Live Sound

Rascal Flatts

The good looks and sweet harmonies of Rascal Flatts (vocalist Gary LeVox; Jay DeMarcus, bass/piano; and Joe Don Rooney, guitar) has helped the band top 10/01/2005 8:00 AM Eastern

The good looks and sweet harmonies of Rascal Flatts (vocalist Gary LeVox; Jay DeMarcus, bass/piano; and Joe Don Rooney, guitar) has helped the band top the country and pop charts, selling more than 7 million CDs since 2000. The band hit the road in early June and wound their way across the U.S. before hitting a slew of county fair dates in August and September. Mix caught up with the tour at the Chronicle Pavilion (Concord, Calif.) in early July. Sound is provided by Sound Image (Escondido, Calif.).

Front-of-house engineer Jon Jon Garber at the DiGiCo D5; back row from left: Son Nishimura, P.A. system engineer; Jeremy Overall, A1 stage tech; Landon Storey, P.A. system engineer; and Brian Denny, A2 stage tech. Not pictured: production manager Chris Alderman

At FOH, production assistants cover the D5 alongside FOH engineer Garber; all three bands (including the two openers) are mixed on the D5. “The headroom is so much greater and cleaner,” Garber says of the all-digital console. “Just having a small front-of-house package is one of the most important benefits.”

Garber relies on the board's onboard processing and presets, but is still busy adjusting and “riding” the graphical user interface's faders. Garber uses dbx tube channel strips to warm up each of the main members' vocals. “It's a vocal band, so I build the mix around the vocals,” Garber says. “I spread out the mix with stereo panning, just as the musicians are positioned onstage. I go for a powerful dynamic mix: I range from 98 to 108 dBa. But sometimes the crowd is screaming at 120 and I can't compete. The P.A. just disappears.”

Monitor engineer Stuart Delk is working on a Yamaha PM5000, managing 23 wireless channels from the eight musicians onstage (including the three featured artists and a five-piece band).

Pictured from left: front-of-house engineer Jon Jon Garber at the DiGiCo D5; back row from left: Son Nishimura, P.A. system engineer; Jeremy Overall, A1 stage tech; Landon Storey, P.A. system engineer; and Brian Denny, A2 stage tech. Not pictured: production manager Chris Alderman

DeMarcus and Rooney sing through AKG 420L headset mics with Sennheiser G2 wireless systems. Shure wireless mics are used on acoustic guitars and mandolins, while dobro and banjo are sent through a Sennheiser wireless mic straight to the board. Fiddle is captured by a Sennheiser wireless and then goes through a Trace Eliot preamp into the console. Drums get Sennheiser Evolution G2 mics; Neumann KM184s cover hi-hats and overheads. Drummer John Riley and keyboardist Howard Duck sing backup through Sennheiser 855 wired microphones.

Bassist/vocalist/pianist Jay DeMarcus' bass goes through two Ampeg 8x10 cabinets, which is then taken direct to a passive Director box.

Monitor engineer Stuart Delk is working on a Yamaha PM5000, managing 23 wireless channels from the eight musicians onstage (including the three featured artists and a five-piece band). “It gets complicated with all the wireless instruments coming from the stage and the stereo mixes going to wireless in-ear monitors onstage,” Delk says. “I've been working with Professional Wireless Systems and they have really helped with all my wireless systems. They make a helical antenna I've been using, and it makes my system sound like it's hard-wired.”

Delk provides eight stereo mixes to the players from the board and uses limited pieces of outboard gear, including dbx 160 compressors, a TC Electronic M-One and a Yamaha SPX-990 reverb. “I prefer to keep things simple,” Delk says. “Sometimes you can over-tweak and kill the vibe that the band is trying to create onstage. I just use compression on kick and snare; a little reverb on vocals.”

Howard Duck, Keyboards

Everyone onstage is wearing in-ear monitors, including Delk for talkback communication. Most of the bandmembers wear Ultimate Ears custom-fitted wireless in-ear monitors. Delk and two members of the backup band wear Sennheiser wireless in-ears.

Sound Image provided the P.A.: JBL VerTec 4889 line arrays and 4880 sub cabinets (stage left/right and underneath the drum kit); proprietary Sound Image 1160 enclosures for front-fills; QSC Powerlight 6.0 and 9.0 amps; and BSS crossovers.

“We use the amphitheater's delays wherever we go,” Garber continues, “but our main P.A. system throws all the way to the back of the lawn seats.” Garber and system engineer Landon Storey walked the lawn of the Chronicle Pavilion to check the delays.


Don Rooney, Vocals/Guitar


Gary LeVox sings through a wireless Sennheiser 545 mic picked up by a Sennheiser G2 system.


Sound Image provided the P.A.: JBL VerTec 4889 line arrays and 4880 sub cabinets (stage left/right and underneath the drum kit); proprietary Sound Image 1160 enclosures for front-fills; QSC Powerlight 6.0 and 9.0 amps; and BSS crossovers.