Live Sound

All Access: Arcade Fire

Photo: Steve Jennings

Mix caught Arcade Fire—Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Jeremy Gara and Sarah Neufeld—last month when they performed at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.


“I’ve been using the Avid D-Show for nearly 10 years now,” says FOH engineer Jim Warren. “I warned the band at the very start of the tour that if they wanted to go over 96 inputs, I would have to find a different console to use, and they insisted we’d never get to that number of inputs. We got there in the second week of rehearsals! In spite of being worked hard, it has performed flawlessly throughout the year. The only outboard gear I use are a Moogerfooger and Space Echo—two delay effects pedals that sit up against the console meter bridge,” he continues. “Everything else the console’s onboard EQ and dynamics processing, or plug-ins.

photo of Jim Warren

Front-of-house engineer Jim Warren

“The band’s arrangements tend to be pretty dense, so the first task was to achieve as much separation as possible between instruments on a song by song basis,” he continues. “The majority of the inputs have the EQ and pan recalled on a snapshot, which helps with fine-tuning and creating space. The second step is to mix the show very dynamically and ride in and out all the ‘hooks.’ It is impossible to have everything louder than everything else. I would definitely say I am aiming at a ‘live’ mix. The comment I always hear about Arcade Fire live shows is the incredible energy that they generate onstage, and I think when you’re trying to convey that energy, it’s important to allow the mix to breathe and to give the impression that everything’s a little out of control. In reality, of course, while allowing one thing to go crazy—quite often with Will Butler on the other end of it—I’m reining in other stuff to make room for it.”

photo of Jon Ormesher

Monitor engineer Jon “JonO” Ormesher

“I am mixing on a DiGiCo SD7,” says monitor engineer Jon “JonO” Ormesher. “There are at least 12 people onstage, so I need a board that will accommodate my 52 outputs. I am using internal FX/Gates/Comps—no need for any outboard equipment.


“For wedges I am using a combination of d&b audiotechnik M2s and M4s, along with a ButtKicker for the drummer and a sub for one of the keyboard players,” he continues. “The percussion players are on wedges alone and the brass are on ears; everyone else has wedges and ears. With this band, it’s not one mix position per band member, as they all swap instruments frequently, sometimes during a song. We have 12 vocal mic positions on stage, and these have to be covered for all eventualities. We are using Sennheiser RF units and a combination of UE and Sensaphonic IEMs.

“My monitor tech is Yvan Sauve, who is an immense help in not only setting up the stage but in keeping me relatively sane. He has a very busy workload. There are 92 inputs to plug in and he does it with aplomb every show. I have to mention Mathieu Levesque for his tireless work on our RF. We have at least 16 RF inputs and 18 RF IEMs, which makes for a busy time these days, especially in Europe where the RF ‘rules’ are changing in every country. They are both a credit to Solotech.”

photo of Marc-Oliver “Marco” Germain

Systems engineer Marc-Oliver “Marco” Germain

Solotech of Montréal is the P.A. provider, with a main hang of 14 L-Acoustics K1s with three to six KARA downfills per side, depending on the venue. Eight K1 SB subs are flown per side, beside the K1, with an additional 14 K2 per side. There are also eight SB 28s per side on the floor, and six L-Acoustics KARAs as front fill. The B-stage, flown in front of the FOH position, is a full circle of 16 L-Acoustics ARCS and subs.

“I’m carrying a Meyer Sound SIM3 analyzer and two Meyer Galileos for all the EQ and time alignment,” says systems engineer Marc-Oliver “Marco” Germain. “Signal distribution is all done through Riedel Rocknet, AES/EBU with analog redundancy.”

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