Padding the Mix

Jan 1, 2013 9:00 AM, By Michael Duke

iPad Control of Digital Mixers for Live Sound


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photo of Milky Milward

FOH engineer David J. “Milky” Millward controls an Allen & Heath iLive-80 digital console with an iLive MixPad app.

Stephen Pattison, another iLive user, mixes FOH for Spirtualized and Glasvegas, and formerly for Amy Winehouse. He adds: “The app allows you to be where the audience is and hear it from their side of the fence, and control it in real time, so there’s no need to run in and out of FOH to tweak the mix or change the EQ. It’s much more direct.”

Dick Franks is a live mixer for bands on the Seattle club scene, including The Machine, The 5 Johnsons, and No Rules. He has used iPad control apps for both the Mackie DL1608 and the Behringer X32 mixers. “I like to move around at least a few times during the gig with the iPad to check the room,” he says.

In addition to allowing adjustments from different parts of the room, the freedom to roam frees up an engineer to walk up to the stage area to troubleshoot a problem while still mixing. “If something were to happen on stage during the set, such as a mic needing replacement,” says Matthew Woods, engineer for the band The Black Dahlia Murder, “I can grab my iPad and take care of it, and still be able to mute effects, et cetera, from the stage.” Woods recently started mixing on a Yamaha M7CL mixer and using StageMix, Yamaha’s iPad app.

The utility of iPad mixer control is not strictly a boon for engineers. Performers who mix themselves can situate an iPad within a hand’s reach of where they’re standing, allowing them to make mix adjustments without having to walk over to the mixer on the side of the stage.

Singer/keyboardist Nicholas Peper, who plays casuals, clubs and corporate gigs in Southern California, and self-mixes with a Mackie DL1608, tells of an instance at a corporate gig where the ability to roam while controlling the P.A. with Mackie’s Master Fader app came in really handy.

“The corporate bigwig who was paying for everything wanted to make some announcements,” Peper says. “I took that opportunity to stand about 40 feet in front of him with the guests, and made adjustments to his mic level on the fly as needed. Corporate executives almost always have really poor mic technique, and in this case, I was able to save the day without anyone being aware of what I was doing with the iPad.”

Many of the app-controlled mixers can be simultaneously addressed from more than one iPad. “Multiple engineers on this tour use iPads daily, including our current monitor engineer,” says Woods, referring to The Black Dahlia Murder’s recent opening for Dethklok, in which two M7CLs were used, one for FOH and one for monitors. “His and my iPad are both connected to the monitor console so that either one of us can make changes we need from anywhere.”

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