Rock band Avenged Sevenfold has been busy with its latest world arena tour, following the release of the group’s most recent album, The Stage.
FOH engineer Bob Strakele – also known for his work with The War on Drugs, Awolnation, Papa Roach, and James, amongst others – has been with them at every stop, and chose the Solid State Logic L500 Plus live console for mixing duties. Audio kit on the tour has been supplied by Solotech.
On this tour, Strakele has around 48 inputs from stage, with about 23 of those accounted for on the drum kit. The rest of the set includes bass, two electric guitars, two acoustics, plus five vocal mics. According to Strakele, the main sonic challenge arises from the sheer size of the tour venues, so clarity is a priority: “With double kick drums and blazing fast songs, it might be hard to keep it punchy – keep it together… So I’m using a lot of EQ to make things pop out, though the SSL EQ is amazingly musical and to me it doesn’t sound ‘EQ’d’, even with some wild curves.”
One of the big features of the console for Strakele was the Stem group – a type of audio path that you can mix to like an auxiliary, and that can be ‘fully processed’, with all the dynamics, EQ, FX, and routing that’s available to an input channel. “I’ve always been a studio engineer and a live engineer, so the Stem Group was a game-changer for me,” he says.
“I can funnel several things into one stem, process it the way I want to, then send it somewhere else and process it further. This allows me to do what I do in the studio with a patchbay, inside the console.”
For Avenged Sevenfold, Strakele mixes all four microphones on the two kick drums from their input channels into a single Stem Group. “I do the same with the Toms,” he continues. “and the same with the overheads. Then I send those three Stems into two further Stems – a dry drum group and a crushed parallel group that I use an old outboard compressor on.
“The Bass uses three inputs: clean, dirty, and amp, and again I mix them all to a single stem so I can EQ and compress them as one.”
Strakele concludes, “Avenged Sevenfold is a rock band, so my job is to make it as exciting and as dynamic as I can. The way I’m using the console allows me to make it dynamic – even it’s simply a change in the tonality.”