Many engineers begin in sound reinforcement and then gravitate to studio work. Not so for Nashville recording engineer Matt Svobodny, who moved to a successful career in live sound, working with top acts such as Ryan Adams and Steve Earle. Having just completed Earle's The Revolution Starts Now tour in the U.S., we caught up with the FOH mixer while packing for the show's European leg.
Are you carrying production?
We're doing all in-ear mixes, so we carry a Yamaha 02R to do six mono mixes and two thumper mixes for the two drum kits. We carry all the mics, cables, stands, monitor console, splitter and backline, so whether we're doing a club or a festival, all we ask for is a clean stage and three AC drops.
What are your must-have items?
I have minimal needs at FOH, but I do bring some compressors — Universal Audio 1176s and a JoeMeek SC2 — and use house gates and other comps.
Is there a secret to Earle's live sound?
Everything to me is about gain structure. I get Steve's vocal as loud as humanly possible by notch filtering. I keep the EQ on the channel strip mostly flat, although I'm not afraid to EQ something to make it sound right. Steve's mic is an Audix OM-6. It's got a wide pattern that's not too wide, with good off-axis sound. If Steve's vocal is huge, brilliant and sounds great, then everything else mostly falls into place.
Where can we find you when you're not on the road?
My parents have a cabin in northern Minnesota and I like to spend as much time as possible up there with my wife and dogs hiking and fishing for walleye and northern pike.