New York, NY (October 25, 2022)—The Red Hot Chili Peppers have always been ones to change things up, and their current Global Stadium Tour (A.K.A. The Unlimited Love Tour) is solid proof. The erstwhile alt-rockers are making the rounds behind not one but two albums released this year—Unlimited Love, released in April, and Return of the Dream Canteen, which came out earlier this month. Along for the ride is FOH engineer Toby Francis and the band’s new audio provider, Clair Global’s Eighth Day Sound.
Francis became the point person for what the audio dynamic for the tour would become. He explained, “After the band changed guitar players, which changed the dynamic within the band, and a prolonged process with management changing as well, it became a four-year process to satisfy band requirements. The four band members have very dynamic personalities on stage and are adamant about [both] what their show involves and wanting the best sound possible, so discussions took place prior to rehearsals.
One of the band members was adamant about analog, so Francis is mixing on a Yamaha PM5000 analog console. “Features on today’s digital consoles give you features that were never available on analog consoles: endless amount as busses…automated everything,” he said. Using an analog board, he has added nine parametric EQs and a summing mixer to sum the band together.
“Approaching it that way with a ridiculous amount of outboard gear,” Francis explained, “the show is right in your face. Transients are so much faster on an analog console. And, mixing analog again with a truly modern P.A., you can hear everything subtly; it’s crazy how good it sounds. The band has a vast list of songs they draw from—four songs every night and 14-15 songs that are different night to night. I’m hearing detail I never thought I would hear in a 60,000-seat stadium. I’m absolutely blown away by the sound and coverage of the d&b loudspeaker systems.”
The d&b audiotechnik GSL and KSL system in question is centered around 20 GSL8s per side for Mains, and 16+4 (GSL8/12) for side fills. Then there’s 30 SL-SUBs, both flown and on the ground as a horizontal subwoofer array, supported by 10 Y10P point sources for front fills. Delays are in four different positions with a dozen KSL8s each position. The system is all powered by 82 D80 amplifiers. All system alignment and optimization is done within the D80 amps using d&b R1 Remote software, and all system design and prediction is accomplished using d&b ArrayCalc software.
Francis noted, “What [the band] hear and feel from the d&b GSL and KSL loudspeaker P.A. on stage, and how clean it is, drove everyone’s attention. They are thrilled at how it sounds: the coverage, and everything else about it. Making the band truly happy is the goal. They used a separate manufacturer’s P.A. for one show, and it was a struggle. The band is a Clair Global corporate account, and they require global support from one company using the same systems, so Eighth Day Sound is supporting the tour globally.”
Getting that system in top shape every day is system engineer Ville Kauhanen. “I have used ArrayProcesing in stadiums and other P.A. configurations with delay systems since it was introduced in summer of 2015,” said Kauhanen. “For me personally, the uniformity of the coverage area and day-to-day consistency are key elements for my work and this software really helps me achieve these parameters. On this tour the venues have been very different, and the only common denominator has been the large audience capacity. ArrayProcessing and especially with the SL-Series takes the control of the coverage and uniformity of tonality within the wanted coverage to a whole new level. It is also a very important tool for me when I need to combine systems like main P.A. to delays to properly control the overlap areas in x-axis.”
Prior to the stadium tour, Francis’ main experience with d&b systems was based around older J-Series boxes, so heading out with GSL and KSL loudspeakers was an eye opener. “Not having mixed on the two systems but having used the J-Series at festival shows, I was shocked at how clear the GSL and KSL sounded,” said Francis. “All of our shows are stadiums: baseball football, and soccer with occasional open field performances. We use delays on all shows, so the ArrayProcessing really made the difference [so it was] less difficult to cover every seat in the house. I’m now a true believer in this P.A. system. Ville Kauhanen is incredibly good at what he does…. the sound is consistent everywhere from ArrayProcessing, even where sound places are difficult.”