Live Sound

All Access: Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae

Skyrocketing to the top of the charts, co-headliners Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae’s brought their crowd-pleasing blend of old-school R&B and hip-hop with their “Hooligans in Wonderland” tour. M 7/01/2011 5:00 AM Eastern

Skyrocketing to the top of the charts, co-headliners Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae’s brought their crowd-pleasing blend of old-school R&B and hip-hop with their “Hooligans in Wonderland” tour. Mix caught up with the crew when they stopped by San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in early June.

Bruno Mars’ FOH engineer, Derek Brener

Bruno Mars’ FOH engineer, Derek Brener

Bruno Mars’ FOH engineer, Derek Brener, is mixing on a DiGiCo SD8, citing its dynamic EQs as a plus. “Bruno’s performance is incredibly dynamic,” he says. “Having control over very specific frequencies and their bandwidth on multiple instruments allows me to get loud without being abrasive, and quiet without being thin. I can de-ess, de-bite and de-mud the vocals, horns and guitars in a heartbeat.” Onboard plug-ins include C4 compressors on guitars and Waves Re-Verb on vocals; outboard gear comprises Distressors for vocals and bass, and a D2 for delay.

Bruno Mars sings through a Shure UHR handheld with a Telefunken M80 capsule.

Reggie Griffith, Janelle Monae FOH engineer, mans an SD8 and a Yamaha 5D. “The SD8 with dynamic EQ in various configurations is made to handle shows with multiple playback channels with live performers.” Onboard, his secret is out: C4 insert on vocals. “I must mention our production manager, Joel Foreman. This production with all the diverse venues does not work without Joel’s hand at the helm. Challenges from day to day are handled with aplomb and a sense of gracious camaraderie.”

Monae monitor engineer Alex MacLeod is on an SD8, using a Waves C4 inserted on her vocal. “It really helps me take the edge off her voice,” he says. All processing is done internally on the SD8 and Waves bundle. Monae has a combination of Ultimate Ears UE11s on Sennheiser IEM300 G3 units and two Clair SRM wedges and sidefills. “The whole experience on this tour has been awesome—from the Clair crew to the challenge of never having used this console before, and having to dial in a 14-piece band wearing 14 stereo in-ear mixes on 52 input channels.”

Monae sings either through a Sennheiser MD 5235 wireless or a hard-wired MD 431. “Both sound really good,” explains MacLeod.

Mars monitor engineer Mike Graham is also on an SD8, using numerous Waves plug-ins: C4 multiband comp to round out some spots on Mars’ vocal; Trueverbs for BGVs and drums; and an S1 stereo imager on Mars’ ear mix. A Lexicon PCM96 vocal verb is the only outboard piece. The entire band is on Future Sonics MG6 in-ears; Mars uses a combination of ears (UE11s), wedges (two pairs of Clair SRMs) and sidefills (Clair R4s over Prism subs). “Bruno is a true talent and The Hooligans are some seriously gifted musicians. That coupled with the fact that they are all genuinely nice guys makes my job a lot easier.”