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French Space Pop Touches Down in U.S.

French space-pop group L'Impératrice has been touring the world with FOH/monitor engineer Antoine Guyonnard and a variety of Allen & Heath desks in tow.

Antoine Guyonnard runs both FOH and monitors for L'Impératrice from an Allen & Heath S5000 desk.
Antoine Guyonnard runs both FOH and monitors for L’Impératrice from an Allen & Heath S5000 desk.

France (November 9, 2022)—L’Impératrice’s sound may be from another world, but it has taken the French space-pop group around the globe this year, hitting festivals like Coachella and Primavera Sound to support the band’s latest album, Tako Tsub. Along for the ride has been Antoine Guyonnard, the act’s long-time sound engineer, who has seen the tour’s production—and crowds—return to pre-pandemic sizes along the way.

“When the lockdown restrictions began to ease, we had to work with a smaller, lighter show than normal,” he said. That stretch found him working on a compact Allen & Heath SQ-5 96 kHz, 48-channel mixer, with a pair of DX168 Expanders deployed for onstage I/O. “We went all over the world with the SQ-5, which I pushed to its limits,” he admits.

After the first run of dates with the SQ-5, the live show pivoted to a larger scale production which required a step up in mixer size and channel count. Opting to keep using a version of the existing show file, Guyonnard, who mixes both FOH and monitors for the band, paired a dLive S5000 Surface with a CDM32 MixRack for the larger show, with additional I/O provided via a pair of DX168 Expanders. Additionally, a Dante card is installed for Virtual Soundcheck with a superMADI card fitted to enable UAD Live Rack integration.

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For the overseas leg of the L’Impératrice tour, taking in the US, Canada and Mexico, the 28-fader S5000 Surface was swapped out with the 12-fader C1500 Surface. With all dLive MixRacks built around the same 128-channel 96kHz processing core, Guyonnard said, “I split important sources, like kick, snare, bass and vocals, to work on the audio specifically according to their destination, whether that’s the PA, IEMs or Wedges. Here again the available resources are more than sufficient to mix our 64 inputs, splits, effect returns, inserts, and so on.”

Using the same family of desks provided other kinds of continuity, such as using built-in RackExtra FX. “I really like the onboard processing and effects,” he said. “All the reverbs, the DEEP emulations of preamps and compressors, the ADT doubler, the Dimension Chorus, and a special mention to the Source Expander which replaced all my gates.”