With the release of OneRepublic’s third studio album, Native, this past spring, the Colorado-based pop-rock band have taken to the road to bring its music to the people. The international tour began in February and is slated to run through September of 2014, with audio production resources being handled by VER Tour Sound.
Production manager and FOH engineer Zito chose a DiGiGo SD5, with an additional pair of DiGiCo SD-Racks and an SD-Mini Rack for FOH. Everything is run digitally at 96kHz from the inputs to the power amps and they’re employing Optocore from the two stage racks to the MiniRack. "I'd been hearing great things about DiGiCo’s SD line and wanted to try it out," says Zito, who has also handled FOH duties for Backstreet Boys, Babyface, Billy Currington and Sum 41. "I was especially attracted to the console being 96kHz and able to handle the Waves plug-ins internally. The SD5 gave me a great platform to mix on, that I was able to learn quickly. I want to give a special shout-out to Matt Larson and Ryan Shelton with Group One Ltd. for the great support, too."
The 6-piece pop-rock band, fronted by dynamic lead singer Ryan Tedder, is utilizing about 80 inputs to FOH for stage inputs and playback. In addition, OneRepublic has a ‘B’ section that requires an additional dozen inputs. "The B-section is a stripped-down aural respite in the middle of the high-energy show that highlights the musical talents of the band," explains Zito. "Members rotate through various instruments: piano, cello, harmonium, Dobro, nylon guitar, acoustic guitars and an upright cocktail kit. Additional inputs are also used for an extensive talkback system, which allows easy communication during the show between all of our techs, engineers and even the Lighting Director—all routed into the desk and sent out to the respective production staffers. Every member of the tech crew has an IEM mix with a discrete feed of the talkback system, which even includes 2-way radios and COM for the lighting tech. (Even the stage manager, set carps and video guys get mixes!) At FOH, I route these busses to a small ‘shout’ speaker so I can be alerted to any issues or ‘audibles’ the band may call."
Zito loves the number of VCA's and the general layout of the desk, as well as the Macros. "I’ve set up two Macros that I’ve found to be extremely useful for this band. The first is for my lead vocal channel. I have it set up with two inputs, one with his main mic into the ‘main’ input on the channel and the other with his spare mic into the ‘alt’ input on the channel. I've set up a macro to toggle, so if for some reason we need to go to the spare mic, it's only a simple button press and that mic comes up in the same channel. My FOH routing is pretty simple and I just focus on getting good inputs from the stage, doing as little as possible to them, and mixing the show! The band is pretty straightforward and the mixing side of the console is very intuitive, so I was able to dial in mixes easily. I want to focus on mixing, not some clunky console interface with dozens of buried menus. "I also have a very mobile lead singer that likes to jump in the pit and finds himself directly in front of the front-fill speakers. I run my front fills off of an aux send for this purpose, and I have set up a macro to toggle his vocal on/off to the front fills so I can remove his mic when he's standing in front of them. This happens at every show and having instant access to that macro has saved the day more than once!"
Overall, Zito has been able to get everything he needs for FOH production within the SD5. "I initially started using some outboard gear, but I was losing clarity doing the two steps of A/D conversion for the I/O. I decided to keep everything in the console. Between the extensive dynamic control on the input strips and the Waves server, I have everything I need! I’m a huge fan of the SoundGrid platform and the versatility that gives me. On my drum inputs (kick inside, kick outside, snare top and snare bottom), I'm inserting the API 2500 compressor. On vocals, I'm using the Puig 660 and C6, and I have a couple other ‘trouble channels’ where I use the C6 as well. I'm also running eight instances of the IR-Live plug-in. I've loaded impulse responses from my favorite hardware units (Lexicon 480, TC M5000, Bricasti M7 and Yamaha SPX990) that I'm using exclusively for all my reverbs and they sound STELLAR! In a live show, I can’t tell the difference between the IR and the original unit. I have also automated the H-delay for delay on songs that require it. A REQ6 inserted prior to the H-Delay allows for some really cool filtered delays."
The heartbeat of the band is driven by the playback system. Everything slaves to this including all video playback. Due to the importance of the playback, they also have a redundant system in case of a problem, which has its own dedicated audio feed to FOH and monitors. Using a Radial SW8 Switcher provides seamless switching between the main and primary systems.
As far as recording, Zito multi-tracks each show for archival purposes as well as virtual soundcheck using MADI out of the console and into the MADI Pro Tools interface. "The way the console handles the Pro Tools inputs for virtual soundcheck is awesome," he raves. "It's so easy and quick to flip to…. I love that.
"The DiGiCo platform has completely exceeded my expectations. The console is so clean and transparent; it’s unlike any other console I’ve mixed on. With the amazing d&b J-Rig, we’ve been able to achieve some great results and Brett Stec of VER has done a fantastic job with it on this tour. Almost nightly, we hear from promoters and concert patrons that this is one of the best-sounding shows they’ve ever heard. The results we’ve achieved I directly attribute to the superb sonic quality of the SD5. I can’t imagine myself mixing on anything else!"
Photo Credits: Brian Peterson (Zito @ FOH); Ben Dickman (Live Band shots). Pictured: Zito, Production Manager/FOH; Brett Stec, Systems Engineer.