Ray LaMontagne Tour Profile

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



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Wedges are L-Acoustics 15XTs for all the supporting players, but due to LaMontagne's desire to hear more of the hall, Norman had to experiment before finding an ideal solution: a pair of M'elodie cabinets onstage placed about 10 feet away from LaMontagne and angled slightly upward. "Ray really didn't like the immediacy of a monitor being so close to him; he felt like it was right in his face, and he wanted a little more air and more space," says Norman. "With the M'elodies, it fills that whole side of the stage with his vocal. It kind of works like a sidefill, but because Ray is stage-left, traditional sidefills wouldn't work. It was the only way I could figure to get him the air and the space on the guitar and the vocal. He really likes it better. The guitar just sounds so much more natural coming from a distance instead of from a wedge right at your feet blowing up at your face."

For the mixes, Leisz and Heywood get full mixes of the band. Bellerose just gets LaMontagne and locks in with him, as does Condos. LaMontagne basically gets himself, but it can be a complicated process. "The one thing about Ray's monitor is it's not about a level," says Norman. "Usually during soundcheck, I'm spending time turning his monitor down because he really likes to play off the house. He wants to hear the house coming back and just have enough wedge in there to focus on so it's not a wash. In a place like Red Rocks, there's no problem hearing the house coming back with those huge stone walls on either side. Other venues that are open lawn and nothing there to reflect the P.A. back, it's tough for Ray: He wants to hear the house; he doesn't want to play off the monitor. It's another reason I put it 10 feet away from him so it's more ambient, as if he were hearing the house coming back. He just has himself in there and really not a lot of that."

For the summer tour, Norman switched out LaMontagne’s vocal microphone from a standard Neumann KMS 105 to a Shure Beta 58a because he found the Neumann was too sensitive. He expects to go back to the Neumann in the fall when the band is playing theaters again. The rest of the microphones are mostly Shures.

"We have a Beta 52a on the kick, SM57 on the snare and Beta 98s on all the toms," says Norman. "Jay attaches lots of shakers to his left ankle, so we have a 98 mounted on the bottom of the hi-hat stand for the leg shakers. Some Sennheiser e 604s on the guitar. We have Shure KSM32s on the overheads. On the overs, we are doing an overhead and sidehead, a take on the old BBC miking method with a side mic by the floor tom equidistant from the snare overhead mic. It's a 1942 drum kit, so you have to mike the kit; you can't really close-mike each drum and have it sound like the kit. The bass is going through an old BSS DI, which I think sounds better, and then we are miking her 4x10 cabinet with a Beta 98, which people look at every day, and say, 'Wow, I've never seen that before.' We've found it really adds clarity to the bass. It's a really round tone that she uses, so more low end is the last thing we need."

Additionally, Norman has a pair of Audio-Technica shotgun microphones pointed at the audience, as he is multitrack recording every show for possible radio broadcasts in those towns at a later date. "I'm recording with MADI out of the Profile to an RME MADI interface into my Sony laptop, and I've been recording with the new [PreSonus] Studio One software," says Norman. "I run 24/48. We don't have a very large band, so I think total it's 26, 27 tracks, including audience mics. I'm an old Cubase and Nuendo user, and this software is written by the guy who wrote Nuendo, from what I understand, and it's working really well.”

Candace Horgan is a Denver-based writer.

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