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Einstmann: a master at FOH

Marc Dieter Einstmann is a renowned mastering engineer and also works actively in the live environment. Paul Watson talks to him about both sides of his musical career and his current role mixing FOH for German touring act Lotto King Karl...

Marc Dieter Einstmann is senior mastering engineer at MasterLab Mastering Studios, based in Berlin and Hamburg, as well as owner of Sonic Silver Mastering. However, his talents don’t only lie in the studio environment. Einstmann has vast live experience and is currently working FOH for major German touring act Lotto King Karl. Remarkably, he also finds the time to teach students at Boston’s renowned Berklee Music College some of his engineering secrets via the internet. Paul Watson reports…

How did you get into the music industry?
 I got into music through my father, who played piano and trumpet, as did I, when I also picked up drumming at the age of 10. When I finished school, my sister took me to a recording studio in Munich and I immediately knew: ‘this is it’; I was hooked. My first jobs in audio where in live broadcast, jingle houses, and other recording studios in the 80s. When I moved to London I started as a tape-op at The Church, the recording studios owned by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox. There I met Gary Bradshaw, whom I got to watch working as FOH for Brian Ferry at Wembley Arena in ’89. Where was your first FOH job – and did you have any education in sound technology prior to getting behind the console? While studying music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston, I worked nights at a small venue in Allston doing FOH and monitor work for a variety of bands. Prior to that, I had also done some live sound while studying music and electronics at Keele University in England – small gigs.
How did you get involved with Lotto King Karl, and how long have you been working FOH for the band?
 My first involvement with the band was in 2004 when I mastered their album Aus Liebe zum Spiel while working at Sterling Sound in New York. I had known Lotto King Karl for a number of years when I was asked to join the crew as FOH engineer in 2006.

What’s your choice of FOH console – is it digital, and if so, do you still need to use any outboard?
I love the sound and simplicity of Midas XL200. When working on digital consoles I usually don’t hook up my analogue outboard rig. While touring, digital consoles are more convenient and save lots of time; most console A-D converters sound less than stellar though. You can’t have everything! Where would you put it? [Laughs] 
What’s your favourite piece of FOH kit?

That’s a tough one. I’d have to pick my ears. [Smiles] Electronically, the usual suspects: dbx 160, DS-201, SM 57/58, SPL Transient Designer. I like reliable, durable, easy and affordable whilst being musical. The unusual suspects: TFpro 38e, Drawmer 1968 Mercenary Edition, and dbx Quantum II. 
Some engineers like to use plenty of automation when mixing from FOH on digital consoles – do you do the same, or do you still like to mix dynamically? 

While I do change scenes for different tunes I very much enjoy mixing dynamically, it keeps me connected to the performance at all times.
You’re touring Peavey’s Versarray 212, correct? What is it you like about the system, and what kind of sized venues are you touring with it?
 Venue sizes range from 800 to 4,000 for the most part, some larger. What I like about the Versarray most is the fact that it isn’t fatiguing to listen to at any level over long periods, as our shows often last some three hours… Some horn-loaded systems are difficult to drive below a certain level – it’s either on or off; but the planar ribbon drivers on the Versarray produce smooth fidelity over a large range of levels that I have found outstanding. Of course we must not neglect the work of a good system tech…
Do you have any particular techniques as a FOH engineer that you’d like to share with us?
 Nothing special, really: I like my near-fills and subs on aux sends, mid-side compression on backing vocals, opto-FET two stage compression on the lead vocal. Mic set-up depends largely on the size of the stage; overheads may become ‘underheads’ on smaller stages.
Does the band use monitors or IEMs – or both?
 Over the years we have ‘converted’ some of the nine-piece band members to using IEMs having reducing the number of wedges on stage considerably from some 15 to just five. This has made my work as FOH a lot easier.
You’re now a professor at Berklee; how did that all come about, and what does your role entail exactly?
 I went to Berklee on a scholarship, then went to New York for a few years to work in some big studios and returned to Boston for amorous reasons and accepted a position as assistant professor teaching on campus in the music production and engineering department, then left for a position as mastering engineer at Sterling Sound a few years later. Now Berklee offers online courses at I co-wrote a class called ‘Audio Mastering Techniques’ that allows me to teach students all over the world from anywhere in the world, which is great. If you teach, you learn twice. Sounds like a great life you lead! If there was one thing that you could change about your job though, what would it be?
 More ladies in the field? More money? I like my job, but I guess there could be a better awareness about the benefits of good pre-production and planning.