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All Access: Lily Allen

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

Lily Allen sings through a Sennheiser 945 radio mic.

After jet-setting through her European dates, vocal chanteuse Lily Allen hit The States, playing medium-sized venues to support her latest release, It’s Not Me, It’s You. (Check out the February 2009 Mix for an interview with producer Greg Kurstin on recording the recently released album.) Mix caught up with Allen and her four-piece band — guitarist Martin Waugh, bassist Morgan Nicholls, keyboardist Eddie Jenkins and drummer Jonny Jenkins — at San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre.

Front-of-house engineer Shan Hira is mixing on a Soundcraft Vi6, using all onboard effects except for a Manley Voxbox and an XTA ⅓-octave graphic EQ on Allen’s vocals.

“Tim Fraleigh from [sound company] Firehouse Productions has been doing a great job of looking after us on a daily basis,” Hira says. Firehouse is providing FOH and monitor desks, as well as a complete line system, which, Hira says, “has enabled us to get some consistency to the show as we are not carrying a P.A. system; we’re using all in-house systems. On the European leg, which we did just before the American leg, we used Skan PA hire. The P.A. was a d&b J Line system of eight J8s [80 degrees], two J12s [120 degrees] and four J-Subs per side, plus six Q7 fills. Configuration changed daily due to the variety of venues we played in. The amps were D12s running AES digital signal and being controlled by d&b’s Rope software. As we were using the [Midas] XL4 as the main console, we were going through two XTA 226s to convert the analog signal to AES, as well as using them for the their onboard EQ.

Front-of-house engineer Shan Hira

“The band is really tight and all exceptional players, making them a pleasure to mix,” Hira continues. “Lily has been singing really great; her tuning and mic technique are really good. That, coupled with using a hypercardiod microphone, has enabled me to get the vocals out over the band. The shows have been going down very well indeed.”

Monitor engineer Francoise Le Moignan

Photos: Steve Jennings

Over in monitor land, engineer Francoise Le Moignan works a Digidesign Profile, citing its small footprint as necessary for this tour. Onboard effects employed include Revibe for Allen’s vocal and a Fairchild 660 on bass. “I feel that mixing monitors is to keep things as real as possible, so I tend to keep the mixes pretty open and natural,” Le Moignan says. “I’m not using any gates on the kit — the drummer has lots of dynamics that would be lost if his kit were gated heavily. Lily’s vocal doesn’t require any compression. I also feel that compression isn’t always necessary for vocals on monitors. The whole band and Lily are using Sennheiser EW 300 IEM G2 in-ears. There is a sub for the drummer. I have a DV sub, which is great for me; the stage sound has to be as clean as possible.

“It’s a pleasure to work with Shan, seeing as we both want the best out of the show and we very much work as a team.”

Lily Allen sings through a Sennheiser 945 radio mic. As it is hypercardioid, Le Moignan says, it helps in cutting down stage spill.