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King Crimson tours with Midas XL8

Prog-rock innovator Robert Fripp and his band King Crimson recently completed a short string of select American dates—their first since 2003—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: “The 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.

“Though the XL8 is a formidable piece of technology with immense capabilities,� Ian adds, “using it is as straightforward as with a Heritage—you can walk up to it and be ready for a show in five minutes. For this particular tour, I put the XL8’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 ‘Y’ 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 mixes—16 stereo, five mono—for wedges, in-ears, etc.

“The POP(ulation) and VCA (Variable Control Association) groups are perhaps the features that set the XL8 apart the most,� Ian continues, “Unlike 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 you’ve only got two hands! These features are exceptionally different, and were worth waiting for.�

As the PA’s changed from show to show, having Midas sound quality on-hand was a big help in terms of consistency, as Ian explains: “The EQs are amazing—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 o’clock and the adjustment appears in front of you at ten o’clock from mix position. This was especially helpful when mixing the two drummers, Gavin Harrison & Pat Mastelotto—the separation and definition was exceptional.�

The Klark Teknik DN9696 hard disk recorder’s superb audio quality is also matched by a user-friendly feature set: “In addition to 96/24 recording for archiving the shows, the DN9696 was a really useful tool for the band to play back and check arrangements—again, especially for the drummers—during rehearsals, and for me to fine tune gates, comps, and effects, all at the touch of a button.�

In closing, Ian summed up what is perhaps the most valuable aspect of the XL8: “The Midas sound is alive and well in these mic preamps and EQs—they helped the band—and every PA we they played through—sound their best.�

Photo: L-R: Gavin Harrison, Tony Levin, Ian Bond, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Pat Mastelotto


Click here for more photos.