Singer/songwriter/guitarist Ani DiFranco is packing theaters across the U.S., out in support of her latest studio album, Knuckledown. Mix caught up with DiFranco's front-of-house engineer, Steve Schrems, at The Warfield (S.F.) in mid-February, about the tour, which is just spotlighting the artist and bassist Todd Sickafoose. Sound is provided by Klondike Sound Company, Schrems' “company of choice.”
“With the assistance of Larry Berger, V-DOSC tech, we use six V-DOSC elements and three dV-DOSC elements per side,” the engineer says. “We also use the EAW SB1000s for subwoofers; they're versatile and sound great.” DiFranco is currently singing through an Audix OM5, though Schrems has experimented with models from Shure, Neumann and Audix.
FOH engineer Steve Schrems
Schrems mixes on a Crest X VCA and uses Drawmer gates/comps, BSS Audio 901 II, TC Electronic M2000 and 2290 and a Yamaha SPX-990. “Mixing this show can be challenging, even more so than a full band onstage,” Schrems says. “Although I'm dealing with the nuances of acoustic instruments — limited to phase and EQ — it's quite satisfying when all is just right. Ani and Todd each produce a full sound alone with their acoustic instruments. They work well together arranging the music and we all work well together to balance their sound so that they're not competing for the same frequency.
“Lately, [monitor engineer] Sean Giblin has been lowering levels. This helps and hurts me at FOH. At times, the P.A. becomes the reference for the artists. With the variety of rooms we play, the experience for the artist will vary. In the end, the proof is in the reaction to folks coming to the show.”