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Live Sound

Phoenix Goes West with FOH Engineer Matt West

The French act’s current world tour continues this spring with FOH engineer Matt West in tow.

New York, NY (January 2, 2019)—French synthpop act Phoenix has spent the last year touring the world behind 2017’s Ti Amo album, and that journey has no end in sight for now, with dates in Japan and Mexico lined up for this spring. All along the way, FOH engineer Matt West has been bringing the band’s retro synth grooves to life, mixing on a Solid State Logic L500 live digital console.

While West has extensive experience on digital consoles, he says he has mostly used them for ergonomic reasons, rather than sound: “I’m an analog engineer and I come out of that world.

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On previous tours, I had an outboard rack that I’d carry everywhere with me, with some nice compressors like dbx 160s, Distressors, 901s—all that lovely sort of stuff. During rehearsals, I thought I’d try out the [SSL’s] onboard dynamics… The console sounded great, so I don’t use that rack any more, and I haven’t missed it.”

West uses his mix to manipulate the performance, throwing in filter sweeps, muting parts of the P.A., and so on. “We have a great relationship, and the desk is all-important in that, because that is my tool, my instrument,” he said. “If I’m not able to do things on a console that we’re trying to reproduce, then I find limitations. To date, we’ve been able to do everything the band or I have thought of, and that says it all.”

One aspect of the console that West turns to during performances is the adjustable All-Pass Filter on all processed paths—inputs and outputs. “There are always issues with phase,” he noted, “and you only ever have the basic 180-degree invert button, so you can easily lose your bottom end or part of the midrange, [but] not with the all-pass filter. The ability to adjust the frequency and EQ of what you reverse has opened my eyes, or ears, to what is possible with phase, both on single inputs and grouped. You can check this at every stage.”

Solid State Logic •