New York, NY (May 14, 2020) — Halsey finished her UK tour on March 12 at the Manchester Arena, just before touring closed down worldwide due to the pandemic. As it happens, the show also wrapped up two years that FOH engineer Simon Thomas has been on the road mixing the chanteuse. “I was only going to do it for three months!” he laughs.
Thomas began the most recent tour using a Solid State Logic L200 mixing console, as he liked how compact it was – but with the show’s production needs growing throughout the journey, it wasn’t long before he swapped it out for an L550, provided by US audio vendor, Eighth Day Sound (Highland Heights, OH). Thomas’ arsenal of outboard racks didn’t change, however, and every show found him drawing upon a Bricasti, a C2 compressor, an old TC Electronic Finalizer for tracked BVs, a couple of Distressors, a Lake EQ, and a Primary Source Enhancer as needed, as well as an SSL Fusion, applied as a permanent feature on Halsey’s vocal buss.
Halsey’s vocal went into the head amp on the L550, then at insert point A, there was a Distressor and Primary Source Enhancer; next, it went into the console’s EQ before it all fed into a stereo stem, and then on to the Fusion, which was used in various ways because the show is so vocal-driven even as it hops genres.
“What we are doing is driving into the stem, which is the really great bit,” said Thomas. “The Vintage Drive setting [on Fusion] varies from what I call my clean vocal, which is Drive and Density both set at five, to pinning it at 11 for songs such as ‘Experiment Me,’ which is a metal song with a distorted vocal. I literally have the Drive pinned in the red at 11 and it doesn’t come out. You get this distorted vocal, but you get the true harmonics of the distortion rather than a guitar-type distortion.
“Then that leads into the Violet section, with the low end set at 90 and the top end at 16 boosted by anything from 1.5-3 dB which, depending on the song, I am reining back in hard on the High Frequency compressor – set to about 10 k, and at some points, it’s down by -3 dB just to really push it down. That opens it up, then slams it down when she is screaming, basically. It’s such a great creative tool. In many ways, it’s the Density which is the key to this unit; you just have to make sure you’re getting that drive into the rest of the sections.”
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