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Aimee Mann's monitor engineer Ryan Cecil is no stranger to intimate singer/songwriters — his resume includes Norah Jones, Rufus Wainwright and many others. While working with FOH engineer/production manager David Mann, Cecil reveals his tricks for working with the a vocalist's “softer” side.
How much equipment are you carrying?
We carried a monitor system, microphones and some pre's for FOH. Sennheiser provided us with a full complement of mics for the tour [Mann is a Sennheiser/Neumann-endorsed artist]: Sennheiser Evolution (602, 609, 903, 614), 421s and Neumanns on Aimee's vocals (KMS105) and overheads (TLM 193). Sennheiser's biggest contribution was the InnovaSon SY40 that they lent us, which allowed us to carry our own monitor console.
Aimee's East Coast dates on the current tour will also be available as a live DVD. How did this work out?
The key to any good live recording is keeping the overall stage volume and FOH volume down, especially for a show where the band isn't playing and singing at “11.” On the tour, the guitar and bass players' wedge mixes were bleeding into Aimee's mic, so we directed the wedges away from the center position and slowly weened the guys off those frequencies.
What is your must-have piece of gear?
A comfy chair! I was recently introduced to the Empircal Labs' Distressor on a JC Chasez tour and I don't see myself doing a pop tour without one. They just get the vocal right out there on top of the mix, and it stays there all night.
What do you do when you're not on tour?
I mostly work for Scorpio Sound (Boston). I spend most of my off-time during the winter skiing and snowmobiling. In the summer, there is no such thing as off-time.