As any live sound engineer will tell you, touring mid-sized clubs is not for the faint of heart. Confronting the daily surprises of a new room, with a new sound system and a new console, can make or break the band’s show – and their audience.
For Val Foster, engineer for Seattle hip hoppers Grieves, the solution was simple – using Mackie’s DL1608 digital live sound console with iPad control, Foster can assure the band and audience a consistent show, night after night, regardless of the venue or in-house console. It’s a challenge made even more complex, since Foster is typically playing the role of both FOH and monitor engineer.
The band’s layers of keys, guitars, grooves, backing tracks, and live vocals create a sound that’s larger and more complex than one would expect from three musicians, and Foster has his hands full just taking care of the FOH mix. Using the DL1608’s snapshot memory, Foster pre-mixes and saves the bands’ in-ear mix preferences before they hit the stage, recalling these snapshots with a simple screen touch during the show.
“When we have tech rehearsals we go through every song in the set, and any other song that might be played,” Foster says. “We play through each song and we make sure that everyone’s levels are correct. We save those in a snapshot and then when the show starts, I just switch scenes for them when the song comes up.”
The set up is streamlined in a single rack, Foster explains, allowing for a quick and easy setup for both monitors and FOH; something that becomes even more important with a one man sound crew and an intricate stage setup.
“The DL1608 sits on top, and there’s a 16 channel splitter in the rack,” Foster explains. “Out of the splitter, I connect to the house console. It’s a pretty simple system.” He then uses the DL1608’s eight balanced outputs to feed the band’s stereo in-ear mixes.
Foster points to the DL1608’s long list of features as indispensable to his job. “Except for the graphic EQ on the masters, we are using pretty much every single channel and every single feature the board has,” he says. “I love the reverbs, the vintage compressor and emulation. The gates are great for some of the things that have noise on them, or don’t get used much. And we do a lot of stereo stuff, so having the ability to link channels is helping out a lot.”
While the DL1608’s iPad control has garnered considerable attention for its ability to allow the FOH engineer to move around the hall, Foster and Grieves have taken the desk’s versatility and applied it where they needed it most. “We can get 16 channels of live mix, plus separate monitor mixes for everyone, all from a ten pound mixer,” says Foster. “And we can achieve that with just one person, and the DL1608. It’s compact, it’s packed with features, and it’s got the iPad control – without all that, we’d never be able to do what we do.”