The Judds Tour Profile

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

MIXING FOR COUNTRY ROYALTY

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Curtis Flatt (left) and system tech Jeremy Seawell

Curtis Flatt (left) and system tech Jeremy Seawell

BOARD SELECTIONS
Flatt mans an Avid Profile, which he calls his go-to desk because it’s a good-sounding board and it doesn’t take up much space (helpful for a tour that has a large lighting world). “Also, I can span my arms from one side of it to the other so it’s easy to move around. It’s very intuitive to use; I’ve been on it since it came out, so it’s very familiar to my fingers.” Flatt’s using most of the onboard stock plug-ins, including ReVibe reverb and Bomb Factory models. He’s also working with a Massey CT4 plug-in for Wynonna’s vocal (“I find it to be a really nice, fat compressor/limiter”), Serato (“Having eight vocals in front of the P.A. at once, it’s very handy”) and SPL Transient Designer. “I only keep a little bit of the impact that I want on the percussion elements, which is a pretty low level because it’s a family-oriented show.”

Pete Parenteau (left) and monitor tech Andy McDaniel

Pete Parenteau (left) and monitor tech Andy McDaniel

With the addition of Naomi Judd and the increased band, Parentau switched from a Yamaha PM5D to a Midas XL8. “In the past, my first choice would have been the PM1D: I love the control surface, workflow and stability of that system. But Spectrum Sound had just acquired an XL8 and I was happy to be the first one in the company to take it out! The pre’s sound amazing, and the band has noticed a big difference right away. They commented on the overall sonic quality and natural, open feel to all the inputs.” Parentau is using 12 internal reverbs. All background vocalists have their own discrete reverb; a hall and a plate are used on Wynonna Judd. He also employs a drum plate, a ’verb for the mandolin and two for acoustics. “I tend to mix in the box and keep things simple and the audio path as clean as possible and easy to troubleshoot,” Parentau explains. “I try not to use compression at all and let the players control their own dynamics. I have a few in place for coloration, but not for correction.”

A SHURE BET
All mics onstage are Shure models. According to Flatt, Shure has taken care of The Judds longer than he’s been with them. The Judds sing through KSM9s on UR4 wireless packages, while background vocals take KSM9s. The Quartet is on Beta 58s. “Everything else is standard,” Flatt adds. “A 57 on guitar amp, 98s on drums, KSM32s for overheads; nothing really out of the box on this one.”

When miking drum overheads, Flatt tends to put the mics almost in front of the overheads rather than over the top as there’s enough cymbal going around onstage with nine open vocal mics. “And what we’re looking for is more of the ‘swish’ rather than the crash we’re picking up, just to give it a little bit of feel,” the FOH engineer adds. “We had a block of 2-inch foam cut that went almost around the 57 on the snare top to keep the hi-hat out of it. The drummer literally plays the hi-hat right over the top of the snare. That’s where it was really good to have their producer with us, because I could ask him, ‘How do you deal with this in the studio?’ ‘Well, I kinda don’t’.” [Laughs]

Shure also provided stereo in-ears—a mix of PSM 900, PSM 700 and P6HW units. Parenteau is responsible for 15 stereo mixes, with most of the bandmembers having basic mixes with their voice or instrument on top of a full band mix. “I mix Wynonna’s off of the VCAs because the show is very dynamic and I have to make sure she can hear all of her cues, whether it be from the acoustic guitar player, piano or background vocals,” Parenteau says. “This technique carried over from her solo shows and helped make the transition to arenas more seamless.” The 12 VCAs and the POP groups on the XL8 help keep the inputs easily accessible for Parenteau. Coordinating 14 channels of ears and 12 RF mics is no easy task, but Parenteau relies on a WinRadio to scan the environment and a Wireless Workbench to check for intermods. “Overall, I only had a few tough days and it was better than I thought it would be. Once we got a routine in place, the show couldn’t have gone smoother.” Parenteau makes special mention to production manager Art Rich, stage manager Albert West, and backline techs Wade Hooker and Ed Turner, who made his job easy.

Adds Flatt: “[This tour] has one very powerful singer and one very quiet singer. The challenge was blending those two together and keeping them in front of the P.A. The best technique is talking to them, which they’re really good about. One of them understands if you’re standing too close at this moment, the other one will be in your microphone. They’re really good about hearing what you have to say and being receptive to it. They’ve sung together all of [Wynonna Judd’s] life, and they know how to blend with each other. They’re really open to knowing that the surroundings are a little bit different today and you just tell them, and that makes it really nice for me.”


Sarah Benzuly is Mix’s managing editor.






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