All Access: Empire of the Sun

May 1, 2014 9:00 AM, Photos and Text By Steve Jennings


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photo of Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun—Luke Steele, vocals, guitar, keys; Tony Mitolo, drums; Surahn Sidhu, guitar—played to two sold-out nights at the Fox Theatre in Oakland, Calif., in early April. The band is making use of local P.A., in this case the house Meyer Sound system.

“I mix on an Avid Profile; as we do so many festivals this is the best and easiest console for that purpose,” says Empire FOH engineer JonBoyRock. “I decided at the start to use plug-ins from the basic packs. I didn’t want to mess around with authorizations and loading plugs at festivals. I use Impact, Echo Farm, Reverb One and ReVibe. Auto-tune is the only exception. I used to carry a Pendulum PL2 and TK Audio comp, but now just use the plug-ins.

photo of JonBoyRock

Front-of-house engineer JonBoyRock

"We run 8 channels of track, so I mix with the intention of combining the live elements—drums, guitars, vocals—with the tracks to make a bigger overall sound. As an example, the acoustic kit and the track drums are molded and compressed so they add and work together. If we were to lose or mute one of the elements, that would result in a loss of energy and excitement. We are certainly making no attempt to hide the fact that the show runs to a backing track with visual sync. We like to blur the lines around the playback."

“I’m mixing the band on a Yamaha PM5D,” says monitor engineer Sam Jones. “I cut my teeth on this digital console—it’s solid and so reliable that I’ve stuck with it. I don’t use any external plug-ins, everything I use or need is on the board, though having an external clock is always a great addition to the 5D.

photo of Sam Jones

Monitor engineer Sam Jones

“I do a mix of both in-ear monitors and wedges for the band. Luke is on IEMs, Tony the drummer is on IEMs and wedges, and Sid is just on wedges” he continues.” Luke and I use Ear Monitors Australia Quad Drivers. We use all Shure microphones. Luke’s two main vocal mics, one black and one gold, are KSM 9 wireless—transmitters are UR2, receiver is a UR4D—with a KSM 9 wired on effects vocal.

“The core of our track-playback system is two MOTU V4HDs,” Jones adds. “One is our primary playback machine and one is solely for backup. We use a Radial SW8 switcher to interface these. The V4HD was chosen for its ability to spit out our 8 tracks of audio plus HD video. We also split Luke’s vocal, running one of the splits through a Radial Tonebone. This becomes our vocal distortion channel, which is good for adding a touch of edge to the vocal mix when needed.”

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