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The Devil Is in the Details

Since 1995, Greg Price has held court in Ozzy Osbourne’s kingdom as the “Prince of Darkness’” front-of-house engineer of choice.

Ozzy Osbourne’s wireless Shure Beta 58A often winds up in a bucket of water onstage, necessitating the mic to be switched out halfway through the show.Since 1995, Greg Price has held court in Ozzy Osbourne’s kingdom as the “Prince of Darkness’” front-of-house engineer of choice. Whether touring in support of his solo career or with heavy metal forefathers Black Sabbath, Price has been the man behind the faders. When the time came for Ozzy and his band—veteran bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson, new drummer Tommy Clufetos, and new axe-slinger Gus G.—to hit the road in support of their latest record, Scream, it was Price who was called on once again. So, with 15 years of touring with Osbourne behind him, how did Price prep for the latest venture?

“I was on the Glee juggernaut for two or three months,” states Price. “We rehearsed for a month and then we did five or six cities—played two to three nights in Radio City Music Hall, we played six or seven shows in L.A.—I had a lot of fun. So that kind of gives you an idea that I’m not afraid to jump out of the frying pan right into the fire and do different stuff,” adds Price, whose resumé also includes such rock luminaries as Van Halen, KISS, Rage Against The Machine, and Audioslave, to name just a few. “I started my career doing pop music, so I think that’s what helped me be able to do metal, but then go the other way. But then my approach to metal has been almost from a pop point of view—I want to be able to understand what the vocalist is singing.”

Price set up his Avid Venue D-Show FOH console knowing in advance that he was going to jump straight from one tour to the next. “Right after the last Glee show, they put my front-of-house console on a truck and shipped it as fast as they could to L.A. to start Ozzy rehearsals,” explains Price. “I had his files all ready, which were already loaded up into the console.”

Price is using the console’s Pro Tools integration to its fullest, recording all of the shows throughout the tour at the touch of a button. “We did the audio for the Glee DVD that they shot at Radio City on that rig—96 tracks of Pro Tools,” adds Price. “That doesn’t mean that I’m replacing high-quality recording trucks, but you can see the power of what we’ve got in our hands here. It’s a tremendous tool, and I truly believe that this digital work surface Pro Tools platform is something that is a necessity for engineers.”

Some of Price’s favorite tools behind the board have been Waves Audio’s plugins. Gone are the days of toting around a rack full of effects. “The boundaries that we have now as engineers are limitless,” exclaims Price. “Your mind is your only boundary. What you can dream up in your brain and think about as an audio path or as an effect in a show is the limit. I have Fairchild limiters in there, compressors— and you know I couldn’t tour with those; now I could put one on every channel. Waves Audio is working with Jack Joseph Puig, who has a killer Fairchild setting that I use on Gus G.’s guitar sound.”

Before the FOH signal is pushed through the Clair PA, it’s routed through a Dolby Lake DLP processor that allows systems engineer Christopher Nichols the ability to fine tune the system via a wireless tablet throughout the show, and then to an Alan Smart C2 compressor and into a battery of Lab.gruppen PLM 20000Q amplifiers.

“Let’s look at the top of the PA, our long-throw cabinet,” explains Nichols. “A lot of times during a show, with all the people in the venue, the acoustical characteristics of the gig will change in that area versus during the day—there’s a low mid that you’ve got to just work a little bit, mainly just dropping in one or two more filters if need be. So, you’re looking for all the information to get to the top row—you want to make all the little intangibles of Ozzy’s vocal as clear as possible because we are in the day and age now where people are paying $120 to get in the building. They expect [the sound] to be proper no matter where they’re at, if they’re in the front row or all the way up there—and with this technology, it’s not difficult at all.”

From left, Don Baker, monitor tech; Chris Nichols, systems engineer/crew chief; Greg Price, FOH engineer; Myles Hale, monitor engineer; Tyson Clark, PA tech; and Tim Shaner, PA tech.“I think the key for this whole thing is you can see that we’re wirelessly managing this PA system and, because it’s on the tablet, Chris is freed up to walk the room during my show to ensure that everybody has pristine audio throughout,” adds Price. “It’s not just one set and go, because the room changes. You can Smaart the heck out of this room empty, and it’s going to change when it fills up with people. He can literally adjust cabinets if he wants to; I don’t think you have to drill down to that much articulation during the show, but it sure is handy.”

Osbourne’s stage always sports buckets of ice-cold water, which the singer dumps on himself and usually the audience as well. While that might be a hazard for the front row, it can also mean trouble for his wireless Shure Beta 58A microphone. “Sometimes the mic goes in the bucket, completely submerged, and when it’s time for him to sing, he pulls it out, water everywhere, and starts singing—and it’s just fine,” says Price. “Now any mic is not going to stand up to being submerged and covered in foam and then dropped or whatever happens up there, and still manage to maintain its frequency integrity for the entire length of the show. We always have two mics going at the same time and make changes during a guitar solo. We’ve never had to go to Mic 3, but we do have it in the wings!”

When pressed for an answer as to what keeps him on the road, Price shoots an evil grin. “It’s a lot of fun,” he laughs. “This group of guys in this band is a lot of fun. You want to go to the gig everyday and do the gig—I feel lucky because I know every show’s not like that. I know a lot of guys that dread what happens at the show. This isn’t like that. This is one big family; it’s always been this way. As for Sharon and Ozzy, what can I say about those two? They’ve treated me better than my own parents, and I’m Ozzy’s age! I just feel fortunate.”




Ozzy Osbourne

Clair (Lititz, PA)

FOH Engineer:
Greg Price

Monitor Engineer:
Myles Hale

Crew Chief/Systems Engineer:
Chris Nichols

Monitor Tech:
Don Baker

PA Techs:
Tyson Clark, Tim Shaner

FOH Console:
Avid Venue D-Show

Monitor Console:
Avid Venue Profile

House Speakers:
Clair i-5, i-3, P-2

House Amplifiers:
Lab.gruppen PLM 20000Q

FOH Plug-Ins:
Waves Audio SSL G-Channel, C4 Multiband Compressor, Renaissance Vox, Doubler, TrueVerb, H-Delay, Ultra Pitch

Shure URD-4 with a Beta 58A capsule; Sennheiser; beyer Opus 88; Audio- Technica AE3000