FOH engineer Dani Munoz is using the new SSL Live L300 console during Ricardo Arjona’s latest stadium and arena tour across North and South America.
Arjona, one of the most successful Latin American artists of all time, is known for large-scale, theatrical live shows, taking in a new theme each time he goes out. The current tour is based around the new album Circo Soledad (Solitude Circus), and comes with aerial dance, clowns, and lots of circus scenery, and huge video and lighting rig.
From the stage the show runs to around 64 live inputs though SSL ML 32.32 SuperAnalogue stageboxes via an SSL BL II.D Blacklight II concentrator. The band consists of drums, percussion, bass, two guitars, and three multi-instrumentalists on strings, saxophone, and synthesisers. “It’s a challenge in the sense that there are a lot of acoustic instruments,” says Munoz. “And because of that, there are a lot of mics open at the same time in what can be very reverberant arenas.
“My aim is always to achieve both power and detail, so I pay a great deal of attention to tuning the PA myself… I get my own measurements and traces, even for house PAs… The system has to be on-point because once the show starts rolling, that’s your constant.”
Another aspect of this is a rehearsal mode that doesn’t skimp on quality. According to Munoz, not all virtual soundchecks are created equal: “The SSL virtual sound check – Rehearsal Mode – is fantastic. I’ve tried other ones before and their sound can be compromised sometimes. This time around I’m super-happy. The only thing I have to account for is the room, but I can play the show and walk around the venue and get a really clear idea of what’s happening.”
Munoz feels a clear responsibility to be deeply involved with all aspects of the sound and the mix – considering the actual show to be a culmination of work, rather than the work itself. “Pushing faders is the easy part – the final step,” he explains. “The technical and creative preparation, and your relationship with the musical director, your peers, and the artist – those are the most important things.” Munoz records every show as he’s often asked for recordings that the artists can check, sometimes only hours after the performance. “It’s a two-hour show, so it isn’t really practical to go back and mix in again, so I simply record the left and right, mix in it with some crowd mics, and give them that. Those recordings have to be right.”
This is Munoz’s first time on tour with Arjona, and the perfect excuse to try an SSL Live console – something he’d been wanting to do for some time. “It started well,” he says. “Of all the people I called, SSL were the nicest and most helpful – and before the day was out, I was at the LA office talking about consoles.”