Cleveland, OH (July 26, 2016)—Beyoncé’s current Formation world tour features plenty of eye-popping technology and visuals, but audio-wise, it has a lot up its sleeve, too. Currently rolling through Europe, the tour returns to the U.S for its second North American leg in September, where it will once again be supported by Eighth Day Sound (Highland Heights, OH), which is providing a massive 96-enclosure d&b PA system, and no less than three DiGiCo SD7 audio consoles.
One SD7 is used at front of house by FOH mixer Stephen Curtin, senior staff engineer at Eighth Day Sound, who has worked with Beyoncé since her appearance at the Super Bowl Halftime event in 2013. Two others are used for monitors, one for the singer herself and the other for the band, mixed by James Berry and James Corbin, respectively, working from a kind of studio-type enclosure in the rear of one of the semi trailers that is backed up in each stadium’s broadcast-connection bay in order to keep the 360-degree stage as clear as possible.
All three consoles are connected on two fiber loops that also connect them to four DiGiCo SD-Racks, with a fifth rack dedicated solely to the FOH console. “Not having to use a splitter makes this so much simpler,” says Curtin. “We’re able to take everything directly from the stage cage, both AES digital and analog inputs. It’s a seamless connection between the consoles, and that gives us redundancy between the consoles, too.”
If a problem should arise, he says, it can be observed by all three mixers, making it much easier to track down. “Unlike with a split system, where you’d have three outputs coming off the splitter, and you wouldn’t know if the problem was on the stage or on one of the splits,” he says, “this makes troubleshooting much easier.”
Curtin is using a combination of DiGiCo onboard effects and integrated Waves plug-in processing, as well as a few select outboard processors, such as a TC Electronic TC6000.
With the spotlight always on Beyoncé’s voice, her vocals are being processed by a unique “vocal effects computer” created by programmer Carl Golembeski, working with the singer’s studio engineers and using components such as an Apogee Symphony I/O and Apple Mac to recreate the vocal sound effects she gets on recordings. The vocal signal comes to Curtin’s SD7, which he then routes as an AES signal to the computer, which in turn sends a processed stereo mix of the effects and a mono signal of the dry vocal back to the console.
Beyoncé’s Formation Tour
Eighth Day Sound