Detroit-based Burst Sound & Lighting is providing the sound reinforcement for Cheap Trick’s tour right now. NEW YORK, NY—Since its inception in 1973, Cheap Trick has given more than 5,000 performances, sold 20 million records, contributed to 29 movie soundtracks and has been awarded 40 gold and platinum records. They have racked up a multitude of accolades during the last 40-plus years and may be one of the most covered groups of all-time.
The band is out on tour—something it seems to do almost year round—with an assortment of gear that guarantees that followers get the “Cheap Trick” sound they are there for. Burst Sound & Lighting, headquartered in Detroit, is the sound production company tasked with making sure the band has all of the equipment it requires.
“We travel with everything except stacks and racks,” explains Bill Kozy, FOH for Cheap Trick. “It is rare that we show up at a venue or festival that does not have a PA that sounds good. Carrying the gear we do allows us to be consistent night after night no matter what loudspeakers are in place—and that is what the fans expect.”
Kozy mans an Avid Venue Profile with a Waves Audio Mercury plugin bundle at FOH. Having been the band’s FOH engineer for the last 12 years, he transitioned to digital, taking on the Avid desk, three years ago.
“The board is very intuitive, easy to use and models the analog world well,” he adds. “It made it simple to move from analog without changing the way I mix the band. The Waves bundle is just a great tool—so much to work with and it really helps get the sound in your face.”
The Avid is supported by Midas XL48 mic pres and a Lab.gruppen Lake LM 44 in Mesa EQ mode.
“The LM 44 allows me to control my own destiny,” Kozy continues. “It gives me confidence that I will be where I need to be, whether I have a full soundcheck or a five-minute one.”
A Chameleon Labs 7720 stereo bus compressor, Yamaha SPX 500 and Rolls Bellari RP583 tube compressor round out the outboard options at FOH—all key components to Kozy’s mix, especially on lead singer Robin Zander’s vocals.
“They are the tools that I use that I have found work better than anything else,” Kozy adds. “As good as digital can be, sometimes you just need something right there that does the job with the twist of a knob.”
Cheap Trick picks up local PAs at every stop on its seemingly endless tours, but carries FOH and Monitor control gear, plus an extensive Adamson Systems monitor system built around wedges, sidefills and subs. The monitor rig is a new set-up of Adamson Systems monitors, sidefill and subwoofers. Monitor engineer Steve Funke, who was not familiar with Adamson before this tour, was pleased with the upgrade.
“We expanded our Adamson inventory when they rolled out the E218 line array cabinets earlier this year,” explains Scott Cuigan, operations manager for Burst Sound & Lighting. “I knew the new boxes, along with the M212 monitors, would deliver exactly what the band was looking for.”
Sidefill consists of two SX18 2-way loudspeakers with two E218 subwoofers handling the low end; each pair is placed stage left and right. A total of six M212 monitors are in use—four wedges on stage with four mixes, a cue wedge off-stage at the monitor position and a spare wedge on hand for backup. The system is powered by Lab.gruppen PLM 10,000Q and 20,000Q amplifiers.
“The subs lay on their side with the tops on their side as well,” explains Funke. “I don’t use a lot of sub, but it does round out the sidefills nicely—I get a nice kick drum sound out of the sidefills as well as out of the wedges.”
Equipped with two Adamson long-excursion 12-inch Kevlar Neodymium drivers, the compact M212 monitors supply the band with plenty of mid frequency response—a good fit, given the demanding vocal performances. The E218, also sporting Kevlar Neodymium drivers, features a band-pass enclosure, while the SX18 provides a high SPL with beamwidth control— useful for its sidefill duties.
“One of the nicest things about this monitor set-up is the consistency,” Funke continues. “From venue to venue, there is very little change, which makes my job easier. It takes 10-15 minutes to get everything ready for a line check, which is a real time-saver.”
A Yamaha PM5D-RH digital console lies at the heart of the monitor system. “For a digital board, it has more encoders up at a time than others, which make it a little faster to get around; it’s very user-friendly,” explains Funke. “I lightly gate the kick drums and two toms, but other than that, I don’t use any processing.”
Funke adds that frontman Robin Zander has always been fully in-ear with a Shure PSM 900 in-ear transmitter and JH Audio JH5 Pro monitors. Guitarist Rick Nielsen uses a mix of systems—JH JH7 Pro monitors along with a wedge mix and sidefills.
Mic-wise, the band travels with Shure UR4S and UR4D wireless microphones; Cheap Trick has been a long-time fan of Shure microphones with the majority of the performers utilizing Shure Beta 57a microphone with Zander on a Beta 58 element. “The Shure products are roadworthy, consistent, and have a great sound,” states Funke. “The Beta 57a is a nice vocal mic with a nice edge and plenty of feedback rejection. The band really likes them.”
And what is good for a band is good for its fans. For an act that has been touring nearly non-stop for the last 30 years, it’s obvious that Cheap Trick knows how to keep fans happy and coming back for more.