Prog-rock innovator Robert Fripp and his band King Crimson recently completed a short string of select American datesâ€”their first since 2003â€”their reputation for impeccable live audio quality reinforced by a Midas XL8 console at FOH, manned by Ian Bond. In addition, a Klark Teknik DN9696 hard disk recorder was used to record the shows.
Ian Bond, a longtime Midas user, explained how the XL8/DN9696 combination provided a unique solution for this much anticipated ten-date tour: â€œThe XL8/DN9696 package was ideal for three good reasons: the tour used house/hired-in systems, the band required a lot of detailed monitor mixes, and the shows were recorded. Since I handled all three as the sole engineer on the tour, I needed the best-sounding, most versatile system available for mixing and recording.
â€œThough the XL8 is a formidable piece of technology with immense capabilities,â€? Ian adds, â€œusing it is as straightforward as with a Heritageâ€”you can walk up to it and be ready for a show in five minutes. For this particular tour, I put the XL8â€™s digital flexibility to task, running it for FOH, monitors, and recording. It only took about an hour to set it up in rehearsals. I ran an internal â€˜Yâ€™ split, essentially making channel 1 and channel 49 the same. 1 to 48 was the FOH desk; 49 to 96 was the monitor desk. This meant I could give the band separate EQs and Dynamics as necessary, which we then routed through to 21 separate monitor mixesâ€”16 stereo, five monoâ€”for wedges, in-ears, etc.
â€œThe POP(ulation) and VCA (Variable Control Association) groups are perhaps the features that set the XL8 apart the most,â€? Ian continues, â€œUnlike any other digital desk, where you have to dig around to find your channel, you can pre-assign all your inputs and effects into a group, push a button and it comes to you. The channel to your left, for example, becomes whatever you want it to be with the VCA; at the push of a button, channel 96 comes to me, right next to my effects, which helps when youâ€™ve only got two hands! These features are exceptionally different, and were worth waiting for.â€?
As the PAâ€™s changed from show to show, having Midas sound quality on-hand was a big help in terms of consistency, as Ian explains: â€œThe EQs are amazingâ€”it was just like using an XL4, only better! EQ-wise, I found XL8 to be even more precise, in terms of placement and panning; you turn a knob to ten oâ€™clock and the adjustment appears in front of you at ten oâ€™clock from mix position. This was especially helpful when mixing the two drummers, Gavin Harrison & Pat Mastelottoâ€”the separation and definition was exceptional.â€?
The Klark Teknik DN9696 hard disk recorderâ€™s superb audio quality is also matched by a user-friendly feature set: â€œIn addition to 96/24 recording for archiving the shows, the DN9696 was a really useful tool for the band to play back and check arrangementsâ€”again, especially for the drummersâ€”during rehearsals, and for me to fine tune gates, comps, and effects, all at the touch of a button.â€?
In closing, Ian summed up what is perhaps the most valuable aspect of the XL8: â€œThe Midas sound is alive and well in these mic preamps and EQsâ€”they helped the bandâ€”and every PA we they played throughâ€”sound their best.â€?
Photo: L-R: Gavin Harrison, Tony Levin, Ian Bond, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Pat Mastelotto
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