DiGiCo Quantum range onboard processing delivers streamlined flexibility for The 1975 extended world tour

The 1975’s appetite for touring is unparalleled and their schedule is gruelling, so their touring equipment needs to be able to keep up. Eighteen rounds of air and road freight can take its toll and reliable consoles that can withstand dust, heat, cold and humidity are vital as the team and their equipment cross multiple time zones.

With a DiGiCo Quantum 7 throughout at front of house, and a Quantum 5 at the monitor position, for the latter portion of the tour, The 1975 can be assured their sound will remain exactly how they like it, wherever the tour takes them. Engineers Lee McMahon and Francois Pare explain why DiGiCo Quantum is the only console range they can imagine touring with.

For Pare at the monitor position, it all started at the DiGiCo’s HQ in Chessington in the mid 2000’s on a training day with the manufacturer’s Tim Shaxson.

“I don’t think I’ve used any other desk since 2016,” says Pare. “Nowadays the shows are so involved, there aren’t many desks that can handle the number of channels we need. On The 1975, we have an eight-piece band, and the show is quite theatrical, there’s a lot going on effects wise on stage, so it all adds up!”

At Front of House, Lee McMahon’s story is very similar and he has been using DiGiCo consoles exclusively since 2018. He explains why: “Building this show has been an amazing journey; the band really care about sonics and how to interpret album production elements in the live domain. That’s something I take very seriously. I want to present their craft in the best way possible, sometimes pushing the boundaries of what is traditionally achievable within occasionally hostile acoustic spaces. It’s been a lot of fun bringing this show to fans all around the world. I’ve toured with SD11i, SD12, SD10 and SD5 consoles at different times over the years, but the Quantum processing has given me a lot more room to do things the way I want to.”

With a show this complex, a lot of channels are needed, but how do you keep easy access on the console to all that audio without resorting to a gigantic footprint?

“Broadly speaking, I mix inputs to Groups that combine at the Master buss,” he explains. “I have around 200 channels, accounting for around 128 stage inputs, effects returns, utility channels and playback. I’m using matrices to drive PA, nearfields, auxiliary record feeds, 2-tracks and VIP feeds. I use a lot of Groups, about 80 percent of my show is just on the Control Group layer which is controlling a mixture of input channels, group output and aux sends. This means I can keep my head up and respond to the mix as I want to, without having to hop around the console.”

The Quantum range has benefitted from a series of upgrades, not least the Mustard Processing and Spice Rack. Using the Naga 6 software engineers can solo filter bands without effecting the output of the channel, allowing them to monitor and audition dynamic filters during the show.

Distortion, gates and compression are now all available on the console, without having to resort to outboard plugins or standalone units, further contributing to the efficient workflow that keeps engineers coming back to the DiGiCo Quantum range.

“I’ve got 152 input channels, around 59 Auxes and a 31×16 Matrix,” explains Pare. “It’s a huge show. I try to keep my use of the onboard features as limited as possible to keep the show streamlined, just in case, but the Mustard and Chilli are really needed. There is a distortion we use on the saxophone, of all things. It’s an octave down and adds a kind of guitar feel, thickening up the mix. It’s really nice and I’d need to have an outboard distortion if I didn’t have that. We also use it for vocals, so it’s handy to have. The EQs are really good, too.”

Communication across multiple departments is key when shows are this complex, but when set-up time is tight a failsafe method for resetting the monitor desk into show mode is needed.

“The thing I use the most of are the Macros. I have 24 channels of talkback and you don’t want to accidentally leave talk-back open during the show. We have different systems – Riedel, Motorola, etc. It’s a matrix of communication, so the Macros are really important – we turn around so quickly, it’s vital to have a speedy way of resetting. Knowing I’ve got those 40 or so buttons that can be anything I want just makes it so much faster. The competition doesn’t have that, it’s really flexible and it is what sold me on the DiGiCo from the get go.”

“I use a lot of Macros front of house, too,” adds McMahon. “Some are triggered by GPI pedals at my feet, others from custom-made buttons on the surface, as well as QLab chasing time code and firing MIDI back into the console. It has given me the ability to do a lot of ‘momentary’ mix moves that are repeatable, in ‘time zero’ and seamless. The recall scope that DiGiCo consoles have is unparalleled in my opinion – you can literally do whatever you want and adapt to change quickly.”

Touring the world for 18 months is a mammoth undertaking and having a strong team behind you is essential. Demands are high on equipment and personnel, so it is inevitable there will be issues, but DiGiCo’s reputation for excellent support does not disappoint.

“DiGiCo support has been fantastic worldwide,” says McMahon. “Anytime I’ve had a question or needed assistance with anything to do with the console or infrastructure, they’ve been super helpful.”

“The desks are really, really reliable and that’s why we all use them, but if anything fails there are a bunch of people you can call, they’re all in my phone,” Francois adds. “You just have to think, what time-zone am I in? Then grab the right number.”

It is not just the sound that benefits from the streamlined DiGiCo workflow, as both McMahon and Pare testify.

“With my partner-in-crime, Francois, in monitor world also on a Quantum console, it was a very easy integration as we can share SD-Racks,” says McMahon.

“Sharing racks makes it all much more streamlined,” Pare concludes. “Our production manager loves it when we say we can cut down on equipment and transport costs. That’s good for everyone.”

Info: www.digico.biz

Read other news tagged with:
Skip to toolbar