Tools from Waves Audio, a leading provider of digital signal processing solutions, were employed by FOH Engineer Stephen Bailey for mixing live sound at the massive Passion 2016 conference. Passion 2016 was held simultaneously across three venues (with emphasis on the slogan “3 Locations, 2 Cities, 1 Heartbeat”), all linked by fiber and with satellite redundancy. Production for the event was managed by Black & White Live, with RAT Sound providing all audio systems and audio design, headed up by Matt Manix from Method Production Grp.
A significant challenge for the production was live-syncing the three venues together. Each site had its own host, and there were several moments when the three hosts were speaking back and forth to each other from stage. Each desk at each venue had a variety of audio inputs coming in from the other venues, including ISOs of hosts, talking heads and audience mics.
Bailey comments, “We were able to use the Waves Dugan Automixer on all three of the host mics, which cleaned up their dialog channels tremendously. This also gave us extra control over how much audience level we could add independently from the other venues into our local PA or broadcast mix. The result sounded too good to be true. It brought massive energy in from the other locations, making it feel like we really were all part of one unified event.”
“Each venue had three DiGiCo SD7 consoles at FOH, monitor and broadcast positions,” Bailey adds, “with Waves SoundGrid® servers handling program content and the artists Passion Band, Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin, in conjunction with two Midas Pro9 consoles for artists Crowder, Hillsong United and Rend Collective. Each of the nine SD7 consoles had two Waves SoundGrid Extreme or Waves Server One servers with Waves SD7 Pro Show bundles and the Waves Dugan Automixer. We also had a DiGiGrid MGB audio interface for each venue’s broadcast desk, with the capability of recording 128 channels for recording backups using Waves Tracks Live. There were nine sound engineers, all using Waves plugins such as C6 Multiband Compressor, H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb, H-Delay Hybrid Delay, NLS Non-Linear Summer and the SSL E-Channel. Primary recordings were made in the video trucks. Secondary recording rigs were set up at the broadcast consoles using DiGiGrid MGB units with laptop computers running Waves Tracks Live, capable of pulling down 128 channels at 48k.”
Several engineers manning the event also commented:
Monitor engineer and audio network designer Matt Manix remarked, “Using the Waves C6 with a custom mastering preset inserted on an AUX master for in-ear mixes really allows precise control and ‘glue’ for my mixes. With just a few simple tweaks, I can quickly adjust the C6 to be tailored for vocalists or instrumentalists.”
FOH engineer Jeff Sandstrom: “One of my favorite tools for maintaining clarity and presence when mixing drums in such a large setting is to use parallel compression. My go-to plug in for that purpose is the Kramer PIE compressor. I’ll process my individual drum channels, then group just the skins (kick, snare, toms) together and squeeze them pretty hard with the Kramer PIE. When I bring that fader up and combine the processed sound with the originals, it adds a thickness and width to the sound of the kit that works great! It’s a great way to maintain the transients in the tones despite having of lots of other instruments in my mix.”
Broadcast engineer Chris Briley: “For our hosts, I used the Waves Dugan Automixer for the first time in plugin form. It was a great tool for keeping the arena sound out of the host mics. If you think about it, every time a host spoke it actually went through three different PAs. That sound would leak right into the other host mics and make for a very echoey sound. The Dugan Automixer significantly tightened up the sound and kept me from having to ride faders or set gates for each mic. What a powerful tool to have in your toolbox!”
Stephen Bailey sums it up: “When armed with Waves tools and technologies, together with the understanding of how and when to use them, it’s really remarkable how a complex project like this can network easily, run smoothly, and – most important – give the audience a great experience.”