Justin Timberlake Tour Profile

Mar 1, 2014 9:00 AM, Photos & Text By Steve Jennings



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photo of Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience tour landed in the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., in January 2014.

When Mix caught Justin Timberlake at the SAP Center in San Jose late-January, he was already nearing the end of his first U.S. leg and about to head off to Europe from March to June, before returning to the States for a run through August. That’s more than a year on the road, but for the crew, it’s the third incarnation of the setup and just the middle of a two-year commitment that began back in January 2013 when they flew out to rehearse for that year’s Super Bowl and Grammy performances.

That was followed by random shows and promos around the world, then the Jay-Z co-headlining stadium tour in summer 2013, where a couple more pieces were added to the 16-piece band, then back to JT in arenas. While they have been fun shows to build, says FOH engineer Andy Meyer, they have been massive undertakings back to back. “Justin has a complete vision of the entire production,” says Meyer, who has been working with Timberlake since 2005. “He might come by while we’re running something and suggest, say, turning a snare sample that the drummer is triggering up 1 dB and as always it makes the song! Not only does he know exactly how he wants it to sit in the mix, he [also] has such an excellent ear. This gives me exceptional information. I wish every artist could be this musically knowledgeable and involved.”

photo of Andy Meyer

Front-of-house engineer Andy Meyer, at the DiGiCo SD7, has been working with Timberlake since 2005.

It is a Justin Timberlake show, and Meyer is well aware that the audience comes for the performance and wants to hear every word. He provides the clean path and JT does the rest. “Justin is a traditionalist—microphone in hand, no headset, he understands proximity effect and he uses it to his advantage,” he says. “We’ve chosen to go analog with him to FOH. He uses an Audio-Technica 6100 hypercardioid dynamic handheld microphone, which has great rejection qualities. I bring it analog to FOH into a [Rupert Neve Designs] Portico II channel strip and that’s my mic pre. From there it goes into the Apogee Symphony and that converts it to digital, then it goes AES into the console. It warms him up nicely. There’s also a great de-esser circuit in the Portico II channel. Finally, in the console I use the Waves C6 and H-Comp plug-ins.”

The console is a DiGiCo SD7, which he’s been running for about two years, originally spec’ing it for its high input count capabilities, and now taking advantage of its sound and integration. “I’ve tried to integrate analog gear with other digital consoles and it never really sounds as good as it has with the SD7,” he says. “I attribute that to their converters. So I’ve gone one step further where I’ll use the D/A converter out of the console into insert gear, and then I’ll send that analog out into a Symphony I/O returning it back into the console AES so I can bypass the sample rate conversion on the desk. That’s how I find it really sounds best.”

“I’ve got a Rupert Neve Portico II master bus processor, a Dangerous [Music] Bax EQ, and a DTC MindPrint inserted on the master bus. I have some Vintech 473 preamps in line mode that I insert on bass guitar, snares and guitars which gives it a nice midrange punch. The heart of my rig is the Antelope Audio 10M, Orion, Trinity combination I’m using to clock the entire system. That’s what glues it all together.”

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