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All Access: Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire Live

Arcade Fire made quite a splash in 2017, with the release of their fifth studio album, Everything Now, and the launch of their worldwide Infinite Content Tour, which blitzed through the U.S. and will hit Europe this coming spring. Mix caught the in-the-round show on October 25 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.

Front of House Engineer Jim Warren, left, pictured with systems engineer Marc-Oliver “Marco” Germain, mixes from an Avid S6L. “I’m running 98 inputs from the stage, plus FOH record mics and FX returns, et cetera, with about 30 outputs, including aux sends and various mix/record outputs,” Warren says. “I’m using a few plug-ins, such as multiband compressors, delays and reverbs, but most of the EQ and compression on the inputs is done using the console channel strip. I do have a couple of funky delay options for outboard gear—the Line 6 Echo Pro, which is the 19-inch version of the Echo Farm plug-in, and a MoogerFooger analog delay pedal.

“There is a lot going on during this show, so the new features on the S6L are very useful,” he continues. “I use snapshots, stay late after every rehearsal and do my programming. The S6L has a layout function where you can decide what appears on the top layer of the surface for every snapshot recalled. This goes a long way toward solving the issue of wading through all those inputs when I’m mixing. Spilling VCAs generally takes care of the rest.

“And never stop programming! Now that the console switches instantly between stage inputs and Pro Tools playback, I’ll quite often have a mad 15-minute programming session after soundcheck to tidy up new or rarely played songs that have been rehearsed that day. Just in case they suddenly appear on that night’s setlist.”

The design and spec of the P.A. system was done by Marc-Oliver “Marco” Germain and his company, Meduse Audio, with support and gear supplied by Solotech. “It’s been great because they were inclined to invest in AVB,” Germain says of Solotech. “The main hang is 12 L-Acoustics K1 on top of four K2s. Side hang is 16 L-Acoustics K2 and sub hang is eight L-Acoustics KS28 with the middle two reversed to do the cardioid pattern. This is the same on all four corners of the in-the-round configuration. Each corner has a flown amp rack consisting of 20 L-Acoustics LA12X amplifiers. The whole signal distribution is AVB-generated from a Meyer Sound Galaxy at FOH, and we are using Extreme Network switches to connect all the elements. On the floor we use 24 L-Acoustics KS28, 8 L-Acoustics X8s and eight arcs wide for fills.”

“When we first set up in rehearsal, as soon as I saw how cramped the stage was I sent out for loads of short, stubby mics,” says FOH engineer Warren. “The [Shure] 56As were the first to arrive, and they’re still there. My general philosophy with mics is where you put them is much more important than what they are. We’ve managed to mike the entire stage using only two mic stands on top of what we need for all the vocals. Everything else is clamped, clawed or Z-barred, and generally speaking, the mics stay where they’re supposed to be, in spite of sometimes having 16 musicians and a few backline techs on a 28×28 stage, with two drum kits in the middle.”

The vocal mics in the fixed positions consist of Sennheiser MD 431s, with RF Shure 58s on five of the vocals that move position around the stage. Regine Chassagne is on a Shure Beta 54 headset microphone.

Drums, including the kit pictured here with drum tech Patrick “Frenchie” Ouimet, are miked with a Beta 52 and 91 on kick; Sennheiser 504, Beta 98 and Beyer 201 on snare top, bottom and side, respectively; KSM 137 on the hi-hats; 504s on the toms; and a KSM 313 ribbon—the middle red mic—which is smashed through a compressor for kit ambience. Cymbals are close-miked from underneath with Audio-Technica 4051s.

Monitor Engineer Jon “JonO” Ormesher, pictured at left with Monitor & RF Tech Darren Dunphy, is mixing the band on a DiGiCo SD7 console. “As we are in the round on this tour, I am down to 54 outputs,” Ormesher says. “This will go back up to 60-odd outputs when we go back to end stage in South America. With the desk being pretty full, I am more than happy with the internal processors and FX.”

“We currently have 63 channels of RF—pretty much everything that the band picks up is wireless,” adds Dunphy. “The whole system is Shure and networked, controlled by the Axient system manager, which makes my day a lot easier with this amount of RF. I have my main rack which consists of 20 PSM 1000s for the band/crew/spares ears; three Shure PA821 Antenna Combiner; six AXT 400 dual-channel receivers, which are used for the lead vocals; Shure ATX 600 Spectrum Manager; Shure ATX610 show link access point; 17 Shure UR4Ds, which look after instruments like our marching toms/megaphones/BVs…the list goes on. Under the stage I also have another four separate racks which are networked and consist of another 20 UR4D for Gtrs/Brass/Strings/Keys.”