Ray LaMontagne Tour Profile

Aug 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Candace Horgan

GUITAR, VOCALS SHINE ONSTAGE

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Monitor engineer Dean Norman at the Avid Profile

Monitor engineer Dean Norman at the Avid Profile

Dawson keeps the effects to a minimum, employing an outboard TC Electronic M5000 double-loaded reverb unit with two preset reverbs that he uses on Lamontagne’s guitar and vocals. He also uses the Waves C4 multiband compressor plug-in on the desk. He mixes in stereo, putting Lamontagne straight up the middle and splitting the guitars to either side.

"I can't stand the reverbs that are in the desk; it does not compute," Dawson says with a laugh. "I'm pretty unconventional when it comes to mixing; I'm not doing anything crazy. I don't use gates. I don't clamp then down; if they want to go kaboom, it goes kaboom. That's their business. I'm not trying to tailor a mix; I'm making what they do louder. As a matter of fact, I'm not a gearhead. I just like sound, so I do whatever it takes to get a nice, comfortable sound that's really pretty, something that's beautiful, not constructed."

At Red Rocks, Dawson was flying a Meyer MILO rig with 700-HP subs, with 16 cabinets a side. Near-fills were eight M'elodie cabinets onstage. The rig is powered with Galileos: one for the MILOs, and one for the subs and the M'elodies. "I love the horns on Meyer," says Dawson. "I've used every speaker out there, but none of them sound vocally as nice as the Meyers to me."

To help control the bass, the subs are arranged in a cardioid fashion, with everything delayed and phase-reversed. LaMontagne doesn't like to hear too much bass onstage because he feels it distorts and gets in the way of what he's trying to do, and if he does, he gets "flustered," according to Dawson. Helping to come up with a way to work it is system tech Mike Savage.

"We go for a quarter wavelength, centered at 63 Hz," says Savage. "The mid-center two are phase-reversed and delayed so that everything is lined up nicely, and it cancels at the back. You get a nice, really tight bass sound, even everywhere, and it works great."

As for tuning, "We don't rely on pink noise and Smaart to EQ the P.A.," says Dawson. "We listen by ear and make sure things are in phase. The music I choose to play, no one in their right mind would use. We use gospel, a cappella singers and Nick Lowe, vocal stuff to listen to. The drums and guitar and stuff with this band are so good, so you aren't doing a lot to it, and if you did do a lot to it, you'd be screwing it up badly. There are a lot of engineers that want to manhandle it, and this isn't that. It's all finesse."

Like his longtime counterpart, monitor engineer Norman is using a Profile desk, which he has used for two years now. In addition to its ease of use, Norman appreciates that the desk is pretty standard; when his main console went down before a gig in Antwerp, Belgium, last year, he was able to truck in another one from across town. Effects are also kept to a minimum.

"A few standard compressors and reverbs, and a Waves C4 is about the only plug-in that doesn't come on the desk," says Norman. "It keeps things in balance, especially with the acoustic guitar, to level it out. The dynamics of this show are pretty amazing, from barely a whisper to out-and-out rock. It helps keep the guitar in check, depending on how hard he is playing. These guys prefer to find their mix, where they can hear one another and kind of mix themselves. That's why they are in a semi-circle: They can watch one another and play off one another. The level of musicianship is just incredible, absolutely incredible. You just let these guys hear one another and they just stand around in a little circle and go."






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