048 - MIXING ARENAS W/KHALID

One of my favorite parts about my job is the variety. For example, last month I did a really fun tour with the comedian Fred Armisen, playing venues from around 500-2000 capacity, with a small crew. This weekend, I’m headed to the west coast to mix a handful of shows with the Grammy-nominated R&B artist Khalid. I’m particularly looking forward to the 2 nights at Staples Center in LA, which has a capacity more like 18,000.

I’m filling in for my friend CJ Blair, who is Khalid’s normal FOH engineer. I actually interviewed CJ for a webinar last year, so thought this would be a great time to share a clip from that interview. We discuss:

  • Transitioning from studio to live sound.

  • What it takes to be prepared and work with confidence.

  • How CJ managed to move into mixing sold out arena shows in a pretty short time.

I also intro the video with how I’m planning on approaching this coming week of shows:

Stage Left at Madison Square Garden, 2015 - Main, Sub, Side, and Rear hangs of d&b line array.

Stage Left at Madison Square Garden, 2015 - Main, Sub, Side, and Rear hangs of d&b line array.

Doing shows at this scale does require a full audio crew. For instance, there aren’t really “house” audio systems that we can use for live music in arenas. We’ll bring the entire system in, all the way from the power distros, to the consoles, to the large speaker system we need to cover all the different zones of an arena.

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All this gear is supplied by an audio company that specializes in renting touring packages. In this case, this company is Clair, who is a massive player in the industry and operates on a truly global scale. They manufacture their own proprietary speaker systems that sound really good in arenas – especially their new Cohesion series that I’ll be mixing on.

All this gear requires a dedicated audio crew that travels with the tour. Usually, the engineers operating the consoles are hired directly by the artists, but the rest of the crew is hired through the audio provider. For us, this means we’ll have audio techs who are trained directly by Clair and have a lot of experience with the gear we’ll be touring with.

For me at FOH, this also means I’ll be working with a Clair system tech. This is an incredibly important position for arena shows! This means that I really just focus on the mix I’m hearing at FOH, and the system tech will translate that mix to the audience by managing the speaker system for each zone in the arena. In our case, he’s toured with CJ and Khalid before so we’re set up to have some great shows!

I’m really looking forward to these ones - Khalid makes some great music that will be fun to mix. I’ll take some video when I can and share some more when I get back next week!

-Scott