the 16 built-in line-in and line-outs allowed me to mix the show using a single mix box at FOH,” he said. “The on-board dynamics have a very neutral sound and are so effective, the only additional outboard insert units I need to use are a pair of BSS DPR901s for the Campbell brothers, and a Smaart Research C2 compressor that sits across the mix, again resulting in a saving in weight.”
The Sy80’s XFAD feature has also impressed Wiggans, making mixing the show a straightforward business. “I can now control the 48 input channels from the band, 20 effects returns and a further six playback inputs while still being able to see exactly what is going on,” he said. “The soft configuration is also really useful as I can set up the board so that everything is exactly where I want it to be. This flexibility allows me to do so many things at the same time; for example turning up a vocal while adding a delay to a brass stab, and in the next second throwing a delay onto a vocal line. This is particularly significant because the most common complaint I have heard from engineers used to analogue consoles is that they feel they can’t do two things at the same time on digital consoles–that certainly isn’t the case with the Sy80.”
An InnovaSon console–this time a Grand Live–is also being used onstage by monitor engineer Steve ‘Gonzo’ Smith who first used the desk on UB40’s Cover Up tour in 2001. Gonzo particularly likes the ease at which mixes can be quickly put together, while the console’s lightness has removed the need for a large local crew to set up and pack down the desk. “The small footprint of the monitor setup is also particularly useful, especially when taking the console into a festival situation where floor space is at a premium,” he added.