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All Access: Drake

The Summer Sixteen tour

Drake performed three nights in the Bay Area in mid- to late-September, two at Oracle Arena in Oakland and then at the SAP Center in San Jose, where Mix caught up with the audio team just a couple of weeks before the tour was postponed due to the artist’s ankle injury.

FOH engineer Demetrius Moore is mixing on a DiGiCo SD7 console, which he says he’s been using “for its warm, smooth, musical sound. For this tour I’m using all plug-ins instead of my analog outboard rack. I’m using an AMS RMX16 Reverb, Lexicon 224 ’verb, H Delay and Eventide Black Hole. Then on outboard, a 737 Avalon for Drake’s vocal.” Drake’s vocal mic is a Sennheiser 9000.

“I try to bring a clean, warm sound to the mix,” Moore adds. “People might think it’s a rap show that’s just going to be all bass, no vocal clarity, with some feedback. That’s quite wrong because you’re going to get a big present vocal with a dynamic orchestration of music and a big bass sound. The combo of DiGiCo and d&b helps me achieve the musical sound that I’m after: Clear, smooth and in your face. The new d&b B22 is by far my favorite sub.”

Monitor engineer Sean Sturge mixes on a DiGiCo SD5 and is “a big fan of the console’s multiband compression. And I like the layout of the snapshot section with recall time duration and using timecode recall. I’m using two Waves Extreme Servers for the show, as well. This tour has been a real pleasure. To top it off, I’m touring with my son now that he’s 21—Ryan Koolman, our stage left P.A. tech.”

Drum tech John A. Cooper at the all-Sennheiser miked-up kit.

“We are using a d&b loudspeaker system compromising of J8/J12 subwoofers and B22 subwoofers, d&b’s latest sub to be released,” says Eighth Day Sound systems tech Wayne Hall. “We have their Y10P & V12 as front fills. The main hang is 24 J8s per side (array processed); flown-sub hang is eight J-Sub per side; side hang is 12 J8 and four J12 per side (array processed); the B22 Subs are used in a subwoofer array in front of the stage—nine stacks of two-high B22 subwoofers. The d&b’s array processing on the main and side hang P.A. has proved useful. We’re using d&b’s array calculator and R1 remote network to assist in designing and using the system, and Dolby Lake Processing for handling all the loudspeaker tuning and AES distribution to racks.”

Keyboard tech Dan Selim, left, with musical director/keyboardist Dalton “D10” Tennant. “D10 has been using Yamaha keyboards onstage with Drake for years now, most recently with the Montage series,” says Selim. “His keyboard kit consists of a Yamaha Montage 8, Yamaha Montage 7, MiniMoog Voyager and Yamaha XF7.

“The MiniMoog Voyager is used primarily for synth bass during songs without tracks, or to freestyle bass parts on top of songs. It’s a digitally programmable analog synth, so, some tuning is required. The Montage 8 is the default keyboard for Drake’s solo vocal segments of the show and song transitions, using blended stock sounds of grand piano, Rhodes and strings that are adjusted on the fly using the Part Control faders that are accessed like organ drawbars. Drake often will sing with only D10’s accompaniment, so the Montage 8 is turned way up in the mix, revealing every detail of the keyboard’s output. Yamaha’s Motif and Montage series have been a noticeably better choice when you need a rich and believable piano sound.

“The Ableton Live playback system is using two ‘roided out MacBook Pro laptops sent to two UA Apollo 16 interfaces via Thunderbolt. The system is redundant and switchable from the A or B computer (for stable playback and for in-show edits), so there are completely different audio paths before reaching the three Radial SW8 switchers—the third being used for clicks, SMPTE timecode and accessory tracks. The system was built using Novation Launchpads, so songs using tracks can be started by multiple users, such as a playback operator, D10 or the DJ, Future The Prince. The MOTU MIDI interfaces are used to link the multiple Launchpads together. MIDI timecode is sent from the laptops’ USB 3 into two Rosendahl MIF4 timecode convertor/generators and sent out via SMPTE audio to the DiGiCo FOH and monitor consoles so that snapshots are advanced as soon as the song is triggered.”