For Rammstein’s recent 2022 stadium tour, monitor engineer, producer, composer and studio engineer Sky Van Hoff (Rammstein, Till Lindemann, Sleep Token, Emigrate) chose SoundGrid Rack for VENUE, Waves Extreme SoundGrid Server and Waves plugins to lift guitarist Richard Kruspe’s monitor mix to another level. Van Hoff, who serves as dedicated monitor engineer for Kruspe on tour with Rammstein, has also produced guitars for the last two and multi #1 platinum awarded Rammstein records, the two latest Emigrate – Kruspe’s solo records, and recently wrote and produced Till Lindemann’s latest track “Ich hasse Kinder” as well as writing his own original material.
Van Hoff comments, “We have such a high bar on this production that we try to avoid any issues ahead of time by going with as decent of a signal as possible into our chains,” says Van Hoff. “Since I work with Richard inside the studio a lot, I am also involved in Richard’s live guitar tones/Kemper amp profiles as well, so we made sure that everything is hitting the desk sounding like Rammstein do – huge and top notch! We also have one, if not the best audio and tech crew in the game, so everything – guitars, drums and bass – has been tweaked to its full potential and fitting the artists styles to just sound great and ‘right’ already at its source. When monitoring the live show, Waves plugins have made it possible for me to break all boundaries and feel at home instantly.”
Van Hoff is running an Avid VENUE S6L 32D plus a Waves Extreme SoundGrid Server including all Waves plugins. “I basically have a by-timecode remotely automated full-scale studio mix running into Richard’s IEMs for the whole setlist. Every part of the set and almost every track on the board are nuancing around the arrangements of Rammstein’s songs, just like it would be on a record mix. Everything is locking in with each other the right way at any time, at least as far as a stadium venue situation allows it to be. It’s basically a wave of a full on and fat album mix that you are riding with your guitar in your hands, sound in your ears and a gigantic crowd of Rammstein fans singing and cheering along. It’s surreal. We’re talking about my S6L and Waves plugins being tweaked by around 320 snapshots for 22 songs.”
He adds, “When I first got on the desk with Rammstein (which also was the first for me being at a monitoring desk or in a live situation as an engineer ever), Waves plugins absolutely transcended my imagination. Everything I am used to from the studio is possible in a live situation and I would have never imagined for this to be possible at this scale. I am absolutely stoked about the final mix I am able to run.”
As far as must-have Waves plugins, Van Hoff comments, “The Waves SSL G-Channel is a must on my master buss and on parallel and master compression. I squash the heck out of my drum mix on a parallel buss, using the SSL to acquire more attack, excitement and also to glue everything together. Glue is the word here. The SSL, musically and in the right tempo, gives me an energetic smack, attack, or if intended, a certain smoothness. On the master I use it to duck things around my drums a little and also glue all those things together – while bypassing compression on Richard’s guitar tracks.”
“I never do a vocal mix without the CLA 76, ever. It is probably my absolute favorite plugin. Its super-fast release, harmonic distortion, overtone structure, just the sound and the release time that’s available to me here is insane. It also gives me the absolute saturated vocal compression tone I like to go for. I fell in love with the Scheps Omni Channel back in the day when I did some factory-presets for Waves – this thing can do anything and everything in one plugin, make sure to check out my presets if you own an Omni Channel, if not – get on this thing! I love the PuigTec EQs; I boost them around 1 dB of low/high shelf basically to glue the mix. Torque does wonders for me in making drums more ‘smacky.’ I use the Waves Doubler whenever there’s something mono coming from tape. I double it to make it wider and more exciting, quite important since Richard’s guitar is kind of focused in the center of the mix. The API 2500 is my favorite snare compressor of all time, this thing is absolutely hitting hard.”
Van Hoff sums it up: “Using the Waves Extreme SoundGrid Server, which allows you to run as many Waves plugins as you want, on as many channels as you’ve got, combined with the Avid S6L, enabled me to dive deep into the lair of tones and create the chains I love and am used to. I felt at home right away and was able to have Rammstein sound like they should on stage through in-ears and in general, massive, epic and majestic.”