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All Access: Katy Perry

Mix magazine interview with audio engineers and live sound crew on mixing audio for Katy Perry 2009 tour. Tips, techniques and equipment applications from Katy Perry's front of house (FOH) and monitor mix engineers. Mix magazine March 2009

Front-of-house engineer Fern Alvarez Jr.

Skyrocketing to the top of the pop world with her smash debut single, “I Kissed a Girl,” off the One of the Boys album (2008), Katy Perry is enthralling fans across the States, including the star-studded audience at this year’s Grammy Awards. Mix caught up with the songstress, band and giant inflatable fruit onstage at San Francisco’s Fillmore.

Both front-of-house engineer Fern Alvarez Jr. (who is also production manager) and monitor engineer Dave “Supa” Rupsch are working on Digidesign Profile consoles. For effects, Alvarez relies on a Bomb Factory BF76 compressor and a Franklin d2 EQ for Perry’s vocals; Smack on background vocals; Purple Audio comp for bass guitar; Joemeek comp for acoustics; ReVibe reverb on Perry and background vocals; and Reverb one for all instruments.

Katy Perry

“We’re using house P.A. systems; otherwise, we are using Clair Global as our audio provider,” Alvarez says. “I normally use the i4 P.A. with i4Bs and S4 subs.

“It’s been awhile since I have toured with an artist who has so much excitement in providing her audience the best show every night,” he continues. “Katy has a vision that very few really ever see or even want to approach if handed the opportunity. Her band is a great pleasure to mix. Their inputs are very consistent, and I’m actually starting to take them for granted and forget how easy the show is.”

Monitor engineer Dave “Supa” Rupsch

Photos: Steve Jennings

According to monitor engineer Dave “Supa” Rupsch, “It is not a very plug-in-intensive setup. I use Impact for kick and snare compression, and Bomb Factory compressors for bass DI and Katy’s acoustic. As for backing vocals, good-old Smack does the job with some mild compression. On Katy’s vocals, I am just using the basic onboard compressor to balance out her vast dynamic range in her in-ears [Ultimate Ears UE-7 ambients; translucent-pink with a strawberry on the side]. On all the in-ear mix outputs, I am using the Focusrite 6-band parametric EQ and a limiter; on the band I use UE-7 Pros, non-ambient. Katy likes reverb in her ears; for that, I use the ReVibe plug-in with a medium hall ‘verb return: 2.5-second decay time, 28ms pre-delay.”