Mixing Jay-Z, Kanye Tour on Avid

Jay-Z and Kanye West’s co-headlining world tour in support of their Watch The Throne album resumes next month when the duo hit Europe. Manning the Avid Venue D-Show at FOH every step of the way will be Wayne Trevisani.
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New York (April 2, 2012)—Jay-Z and Kanye West’s co-headlining world tour in support of their Watch The Throne album resumes next month when the duo hit Europe. Manning the Avid Venue D-Show at FOH every step of the way will be Wayne Trevisani.

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Trevisani, whose touring credits range from Iggy Pop and Ted Nugent to Julio Iglesias and John Hiatt, is using a D-Show console and Stage Box with 48 inputs on stage, with a DSI card to take advantage of keeping things in the digital domain. He’s partial to Waves plug-ins, including the Renaissance and C4 Multiband compressor, though he still uses a few choice pieces of outboard gear: “I still like using a TC Electronic 2290 for my delay, and I use a TubeTech for Jay’s voice, because that’s what they used in the studio.”

“I’m mixing for both Kanye and Jay-Z – two very different artists, with somewhat different ideas of how it should sound,” he says. “Our main concern is wrapping the power of the music around their vocals, and I don’t want to always be concerned about, say, changing the effects setting on an instrument in the middle of a song. I’d rather utilize the console [automation and snapshots] to handle those tasks, so I can concentrate on the more artistic parts of the mix. It’s like having an extra pair of hands on the faders.”

Trevisani is a big proponent of the Venue’s snapshot automation. “Using snapshots is a great tool, and it’s largely misunderstood and underused by a lot of audio engineers,” he says “I’ve noticed that a lot of engineers tend to shy away from using them because they’re under the impression that a single snapshot will reprogram the entire console. But I often use them just to program specific parameters – to literally do just one thing. For example, I’ll sometimes use a snapshot to just slightly and subtly adjust a compressor setting midway through a song.”

That said, Trevisani is still very hands-on in his approach. “I don’t do it often, but sometimes I’ll use multiple snapshots on a song,” he says. “I’ve got one song where I know the crowd’s going to be cheering during the opening bars, so I start off with a slightly hotter level, then use a second snapshot to back it down a shade. But I’m still an analog dude at heart, and I still mix the show that way. I’ll use the snapshots as a starting point, but I’ve still got my hands on the faders the entire time.”

He records each show to a 64-track Pro Tools|HD system, which in turn allows him to make use of the system’s Virtual Sound Check. “Kanye’s producer and musical director (Grammy Award winner) Mike Dean, who also works with him as a writer and engineer in the studio, spent time with me at FOH,” he says. “Mike is a self-professed analog junkie—we used four original Moogs on this tour—and he and I worked together using Virtual Sound Check to program some of the mix and effects settings, making sure the instruments and tracks worked with the vocal for maximum impact. Again, it enabled us to utilize snapshots to set a compressor or boost a certain frequency in a certain song at a certain time to get the dynamics right.”

Having Virtual Sound Check on-hand also allows him to test-drive mixes for the artists themselves. “I’m able to bring the artist out to FOH with me to listen to the house mix and make sure they’re happy with it. That, to my mind, is a really cool thing about Virtual Sound Check. After all, I’m the link between the artist and the audience. The artist is up on stage, behind the speakers, and even if they have a great monitor mix, they have no way of knowing how it sounds in the house. Using Virtual Sound Check is a great way to establish a certain trust with the artist. And knowing what it sounds like in the audience gives them a lot more confidence when they go onstage. That means a better performance, and that’s good for everyone.”

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