Front-of-house engineer Joe Vegna (Loreen, Peter Jöback, Stefan Sundström, Lolita Pop, Pernilla Andersson) has chosen the Waves eMotion LV1 Live Mixer and Waves plugins for the 2023 tour of Swedish ensemble Stonemountain Orchestra.
Describing his choice of the Waves eMotion LV1 for this tour, Vegna comments, “In two words: Sound quality! The LV1’s sound is exceptional. I was looking for a console that sounds amazing and is also small enough to actually tour with when going into smaller venues.
My good friend Rompa (FOH, Ronny Bernstein), who tours with the rock band Europe, has been using the eMotion LV1 for years and always raves about how good it sounds. So I thought I’d give it a go for an earlier tour I did this spring with Peter Jöback. And wow, it did not disappoint. That tour was very challenging, but with the LV1 I could do things that no other console can.”
He continues, “So, when it was time to plan the Stonemountain Orchestra tour, I sat down with Sebastian Wennergren, our monitor engineer, to figure out if it could be done on the LV1 system. This band is very demanding, and everything has to sound absolutely perfect, both in the PA and all IEMs. However, the console still has to be small enough to be in and out quickly in a variety of venues. The LV1 fit the bill and, again, did not disappoint.”
“Another benefit,” he adds, “is that any of the eight plugin slots can be sidechained individually. For example, on the bass I can have one compressor that reacts to the actual bass, another that reacts to the kick, and, if needed, a third one that reacts to the cowbell. Very flexible. And since I quite often run both FOH and monitors for different bands, it’s really cool that I can have different delay groups for different outputs. This means that I can have the latency very low in IEMs while having it a bit higher for the PA where it doesn’t matter as much.”
He remarks that a crucial advantage is the LV1’s setup time, especially when visiting festivals. “It is impressive how fast we can get things going. The build time for FOH is less than a minute, and the footprint is about 50x50cm. I don’t know if there is another system with this power that can match that. And when the show is done, I just close my Peli and roll out before anyone notices who stole their coffee (it was me…). Moreover, since the LV1 system is modular, you can really tailor your setup to fit your needs. You can run everything on a laptop or hook up a touch monitor, or choose to use one or two Waves FIT Controllers. Also, you can have a case with internal IO, or not. It’s really fun to see how everyone has their own way of building this. There are some really creative and amazing LV1 setups out there.”
“One thing that Waves has done really well,” he remarks, “is the ease of use when it comes to networking. I have a lot to learn about networking, but I never encountered any issues with it on the LV1. During the Stonemountain Orchestra tour, we successfully connected nine devices via the SoundGrid network, and it functioned seamlessly. The only time there has been an issue was when I was overthinking things and tried to come up with a complex routing solution. After an hour of scratching my head, the solution was one button away and could not have been simpler. I’m not used to things being easy in networking.”
Vegna comments about his setup, “The Stonemountain Orchestra is a quite complex beast to tame. There are 14 musicians on stage, and they like to have guest artists. So we run 15 stereo IEMs. Starting from the stage, we have around 50 inputs, all connected to the FOH console where I run a 64-channel eMotion LV1. From there I share all the boxes with my monitor engineer, who also has a 64-channel LV1 mixer up on stage, mixing four wireless IEMs and eleven wired IEMs. We actually use the two headphone outputs on the IONIC 16 since they sound really clean and nice.”
He continues, “From my end, I send anywhere from two to ten stereo outputs to feed the PA, subs, front fill, center, side fills and so on. The whole system has a capacity of 70 inputs and 58 outputs. To top it off, we record every input and output. The recorded inputs are used for virtual soundcheck while the recorded outputs are mainly for troubleshooting purposes. Additionally, they can also be sent to any standing musician who may want something to practice to.”
Vegna particularly appreciates the LV1’s integrated plugin workflow: “Since a lot of the sounds on the album were created using Waves plugins, we can easily bring those effects out on tour. Things like a stereo effect on the bass, a specific delay and vocal effects. These things are of course not do or die; however, they certainly contribute to making a positive impression on the band and the artist. Being able to faithfully recreate the sounds they are familiar with from the studio can enhance their overall experience.”
Vegna’s must-have plugin is the Waves F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ. “If I had to, I could do a show with just this one plugin. The biggest challenge mixing Stonemountain Orchestra is to make room for everything in the mix. There is so much going on at the same time. I couldn’t have done this without the F6. The dynamic section makes me dial things in so that it only reacts when needed. And being able to sidechain anything to anything is just dynamite. The F6 sits on most channels, and I rely heavily on the sidechain in the dynamic section. This cleans up the reverbs, ducks the bass when the kick hits and keeps the horn section out of the way from the vocals. Just a superb tool.”
He continues, “If the F6 is my first plugin, the Scheps Omni Channel 2 is a close second. Not only does it sound great, but the workflow is very flexible, and the overview is second to none. And it actually works with the Waves MyFOH (Remote control tablet app for the Waves eMotion LV1), which was a nice surprise. I use this as my main channel strip for everything that’s going to monitors, since I quite often have to run up to the stage with an iPad. I highly recommend messing around with the resonance dial on the high pass filter. This can turn your kick drum into any sound you want, just amazing. And if you want to dig deeper, all of the modules can run in stereo, dual mono or MS. I am also a big fan of the Waves InPhase plugin. I use it mainly for drums, mostly for aligning close mics to the overheads. But I also use it for any source where I have more than one mic or DI on. That can be bass if I have both a DI and a mic on the amp, or on a guitar amp where I use two mics on. In that case I don’t really care about the ‘Capture’ feature. I use it to find the best tone between the mics rather than making sure it’s actually in phase.”
He also makes good use of the Waves Magma series (Magma Tube Channel Strip, Magma Springs, Lil Tube, BB Tubes): “The Magma series offers great tone boxes that kind of bring the instrument closer in the mix. I use it for bass, vocals and sometimes even on the master bus. You have to be careful though, so you don’t overdo things with these plugins. A little goes a long way. And sometimes, you can overdo things! Finally, for anyone who’s just getting started and has a hard time grasping the concept of compression, Waves has the solution: Renaissance Vox. One parameter compression. Boom! Done!”
Vegna sums it up: “For me there are two things that can never be compromised: sound quality and reliability. When it comes to these, the eMotion LV1 has proven to be second to none. It gives both me and the artist the confidence to deliver the best possible concert experience for the audience.”