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Mixing Nick Mason’s “Saucerful of Secrets” Tour

Pink Floyd founding member Nick Mason has been on the road this year with his 2022 “Saucerful of Secrets” tour.

FOH engineer Steven Carr
FOH engineer Steven Carr mixes Nick Mason at his Avid desk, using Waves plug-ins.

Knoxville, TN (July 21, 2022)—Pink Floyd founding member Nick Mason has been on the road this year with his 2022 “Saucerful of Secrets” tour. Along for the ride is FOH engineer Steven Carr, putting an Avid S6L 24D console and a phalanx of Waves plug-ins to use at each stop.

“I’m using the Avid S6L 24D console with one Stage 64 Rackm,” said Carr, who has also mixed the likes of Roger Taylor, Goldfrapp, Agnes Obel, Chris Rea and Katherine Jenkins, among many others. “The S6L has a built-in WSG-HD Waves SoundGrid card, which interfaces directly with two Waves Extreme SoundGrid Servers. I send a stereo mix via AES to a Lake LM44 to drive the PA that deals with system EQ, delay and levels. That’s it—very simple, no outboard. Because of the way I like to work—a compact, streamlined FOH system with an Avid console—having Waves plug-ins available and integrated is absolutely essential.”

As Carr explains it, having the plug-ins readily accessible “enables me to work as I would in a studio. It helps me take my live mix to a higher level of creative artistry, without needing racks upon racks of outboard. With the low latency of the Waves live system, and numerous instances of whichever plug-in I need, it often feels there is no limit to what I can do to achieve certain sounds and effects.”

While plug-ins may be a modern mixing tool, Carr puts them to use to recreate familiar sounds that were arduously created in the studio decades ago. Sometimes that means creating effects, but other times, it means giving every input that clear, precise studio sound: “The mix is very dynamic with punch and energy, yet it needs to be subtle when required. In songs like Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes,’ which Nick and his band are playing on this tour, this entire dynamic range is required within one song. Moreover, the stage has an old-school feel with loud vintage amps, and without any isolation between the musicians. So, my first big challenge was to reduce unwanted bleed into the vocal mics. Here, the expander option in the Waves SSL G-Channel is invaluable. This plug-in is a great model of a classic, and I use it on every drum channel for EQ, dynamics and tone. The compressor’s auto makeup gain is simply a must-have for me when mixing punchy, crystal-clear drums. I’ve also experimented with the Waves Primary Source Expander (PSE) to prevent mic bleed. Both plug-ins do the job brilliantly. With a bit of fine-tuning, I can automatically close open mics all around the stage when not in use, giving me a very tight close-miking-sounding mix even in reverberant rooms.”

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“Another issue is the variety of guitars used in this show. The guitar players switch guitars frequently, so tone and levels vary from song to song. Rather than interfere with the guitarists’ tone, I generally leave the EQs flat, with just some gentle high passing; instead, I use compression to control the feel of each instrument. Here, I use the H-Comp Hybrid Compressor on the guitar channels, to maintain a constant level from instrument to instrument. H-Comp is fantastically simple to use, though its simplicity is deceiving – it has so much variety. I love its Dry/Wet mix function, which I use for all of my parallel compression now.”

“I also use the C6 Multiband Compressor on the sub group to control any unruly frequencies, and dramatic level changes are controlled using snapshot settings. C6 is again a classic, and I rarely build a mix without it. In addition to using it as a general multiband compressor, I like to use its side chain function to help my kick drum and bass guitar play together nicely down in the low and sub regions of the mix.”

“Lastly, all my mixes are put together with these three plug-ins: the Waves API 550B EQ is essential for my subgroups; it’s musical and sweet and gives me what I need every time. The IR-Live Convolution Reverb is absolutely brilliant because I can import my own impulse responses. And my go-to delay for any situation is the Waves H-Delay Hybrid Delay.”

“This show goes into venues of all sizes, indoor and out,” Carr summarizes. “You never know what you’re walking into, no matter how well prepared you are – which is why a compact yet powerful system is essential. This system is exactly that: it allows me to get the precise and creative result that I need in every show.”