On Madonna’s recent Confessions world tour, a Focusrite Liquid Channel channel strip helped capture the singer’s vocal thanks to programmer, engineer and vocal tech Sean Spuehler.
“I worked with Madonna in the studio on some of her past albums,” Spuehler explains. “She likes her in-ear vocals to sound like the album as much as possible, so it just made sense for someone like myself to mix her vocal sound and effects live. I started doing live gigs with her on the American Life promotional tour … and ended up doing The Re-Invention world tour in 2004. The latest Confessions world tour is an extension of that. It is great to be able to shake things up and get out of the studio for a little bit and experience the excitement of a live gig.”
Spuehler uses a compact but high-tech setup while on tour. “I have been using the Focusrite Liquid Channel, Apple Logic 7 with an Apple G5 and a Digico D5 console on tour,” he says. “I also use the Focusrite ISA 430 Producer Pack quite often.”
The Liquid Channel proved invaluable as a front end for the Madonna vocal. In this case, Spuehler used the Focusrite unit to ensure a consistent sound throughout the tour. “After finding the right setting for Madonna’ s live vocal, the Liquid Channel proved unbelievably reliable,” he says. “We never had to worry when going from city to city, as it always just worked. In the studio, its versatility is what makes it so useful. It’ s perfect for getting the right warmth and tone for different singers.
“In the past, we were fixed to whatever preamp we had,” he continues. “We wanted to use the Liquid Channel on tour because being able to try different settings is what interested us the most. I was a little afraid of a delay, but that was never a problem. We found a nice setting and just left it alone after that.”
Spuehler is currently working on a few album projects, one with Steve Sidelnyk, Madonna’ s drummer on her last three tours, and also writing music for movies and commercials.