Bon Iver Tour Profile

Dec 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Sarah Benzuly



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Monitor engineer Xandy Whitesel also mans a DiGiCo SD10 that communicates with the FOH board.

Monitor engineer Xandy Whitesel also mans a DiGiCo SD10 that communicates with the FOH board.

Monitor engineer Whitesel has been with the band in a live setting since 2009, when Vernon added three touring musicians and all were transitioning to IEMs. With the addition of the studio musicians to the live act, Whitesel finds that the SD10 accommodates the necessary 72 inputs and achieves the best-quality sound for their budget. “The SD10 at 96 kHz and its floating-point DSP and 96 inputs fit very well,” he says. “The optical FOH snake run has been reliable and easy for hands to pull. Sharing stage racks—preamps and converters—has saved cost, and the sharing itself has not been a noticeable hindrance.”

Whitesel mans 94 channels, which includes effects returns, talkback, duplicated channels and audience mics (AKG 451Bs and Rode NTG3s); all guitar amps have iso boxes. Whitesel spends a good deal of his time dialing in frequencies for the IEMs. “It used to take quite a lot of hair-pulling,” he recalls, “but my current technique works very well and is relatively fast. The PWS combiners have been helpful, as have been the summing combiner outputs to a single helical antenna. I’m selecting initial frequencies using the PWS’ intermod analysis software and a local RF scan, combined with known local RF broadcasts. From there, selecting the best-quality frequencies involves roaming the stage, listening to the brutal low-frequency sweep.”

Each bandmember has a stereo mix through Sennheiser G3 wireless units and Ultimate Ears UE11 custom buds. A few members also have Clark Synthesis tactile transducers (“thumpers”) to expand their listening field. Each drummer has a “thumper” mounted on his throne. Vernon performs on a 6-by-8-foot short wooden platform with three thumpers underneath. Also, bassist Mike Lewis has a recently built platform with two thumpers.

“Several of the bandmembers are new to IEMs this year, and it has been a learning experience for them to decide what their ideal mixes are,” says Whitesel of the type of mixes he’s providing for each musician. “But everyone basically has a balanced mix of all inputs, with an extra modicum of their own. Spatial panning is crucial with this many inputs. There are a few songs where particular members have challenging and static parts, so they simplify their mix down to the bare essentials to perform the best. The general volume of each mix varies greatly according to the bandmember’s preference. Interestingly, the softer mixes are more challenging as they are more susceptible to room-to-room differences and bleed. Snapshots of each song’s mix have been critical because of the sometimes drastic difference between the feel and mix of each song, combined with the number of inputs and number of mixes to juggle.”

As for effects, Whitesel employs compressors and gates on drum channels; comps on bass, horn and vocal inputs; and a pile of reverbs and one delay. “I also have compressors on several of the IEM mix outs, mostly multibands to be more transparent as I’ve developed a distaste toward the artifacts of strapping single bands over a mix. The thumper mixes sometimes need severe limiting.

“As an IEM mixer,” he continues, “I’m kind of obsessed with audience and ambience mics and am currently running shotguns on either side of the stage with a stereo pair down stage-center. There is a particular song involving audience participation where I need as much audience and as little P.A. as possible going back into the guys’ ears. While it’s easy to get ambience or between-song audience responses, to isolate the audience when the P.A. is blasting away is pretty tricky. I still haven’t discovered the best method, but I’m getting closer.”

“Our mic package is pretty exquisite, with several ribbons and generally pretty high-end mics,” says monitor engineer Whitesel. “Most vocals mics are Sennheiser MD431s, which we’ve been generally pleased with. We don’t have any mic sponsorships, so the manufacturers are widely represented.”

And without further ado, here’s what’s miking what:

Sean Carey Drum Set #1: Shure Beta 91A (kick in), SM57 (snare top), Beta 57A (snare bottom); Sennheiser 602 (kick out, floor 18-inch), 604 (rack); Josephson C42 (hat); Audix D6 (floor 16-inch); AES 92s (overheads); Beyer M88 (auxiliary bass drum)

Matt McCaughan Drum Set #2: Shure Beta 91A (kick in), Beta 57A (snare bottom); Sennheiser 602 (kick out, floor 16-inch); Beyer M201 (snare top); Josephson C42 (hat); AKG C414B (overheads)

Nord: Radial JDI

Conga: Sennheiser e604

Mike Noyce Guitar: Josephson e22s on amp

Rob Moose Viola: DPA 4061, LR Baggs Paracoustic DI. Electric Guitar: Josephson e22s on amps, Radial DI

Mike Lewis Bass: Electro-Voice RE20, Radial JD48 DI; sings through Sennheiser 441

MicroKorg: Radial JDI

Colin Stetson Bass Sax: Beta 98, Radial J48; sings through a Shure Beta 98

C.J. Camerieri Trumpet: DPA 4099T (dry), Radial JDI (wet)

French Horn: Beyer M260

Synth: Radial J48

Reginald Pace Trombones: Beyer M88

Percussion: Josephson C42

Justin Vernon Keys: Radial SW8. Electric Guitar: Mohave 201, Royer 121, Radial JDV DI

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