Colorado Springs, CO (September 28, 2022)—The Pandemic may have halted touring for most acts, but OneRepublic was away from its fans for a lot longer—five years—having last made the rounds in 2018. Making up for lost time, the pop group has been playing one-offs here and there, but hit the road hard this summer, more than 40 arenas, theaters, amphitheaters and pavilions between early July and mid-September. Helping provide consistent sound throughout that run was a passel of gear from Nashville’s Spectrum Sound, as well as FOH engineer Justin Ripley and monitor engineer Dave McMullin.
The two engineers plied their trade on a pair of DiGiCo Quantum7 consoles provided as part of the control and PA packages for the tour. “We’ve been out for most of this year, including seven weeks in Europe during April and May, but we’ve always had a good number of one-offs in between,” says McMullin, who has been with OneRepublic for the past six years. “We have a lot of creative itinerary routing, with many side shows scheduled in the midst of ‘normal’ touring, so Spectrum has provided us with multiple control packages that allow us to send different rigs as needed. In my time with the band, we’ve only really had two proper touring seasons, with the rest of the time being filled with many small runs and one-offs, often still doing 60 to 70 shows per year. Having two rigs ready to go at all times allows us to be flexible and make the potentially challenging scheduling work.”
During non-tour times, the group’s A and B control rig are identical, both consisting of a Quantum338 at FOH and monitors, one SD-Rack with 32-bit input and output cards and AES cards, one SD-MiNi Rack, and one Orange box with Optocore and DMI-MADI cards for integrating with playback. With the need to scale up input counts for this summer’s tour, however, the A package consisted of a Quantum7 at FOH and monitors, two SD-Racks with 32-bit input and output cards and AES output cards, and two Orange Boxes, both with Optocore and MADI Cards—one each for integration with playback and video.
FOH engineer Ripley’s working history with the band goes back to 2019: “OneRepublic’s records typically have a big, beautiful bed of band, and then Ryan [Tedder] and his vocal production is featured on top. Depending on the environment we’re in, my ultimate goal is full intelligibility for Ryan’s vocal to the audience, but not at the expense of the band. I incorporate lots of modern tricks to make sure it’s not a ‘star-vocal-only’ show. The band is super important live in my view.”
Ripley walks through his process to accomplish that on his Quantum7 at front of house: “I’m going from channels into groups, then into more groups, and then matrixes, which nowadays is pretty normal at this level of touring, but I still think it’s the secret to getting a good mix live. I like to say that all of the audio has to touch each other. The instruments can’t all meet up on the master fader competing for attention equally. Like-minded things—such as Moog, bass guitars, VSTs, and sub drops—have to live together, like in a Bass Buss.
“I have fun assigning different things to different groups, too. For example, we have sound effects in some tracks and I put those in the Cymbal Buss because it’s kind of what they do. They’re impact moments, like risers and explosions and fade outs, that are similar to hitting a crash on the kick. And instead of doing a bunch of analytical EQ on that buss, I put all that through a tape machine, which saturates out and blurs and squares some of the harsher high-frequency stuff. When a sound effect is competing with Eddie’s [Fisher] crash, the processing does the math for me. It all becomes one sound blended and that process is repeated over and over in the console in dozens of applications.”
With the North American tour freshly wrapped up, the group will soon be heading back to Europe as well as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and South Africa in the fall. Touring will later pick back up in the spring of 2023, hitting Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.