Bruce Springsteen Live

Jun 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz; Photos By Steve Jennings

SPRINGSTEEN'S ARENA SOUND RANGES FROM BIGGER TO BIGGEST

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photo of Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band

E Street Band members (L to R) Nils Lofgren, Jake Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent and Roy Bittan.

Supporting this carefully orchestrated, ecstatic production is Solotech, the sound company that acquired Springsteen’s longtime provider Audio Analysts last spring. Thirteen trucks and five buses carry the gear, the band, and crew from town to town. For the 70-person crew (including the audio system team, backline techs, lighting crew, etc.), each show day begins with an early load-in. By 6:30 or 7 a.m., Cooper says, “System engineer Etienne Lapré and system engineer/crew chief John Bruey are in there double-checking measurements and fine-tuning the array calculations for the P.A. for that particular venue. Then the equipment comes in over the course of the next two or three hours; all three consoles—FOH, monitor stage left and monitor stage right—are set up on rolling risers at the back of the arena. Lights go up, sound goes up, stage pushes into place, thrust goes onto the stage, and the mix position goes into place.”

Cooper’s console is an Avid Profile. He can also access redundant FOH engines through an APB MixSwitch, and he’s running primary and safety Pro Tools|HD4 systems. “There’s two of everything on this tour,” Cooper says. “For every guitar Bruce ever has in his hand, there’s an identical one that guitar tech Kevin Buell has set up in case that one has an issue. It’s very important to have escape routes and backup systems, because it’s not a question I ever want to have to address with Bruce after a show: ‘What happened?’”

By the time all of the bandmembers come in, around 5 p.m., all of the backline gear is in place, and Cooper has certain tried-and-true specs. Springsteen’s vocal chain, for example, is a Shure SM58 RF with added Waves Renaissance EQ, C6 compression and MaxxVolume dynamic processing; his guitar amps take Sennheiser 409s with Renaissance Axx compression and Crestron VEQ4.

photo of Bruce Springsteen FOH engineers

Front row: FOH engineer John Cooper (left) and L-Acoustics K1 system engineer Etienne Lapré; back row: system engineer Klaus Bolander (left) and system engineer/crew chief John Bruey.

However, Cooper says that the time they all still call “soundcheck” is really an opportunity for the band to polish up additional tunes. Cooper does his system tuning via the Profile’s Virtual Soundcheck. “I don’t need anybody sitting there and hitting a tom for five minutes,” he says. “It gives the band the freedom to work on new material or bring an older song out of retirement. We get a setlist 10 minutes prior to a performance, but even that is very dynamic. Bruce will turn a setlist sideways in a second if he feels a show is not moving in the right direction.”

At press time, Cooper said the band had already performed more than 100 different songs on this tour, but they’d only played 17 dates.






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