Photo: Mike Babcock (L), Joey Brueckmann (R) QL5 (C)
By — Mike Babcock
This tour is a mixture of: main support for Volbeat; headline shows; and festivals. Our Tour Manager, Joey Brueckmann was advancing this tour and all the festivals and fly dates had Yamaha on deck, so it only made sense to stay within the Yamaha family for what we needed to carry. We usually carry a stage snake system, split, monitor console, and if budget permits, FOH console. Our first thought was a CL1, to keep a very small footprint. While discussing our needs with Justin Weaver at Clair Bros., he mentioned that he could get us a QL5, which was just a couple of days after I first saw some promo info on it. Looking into it more closely, using the QL5 didn’t require a RIO unit, had a small footprint, it used the same file as the CL with no conversion, and it met our budget with room to add a Behringer X32 running Midas pres via the DL251 for FOH. I was happy with the decision as long as I had a lifeline to Yamaha for any kind of hiccups that might happen on using a brand new piece of gear. I’ve toured with virtually every Yamaha digital console out there and expected it to be rock solid as far as dependability and quality.
SPL’s Bob Lindquist recently went to Niagara Falls, and all he brought us back was this video of him talking with Mike before the show at the Rapids Theatre.
Pros and Cons
On the upside, I love the size and flexibility of the QL5. As mentioned, I didn’t need an external RIO unit, but if needed I could add channels easily with one. It sounds just as good, or better, pushing JH16 IEMs as a PM5D clocked externally at 96K. Virtual soundcheck works out great for me as the band rarely ever soundchecks and it’s another tool to help fine tune mixes. Dante Virtual Soundcard and patching wasn’t exactly intuitive, but once I figured it out, it works flawlessly.
It is super reliable. We just finished a run of 3 outdoor festivals in the Florida heat and humidity. Sometimes even in direct sunlight, never missed a beat, wasn’t hot to the touch, never showed signs of not wanting to be there. The only thing that wasn’t easy to see was the color coding on the input strip in the daylight. The screen and input scribble strip were very easy to read. The touchscreen never had any problems. It was exactly what you would expect out of a Yamaha console.
Room For Improvement
The cue system when in Send on Fader mode needs an update. It’s basically the same as the LS9 where you have to go to the mix page, cue it up, go back to the input page, make sure the screen is on mix and not matrix, then select the mix before the cue follows what mix you’re on. One should be able to double click on a mix to cue it like the 5D. There are far too many steps in making that happen. (Yamaha says: We’re aware of this and hope to have it improved in the not-to-distant future.)
Also, the CL5 has 16 user defined buttons and this only has 12. I can do my show with 12 but for “transparency” between models, it would be smart to have the same number.
Mike Babcock has been an audio engineer for over 20 years, the last ten on tour with various acts including Aerosmith, Soundgarden, Brand New, Coheed and Cambria, Plain White T’s, Warped Tour, Mayhem Festival among many others. He’s toured as a PM, Stage Manager, FOH engineer, Monitor Engineer and system tech. He got the call to help out Trivium and was happy to tour as their Monitor Engineer throughout the rest of the year.
Trivium is a heavy metal act based out of Orlando, FL and has put out six albums, currently touring on Vengeance Falls. On stage they are completely IEM, no wedges or fills.