It Ain't the Gear…

By Erik Rogers / October 7, 2014

By Erik “E-Rock” Rogers

Prologue…

I am not a fan of all mixing consoles.  Including some you probably like. If you want to debate me feel free to get your own blog here. 

With that out of the way…  I am quite fortunate to work with audio vendors that indulge my desires. My preference for Meyer Sound PA systems and Midas Consoles is well documented.  I know you Avid people out there like your plug-ins, your Playskool “baby’s first console” shaped knobs, and the GUI that—IMHO—is more conducive to a studio DAW than a live rock show, but I do not.

The Midas PRO series is warm, like their analog brothers.  The workflow is based on an analog thought process.  It samples at a much more accurate 96k.  The preamps have a sound quality that can be compared to it’s older analog brothers, but in the digital world of 2014, Plug-ins are available through a network bridge while the GUI is subdued to keep one’s focus on the rock show rather than the screen.

There’s a condensed version of my spiel regarding Midas consoles.  This story has a twist, though.  On my tour I’m carrying one of each,  I have a Midas PRO2 at FOH and an Avid SC48 for the monitor engineer.  On the Midas I don’t use any plug-ins and I mix a very simple 40 channel rock show.  At monitors there are no plug-ins, only a few FX and some EQs across the IEM mixes to the taste of the intended listener.  Nothing fancy is going on.

The main choice for the MON desk was convenience for fly dates.  Taking a thumb drive into the abyss of a festival one-off and having everything ready and familiar is a HUGE bonus.  I’m less picky at FOH.  I’d love to spec a Midas but many regional vendors have other “price-point” consoles with better marketing strategies so I’m often faced with the desk du jour on a one off.   I can adapt.  No worries.

On a recent tour with a different client I purchased one plug in, the Waves C6 multi band compressor.  On my most recent fly date I found myself with an Avid Profile at FOH.  It wasn’t a surprise.  I advanced it over the Yamaha CL5. (No offense to the Yamaha people, I just didn’t feel like learning a new desk on a fly date.). As we don’t travel with a monitor engineer I spend the bulk of my soundcheck time on the monitor console and I typically get about 10 minutes of FOH time to get dialed in.  On my trusty Midas desk this is never an issue as I just recall my last (or best) show, make some room adjustments and get on with my day.  On the Profile, however, I had to start from scratch…

Since I built the monitor file, I could easily move the file out front as the channels are already set (mostly) as I would have them.  All that is needed is some VCA routing, sub grouping, and FX love and I’m good to go for show, right?  It’s then that I remember that Waves plug-in that is sitting on my thumb drive just waiting to be used.  On a whim, I flattened my vocal channel and used the Waves C6 compressor as my primary adjustment on the channel.   I also inserted a C6 across the main L/R output bus.  I was quite surprised as the speed and ease that I experienced getting my mix dialed into where I was show ready.

The show was great!  Everything fit into it’s place in the mix.  I navigated the desk like I was a 37-year-old Robert Scovill.  The management attending the show as well as the audio vendor were complimentary of the mix and the biggest accolade was the few thousand smiling fans singing along to their favorite songs like they do listening to the album.

So, here is the “take away”… I’ve been so focused on being a console snob that I neglected to consider or remember that only about 10 years ago I was mixing on a beat up Crest GT40 with random outboard gear and had some amazing sounding shows come out of it.  The moral of the story is this: “it ain’t the gear.”  

Yes, I prefer the Midas.  Yes, I used a Waves plug-in.  Yes, all of this good came out of the desk that isn’t my first choice.  But guess what, it happened.  It’ll happen again.  I’ll still take the PRO2 out on the next run, but on the next fly date, maybe I’ll be a little braver and try that Yamaha desk or whatever the audio vendor is into.  Trust your skills, use the tools at your disposal and have a great gig!   

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Addendum….

Another show done.  Another Profile and, f#%$ me if I’m lying, it was awesome.  Again!

Dammit.

Sent from my iPhone…

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Erik Rogers

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