Lady Gaga Tour Profile

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

PERFORMANCE RINGS TRUE FOR HER LITTLE MONSTERS

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Monitor engineer Ramon Morales mans the DiGiCo SD7

Monitor engineer Ramon Morales mans the DiGiCo SD7

AMPLIFYING A AND B STAGES
The Eighth Day Sound–supplied d&b P.A. comprises four flown J8 sidefills (“light, but efficient,” Ward says), and on the B stage are four M4 wedges. Both the sidefills and wedges run digitally through Dolby Lake processing. When the dancers perform on the B stage, that’s where the M4 wedges really kick in, says Morales.

The 12-piece band—which includes background vocals, guitarists, harpist, bassist, drums, etc.—sees a plethora of mic options. Drums take Audio-Technica AE2500 on kick, AT 5100 on bottom snare, and AT 3000s on top snare and the three toms, as well as Neumann KM184s on hi-hat and ride. All other instruments are taken DI. For guitars, Ward places AT4050 on the amps and then adds DI. “I have to put a slight, maybe 0.4 millisecond, delay between the DI and the mic because they don’t match up time-wise,” Ward says. “Harp is DI’d. It’s got contact pickups on every string that sums.”

Gaga uses a Shure Beta 54 headset and switches to a Sennheiser SKM 5200 with 5235 capsule for a couple of songs. The three background vocalists use Sennheiser SKM 5200 with 5235 capsules for the entire show.

“I’m not fond of the Shure headset myself,” Ward says. “It was one of the things I have to work with and I’ve tried other mics. It’s got this midrange in it that really kills me, but I’ve learned to work with it. But everybody loves the sound of it. It’s one of the better-fitting mics, that’s the thing. Proportion-wise, it’s a fantastic mic. It fits real well, the capsules are unobtrusive. This is a small capsule and it’s just a good size, but the midrange on it just wears me out; it’s so excessive. I’m using the C4 to hit that midrange when she talks. You set the bandwidth by ducking it and EQ in the chain. It’s more the C4 dynamically that’s controlling how much of the midrange and low end come out.”

And it is that low profile that really helps both Ward and Morales during their mix as there are some costume headpieces that cover her entire face. Despite how close the cloth is to Gaga’s mic, Ward is able to send out a clean sound and Morales doesn’t have to change the mix going to her in-ears. Morales adds that there is a Shure Beta 54 for one of the dancers who speaks during one of the songs.

“You have to translate each song to what’s happening onstage,” Ward says. “The dynamics in her vocal when she plays the piano is she can go to a whisper to talking to singing out. So that vocal when she’s talking quietly, you’ve got to enhance that to come over the music and be clear. It changes all the time. It’s more dramatic than a song that’s pumping all the way through because it’s from one end of the scale with quiet piano, voice—not screaming but talking so everybody can hear her—to a voice where there’s a full band, so you enhance [the instruments] so they cut through and the vocal has to cut through, as well.”

Front-of-house engineer Horace Ward at the Avid VENUE Profile

Front-of-house engineer Horace Ward at the Avid VENUE Profile

VENUE INPUT
When Avid was designing its VENUE Profile live sound console, they asked Ward to visit and give his thoughts on the design. Here’s his tale:

“The company said, ‘We’re bringing out a new console, can you look it over?’ And I looked at it, and said, ‘This is too big,’ and, ‘What’s this?’ My thing were the gates and compressors they had on it—I didn’t like it. But they started using their same workings as their plug-in gates and compressors, so that was beautiful. Also, the knobs on the console, they used the same ones they use on their studio consoles—the D-Control. I tried to change the knobs, but they kept the D-Control-type knobs. This was the original VENUE.

“Different things like we wanted the playback from Pro Tools. When the console first came out, it didn’t have it, but it was one of those things they planned to do and it was cool. The Rehearse mode: It’s one of those things where it’s a tool you can use after the band’s finished and go back and refine your mix. It’s always good to go back and sort out an effect. Same thing you do in the studio: You’ll stay in the mix and sort out what suits the mix. Before, we were limited in what we had and you just had certain things you knew worked; certain reverbs you’d use for vocal, for drums, maybe an instrument one and that’s all you’d do. But now, because the way the board’s set up and how many sends you have, you can add atmosphere to individual things. And you can change all that per song; you can’t change the actual unit, but you can change textures and the times per snapshot.”


Sarah Benzuly is Mix’s managing editor.






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