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George Ezra’s sound team talk touring with Digico

For George Ezra's recent world tour, Stylus Productions supplied a Digico SD12 at FOH and an SD10 for monitors. Monitor engineer Ollie Weeks and FOH Mike Timm tell us how it all works

Brit Award-winning singer-songwriter George Ezra has been back on the road in support of his second studio album Staying at Tamara’s, with the help of a Digico control package.

Stylus Productions supplied the package, consisting of an SD12 at FOH and an SD10 for monitors.

Ollie Weeks, monitor engineer and owner of Stylus Productions, said: “We won the contract based partly on having the right gear, but also due to our ability as a young company to dedicate a lot of resources to serving the project and designing a bespoke, high-quality touring package. In our early discussions, Mike (FOH engineer) and I came to the decision to share a Digico SD-Rack with gain control at my end. It worked really well, but as the show has expanded, we’ve added an extra SD-Rack and two SD-Nano Racks.”

Weeks continued: “I like having the aux masters in the centre with channel faders either side and the flexibility of the SD10 surface. I use the custom layers on the desk extensively; I mix with my left hand over George’s FX and my right hand over his vocal and crowd mics, which I’m constantly riding throughout the show.”

“Ollie and were sharing the SD Rack via Optocore at 48k,” added FOH Engineer Mike Timm. “Sharing a stage box has been a blessing when working on flip-flop stages. Everything exits the SD12, from four matrices via AES to a Lake LM44 for system EQ tweaks.”

Timm mixes the show in groups. “I have 12 groups pretty much permanently assigned to the right-hand fader bank on the SD12. I rarely move this bank away from these groups once the show is underway.”

The show runs to timecode which is converted to MIDI timecode and fed to a PC running a basic version of Steinberg Cubase. This then triggers various Macros on the SD12 via MIDI. “I have Macros that change the thresholds of gates on the snare and tom channels,” revealed Timm. “For example, on one song in particular, the drummer plays fairly quiet on the snare in the verses but smashes the cymbals in the choruses. Cubase is programmed in this song to control the Macros via MIDI.

“I find this better than using snapshots as I can independently tweak without having to update each one. Timecode is also sent via MIDI to the SD12 to recall snapshots at the beginning of each song. This gives me the freedom to concentrate on listening to and mixing the music.”

Every arena show is recorded to a MacBook Pro via a Waves DMI card into Waves Trackslive for virtual soundcheck and reference. Timm said: “I use a Ferrofish A16 Ultra Mk2 to convert MADI from the console to ADAT. This allows me to interface digitally with UAD Apollo Quads at low latency, and also to provide analogue I/O for any analogue outboard I use.”

Ezra’s vocal chain is analogue from the stage to FOH. A Focusrite ISA220 is used as preamp and EQ which is then fed into a Lindell Audio 500 Series Vintage Compressor and into a BSS DPR-901 for some dynamic EQ and into the insert return point of the vocal group. “I can then apply more EQ as needed and even more compression via the SD12’s onboard EQ and dynamics,” Timm noted.

Timm also uses a Waves H-Delay for vocal delays and utilises a Lexicon PCM-91 connected to his Digico console via AES for Ezra’s vocal reverbs.

Timm concluded: “When we initially had the budget to move from using in-house venue consoles in the UK, it was suggested that I try out Digico by our production manager. Touring worldwide, I’ve haven’t looked back since.”