Group Photo Credit/Caption (LtoR): Tour staff (LtoR): Dave Reitzas, recording engineer; Chris Carlton, Sound Designer/FOH Engineer, Blake Suib, Band Monitor Engineer; Ian Newton, Artist Monitor Engineer; Kevin Gilpatric, FOH Mixer (Clair); Danny Badorine: PA Technician (Clair): Brandon Allison, PA Technician (Clair); Ricky Avila, PA Technician (Clair); Steve Colby, Orchestra Engineer; Bob Weibel, Crew Chief/Systems Engineer (Clair); Jason Brace, RF Engineer/Monitor Assist Clair); Tom Ford, Audio Stage Technician (Clair); Chris Fulton, Monitor Assist (Clair).
New York, NY (December 12, 2012)—To assure the success of Barbra Streisand’s 2012 Back to Brooklyn tour, sound designer and FOH mixer Chris Carlton opted to supply his team with DiGiCo consoles, improving on previous technical models from Streisand’s previous tours.
The Back to Brooklyn tour, a 12-date run of fall shows, would bring Streisand back to her roots: to Brooklyn (where she jokingly mentioned that the last time she performed in the borough was “on somebody’s stoop on Pulaski Street” as an 8-year-old) in the city’s new Barclays Center, and also to the MGM Grand, the hotel/venue in Las Vegas she helped open on New Year’s Eve in 1993. Each of the Brooklyn tour shows clocked in at about two-and-a-half hours and featured a variety-style format, with Streisand performing along with a 72-piece orchestra, a rhythm section of studio stalwarts from Los Angeles, an 80-piece guest choir in each city, and special guests including her son, singer/actor/writer Jason Emanuel Gould, world-renowned smooth jazz trumpeter Chris Botti and Italian teen-tenors trio Il Volo.
Carlton designed a new system worthy of Streisand for the tour, citing his positive experience working with DiGiCo consoles on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and teamed with DiGiCo and Clair Global at Clair HQ in September to build and program the new gear for the tour. With a team of 12 engineers on deck, the updated system was comprised of six consoles in five mix locations: FOH (Carlton on an SD7 with Kevin Gilpatric on an SD7-EX007 expander), artist monitors (SD7 run by Ian Newton), band monitors (SD10; Blake Suib), orchestra mix stems (SD10; Steve Colby), and David Reitsaz on a Avid Icon in the M3 Music Mix Mobile truck.
All FOH, monitor and broadcast recording engineers shared the 170+ inputs, generated from one central SD system rack—comprised of four DiGiCo SD Racks—and linked solely by a DiGiCo/Optocore 2GHz fiber optics network running at 96kHz. On some dates including Brooklyn, they used broadcast recording feeds into a Brainstorm DCD-8 that could receive Burst or Word Clock, and the DiGiCo system would sync off of that. In addition, the SD Rack’s third MADI port handled live down-conversion from the 96kHz to 48kHz, which fed to both the mobile truck as well as to a backup redundant recording system located in the orchestra mix room.
The DiGiCo consoles were paired with Clair Global’s i-5 line array system with full-range cabs. The standard PA configuration is 16 x i-5s in the front PA, left and right, plus 12-high stacks that are the side-facing element of that front PA. The i-3 line arrays, which are 10 cabs high, covered the rear corners of the arena. Positioned underneath the stage were 4 x i-5b subwoofers that were spaced individually across the front of the stage to add a little bit of low end for first few rows. Additionally, there were approximately 10 x FF-3 front fill cabs spaced across the front of the venue, and they were employing a delay system of six clusters of a two-way i-DLcab.
Carlton brought in Steve Colby, the longtime FOH engineer for the Boston Pops and veteran DiGiCo user, to handle the orchestral stem mixes on an SD10. (Earlier this year, Colby added a pair of SD10 consoles to the Pops’ sound system.) “I’m very, very fond of the platform,” Colby says, “and when we got to the Clair shop the first week for training, I came in at an advantage as I’d had a lot of flight time on the SD10. It was fun to be able to show people some of the things it could do.”
On his first tour with Streisand, Blake Suib—whose previous outings include work with Britney Spears—attends to band monitors on an SD10 rig upstage center under the deck. The console, run primarily in conjunction with an Aviom system, is used to generate submixes that are fed to the string section’s in-ear monitors or to various band members with their own adjustable Aviom rigs. He was blown away by the ability for all of the mix engineers to share stage racks and preamps, a feature not available on other comparable digital consoles.
Ian Newton has handled monitors for both Streisand and her special guests since 2006. Newton’s logged time on an SD7 previously with Roger Waters. For Streisand, he’s feeding a stereo pair mix to 40 wedges around the stage. “As she walks around the stage, I send a mix that I flare through the wedge wherever she is, so we don’t have them blowing into her orchestra mics,” he says. “She gets a balanced mix of everything and everyone uses the wedges with the exception of Il Volo, who are all on in-ears. I’m taking stems from the orchestra from Steve, which helps out and cuts down a bit of mixing on my end. Because I’m sending the same mix to all the wedges, I’m using the Copy to Mix feature in the SD7 pretty heavily on the outputs. I’m also using the onboard reverbs, but other than that, I’m not doing anything groundbreaking here. My main challenge is keeping an eye on Barbra all night.”
“This is really a classic example of having all of the elements in place for a great show,” Weibel concludes. “We have a band that plays great material, are very skilled and generate really good sounds. Chris is a very talented engineer and works really hard, putting in a tremendous amount of time and effort to make sure the overall sound, SPL levels and frequency response is great in every seat.”