The Decemberists Tour Profile

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



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Monitor engineer Marcel Cacdac

Monitor engineer Marcel Cacdac

Onstage, acoustic and electric instruments mingle together, creating a wider sonic palette that keeps the engineers anticipating their next fader move. “The dynamic range from song to song is wide, so I just try to present that as best I can to the audience,” says Hipp. “The Decemberists’ songs are very narrative, and vocal intelligibility is an important part of my mix.” Hipp mikes Meloy with an Audix VX-10, while backing vocals get Audix OM6s. In fact, there are numerous Audix mics in use—from snare top, to bass cabinet, to glockenspiels—with a smattering of Electro-Voice (kick), Shure (overheads) and Heil Sound (guitar cabs) models. “The Heil PR-31BW is my newest mic, using it on a guitar cabinet,” says Hipp. “On my drum vocal, I’m using a small-diaphragm condenser [Audix SCX-ONE HC]. We decided to fully embrace the drum bleed in the vocal mic, essentially making the drum vocal another drum mic.”

That bleed onstage is also affecting Cacdac’s monitor mix, as Moen will sometimes play keys or sing in Funk’s mic or even play melodica on Meloy’s mic. “I have a very active mix and I’m constantly reading their body language, too,” he says. “I make a considerable amount of fader moves based on their body language, always anticipating and, for the most part, pre-emptively mixing what I believe they need at any moment without losing the feel for the song or the dynamics of the moment. Depending on the set list, I have several cues, especially when they change instruments, which happens often.”

The majority of the band—with the exception of Funk, who has an L-Acoustics 115XT HIQ wedge—is on in-ears so that Cacdac can create the same musical environment in each performer’s mix; they use Sensaphonics 2X-S models, and drummer Moen also has a Buttkicker Concert Series transducer. In addition, fiddler/vocalist Sarah Watkins (special to the tour) is on Ultimate Ears.

At the end of the show, Hipp finds that his addiction to creating and establishing “good audio” continues to grow. “Each day presents a new set of challenges in which I learn something more about that pursuit,” he says, “and understand more deeply what is good audio and what is not.”

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