Bruno Mars brought his 85-date worldwide 24K Magic Tour to the Bay Area back in late July, with two nights at the SAP Center in San Jose, where Mix caught the show. After opening in Belgium in late March 2017, Mars hit the States in mid-July with a Clair Brothers P.A. and a veteran crew. The tour returns to the Bay Area this month before concludiing in Los Angeles.
“The DiGiCo SD7 mixing console has been a choice of mine for years,” says FOH engineer Chris Rabold. “Feature-wise, it offers a world of options; it’s hard to beat in that department. I use both the onboard processing and some plug-ins via Waves. I have a rack of hardware toys I like to make use of, as well. At this point we’re right around 100 inputs.
“My rack gear is almost always master bus, rhythm section and vocal-specific,” he continues. “On this run, the bass guitar gets a Distressor, an Overstayer MAS and a SansAmp. Snares get Fatsos, Distressors and Overstayer MAS. Drum bus compression is handled by both an Overstayer SVC and Overstayer SFE.
“Bruno’s vocal gets a BSS901 into a Distressor into an Empirical Labs DerrEsser. Background vocals all have Rupert Neve 5045s inserted across them. Finally, the stereo bus gets an API 2500 bus compressor into a Sonic Farm Creamliner.
“Bruno’s live approach, thankfully, is to produce something that is not a direct copy of the album. By and large, everything’s a little faster and with a few more pieces added to the puzzle. ‘Live’ really is the whole point. It’s a blast. This show has a very specific design sonically, and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. This gig has challenged me in the best ways possible.”
“I’ve been using the DiGiCo SD7 for quite a while now,” says monitor engineer Ramon Morales. “It’s a very well-laid-out desk with everything you need right in front of you. Mixing in-ears on the SD7 changes everything. You can place instruments in their own space without compromising everything else. I like to create my mixes on the desk first, then after a few rehearsals I’ll add plug-ins, if needed. But everything is pretty much on the desk—pre, EQ and gate/compression.
“My SD7 is pretty full at the moment, he continues. “I’m running my session at 96k, which makes a huge difference, but it also keeps me limited on the input/output availability. Currently I have three SD racks at 56 inputs each; I’m pretty tapped on outputs also.” Some favorite outboard rack gear includes an Avalon 737, TC Electronic System 6000 and a Bricasti M-7.
“Working for Bruno Mars keeps you, and everyone, wanting to be the best at what you do!” Morales concludes. “I am truly blessed to be a part of this tour and do what I love to do. And also have a killer Clair audio crew!”
Drum tech Jason Bowers takes care of the kit, which is miked nightly with: Shure Beta 91A on kick 1; Telefunken M82, Kick 2; DW mic on kick; Shure SM 57 on snare 1 top, Granelli 5790 snare 2 top; Telefunken M80SH on snare 1 & 2 bottom; mojave MA-101FET on Hi-Hat and ride; Shure Beta 98MP on toms and floor toms; Telefunken M82 on large tom; Mojave MA-201 on overheads; Radial JDI on SPD and kick trig.
Mars sings into a Sennheiser SKM5200 with a 5235 capsule, his choice for a few years. “We tried a few different microphone combinations on him and just kept going back to Sennheiser,” monitor engineer Morales says. “A Sennheiser Digital 9000 system takes care of all the vocal mics on stage, and we just swapped to a Sennheiser Digital 6000 for horns, which consists of four DPA 4099 microphones.” IEMs are Shure PSM1000.
The Clair Brothers P.A. system consists of, per side: 16 CO12 boxes on the main hang, 6 CP218 flown subs, 14 CO12 for the side hang, 12 CO8 for rear hangs, 4 CP6 front fill boxes built into the stage, and 6 i5B sub front fills.
“Chris gets a stereo output (mono for Moog Voyager) of each board so he can control the elements,” says keys tech Tremaine Williams. “Most interesting is the custom chopped B3 and 147 Leslie that are both covered in Rhino Liner; the Leslie lives under the stage. I just try to make it easy for a bad-ass player to do his thing.“