With his eighth solo LP Tracker receiving much acclaim, guitarist and vocalist Mark Knopfler is in the midst of an eight month, 88 date world tour. A pair of DiGiCo SD7s is ensuring every nuance of these musically complex shows is heard clearly.
The tour is currently playing European arenas and festivals, with US and Canada theatres to follow. Front of House engineer Dave Dixon and monitor engineer Kerry Lewis are both mixing on DiGiCo SD7s.
“As well as Mark on guitar and lead vocals, the band features drums, bass guitar, two sets of keyboards, a second guitarist and two multi instrumentalists, who play a lot of different things including citterns, flutes, pipes and acoustic guitars,” says Dave. “Mark and the second guitarist also play an array of electric and acoustic instruments, so there are around 90 inputs in total.”
Due to the complexity of the instrumentation, each song is programmed on the SD7s as a snapshot, but at FoH Dave rides the faders throughout. “There are so many instrument changes you wouldn’t have time to set the board up between songs,” he says. “God bless snapshots, it would be very hard without them.
“With the different types of acoustic instruments it is a challenge to get them sounding natural at volume. I have to use microphones as not all have pickups. I’m not using much processing or outboard, but the EQ and dynamics on the SD7 really helps.”
Having used the DiGiCo D5 and other SD series consoles, Dave likes the control surface and is very happy with the sound.
“It’s obvious how the SD7 works, you don’t have to wonder how to do things, the workflow is intuitive and the surface feels really good. The preamps are absolutely great as well,” he says. “With this show it’s all about light and shade – not only between the songs but within each song. The music goes from big production numbers to very quiet, intimate pieces. There is a huge span of dynamics and the SD7 really helps me to harness and highlight that light and shade.”
A DiGiCo SD11 is used by Tom Calcaterra, guitar tech for Knopfler’s second guitarist of 20 years, Richard Bennett, to mix the guitars.
“We just run inputs, and then we run VCAs, because he has mics and DIs, so we run them off mutes,” says Tom. “We send it to the split, so basically I turn him on and off. Richard has multiple acoustic lines, and we just take out one acoustic line, then we gain trim it all here on the inputs. I used to have a series of different mute boxes, you know, and a whole bunch of A-Bs all linking into each other, but now it’s just one button, and that’s all. A perfect solution.”
“DiGiCo also has an amazing support team, the support is second to none,” concludes Dave. “Whatever time you contact them, there is always someone on the end of the phone. They’re all really good guys.”