The Dixie Chicks hit the road again this summer in support of their seventh album, Taking the Long Way. Because of the complex audio requirements for the tour, Dixie Chicks front-of-house engineer Fern Alvarez went with Digidesign’s VENUE live sound environment for all his mixing needs. Working closely with Digidesign product specialists Steve McCale and Jeff Priepot, Alvarez configured a multiple-VENUE rig with one system at FOH and two systems for monitoring (each VENUE system comprises one main console and two sidecars).
Dixie Chick monitor engineer Bill Chrysler (left) and FOH engineer Fern Alvarado
Alvarez chose VENUE after using the console on a brief run with Lisa Marie Presley in 2005. “With the onboard features, versatility of the plug-ins and the quick access to all parameters on the surface, I knew VENUE was the solution for the complete package with the Dixie Chicks,” he says.
Another important consideration for Alvarez was the console’s physical size. “Real estate is not even an issue with VENUE,” he says. “Everything you need is onboard, so there’s not a lot of extraneous gear to carry. And with VENUE’s small footprint, it takes up almost 75-percent less space than other FOH consoles I’ve used on past tours.”
In addition to VENUE, the band has incorporated two Digidesign Pro Tools HD rigs—one stationed at FOH and the other at monitor position—each capable of recording and playing back their 92 respective inputs. Because of the extensive demands of the Dixie Chicks concerts, Alvarez says he’s able to stay “ahead of the game” by using the FOH rig for virtual soundchecking and, more importantly, for HD multitrack archival of the show. “VENUE has made mixing easy and enjoyable all over again. I can’t imagine using anything else.”