New York (April 26, 2012)—Twenty years after first mixing easy-listening mainstay Barry Manilow, longtime FOH engineer Ken Newman has returned to helm the singer’s first tour of the decade, which began in February.
Newman manned the house desk for the singer between 1992 and 2002, before leaving the road for the 10 years since. “The last time I toured with Barry, the console was analog, and from 2002 to 2011 when I was working for a corporate events firm, I spent most of my time working on analog and smaller digital consoles,” Newman noted. “When I got the call for the tour, I wondered how I was going to be able to do it. I knew it would be totally impractical to use an analog console for the tour, and I looked at a number of digital consoles and what other music shows were using. I didn’t feel confident that I’d be able to get the sound I was looking for with some of the consoles, as their internal effects and processing were marginal at best. With others, the control surfaces just weren’t going to cut it for an old analog guy like me. Some consoles seemed too complicated to learn in the short time I had, or were just not the right ‘fit’ for me.”
Newman asked the advice of Dave Lawler of Docktrdave Audio Inc. of Burbank, CA. “My friend, Dave Lawler, suggested the Soundcraft Vi6. For me, it was like the time I got my first Macintosh computer in 1984 after having used DOS-based computers. I need to see what is going on one channel at a time, and the Vi6 offers great access to everything and not limiting me when I’m mixing, in a console that’s so nicely sized. The Vi6 is also intuitive enough where if I don’t know exactly how to do something at first, I can figure it out easily enough.” Audio for the tour is being provided by Eighth Day Sound (Highland Heights, OH), including the Soundcraft desk.
Despite the decade-long gap between tours, some things have remained the same for Newman—for instance, Manilow often sits in with him at the console during rehearsals and soundchecks. “In mixing this show, I have to make it sound exactly the way Barry wants it to,” said Newman. “While some artists leave the sound to their engineers, Barry is very involved and will sit right next to me, telling me exactly how he wants to hear something. He is very particular about what should be heard because he put together many of the arrangements and wants the audience to feel the music the way it is intended to be felt. We’re using a trimmed-down band setup, but we want it to sound like we have 30 to 40 musicians. As a result, the biggest challenge of mixing this show is keeping up with the changes of a very active mix.”
“Another key aspect is that the reverb has to be right,” Newman continued. “It’s critically important to him and has to sound good no matter what the venue. If I turn on the console and I don’t have the reverb up, Barry will say it sounds wrong. If the reverb is up and it sounds right, he is happy.”
Newman Audio, Inc.
Eighth Day Sound