Having sold more than 25 million studio albums and over 100 million singles globally, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Armando Christian Pérez—best known as Pitbull—truly earned his other stage name, Mr. Worldwide. As a relentless entertainer, that moniker is equally appropriate when it comes to the Miami native’s global touring schedule, which keeps the pop/rap artist’s calendar ultra-packed with performances, such as his latest 52-show Can’t Stop Us Now tour of North America. To ensure that Pitbull’s backing band, The Agents, are hearing themselves and each other in the most natural and beneficial way, monitor engineer Matt Holden recently added a DMI–KLANG card to his staple DiGiCo Quantum5 console.
Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Holden has served as Team Pitbull’s dedicated monitor engineer for the past eight years. However, Can’t Stop Us Now marked his very first opportunity to literally plug KLANG’s immersive platform into the monitoring setup, utilizing the DMI–KLANG to supply six immersive band mixes—drums, percussion, bass, guitar, keys, and DJ—two guest mixes, one tech mix, and one playback engineer mix.
“The way I went about introducing KLANG to everyone was pretty simple,” he says. “I spent a lot of time building a great sounding mix on my guest mixes during the first week of tour rehearsals, which was a good way to understand how it all works and play with different positions. From there, I just started tweaking it for the drummer’s mix, and when I felt confident enough, I copied it over to his mix, and it only took about five minutes to get him set. Then I just worked my way through each band member. After spending a week playing around with everything, I put them all on KLANG mixes in a single day.”
Enthusing that The Agents are “a fantastic band to work with,” Holden says: “They’re all very knowledgeable about the studio and able to tell me exactly what they’re looking for. They like to hear pretty much everything, so I immediately knew the space created by KLANG would give them room for it all. With 15 channels of drums and 13 channels of percussion alone, I was able to nicely spread everything around with drums in the front of the mix as you would visually see them. Percussion was around the back side of the mix, which I inverted for the percussion player. I tended to place low-end instruments—kick ‘out,’ bass, bass synth, and 808s—fairly low behind me, but the kick ‘in’ would be in front at chest height. It really made a connection with the low end that I wasn’t able to achieve before. After that, it was also very easy to simply spread around the keys and guitar in the ears.”
The engineer also had the show’s tracks running through KLANG, though the consensus was to keep them in the traditional stereo space. “I was definitely able to lower the click track quite dramatically, though,” he adds. “I used our DPA 5100 5.1 mic setup at the FOH position along with two Shure Beta 57 on stage left and right for audience mics, which helped me create a huge sounding crowd and really put the band back in touch with the audience.”
Holden points out that his preference is to control the KLANG system via its native integration within the Quantum5’s worksurface, rather than via KLANG:app on an external screen. “I really like the app for the visual aspect of seeing where everything is placed overall in the mix, but I try to spend most of my time focusing on the actual console,” he describes. “I’ve long felt that the DiGiCo platform essentially works the same way that my brain does—it’s always been very intuitive. And with basically no latency, the addition of the KLANG control in the desk is seamless and feels completely natural to me. In fact, KLANG and DiGiCo work together so well that I don’t even consider them two different pieces of gear.”
But the ultimate barometer of the KLANG system’s success can be measured by the “sheer look of enjoyment on the band’s faces every night,” he says. “With the DMI–KLANG, they are always really enjoying the moment and not having to think about technical issues. I had more than half of the shows on the last tour go on without a single request the whole night. And when we had the first one-off show post-tour without KLANG, the look on my drummer’s face said it all. He said his mix felt so small, and he’s right. When going from a non-KLANG mix to a KLANG mix, I can best describe it as my head feels like it can ‘breathe.’”
When an artist and band tour as much as Pitbull, that ‘breathing’ is a breath of fresh air. “Pitbull used to average between 130 and 150 days out a year, but in 2022, we did 210 days out, which is intense! With so many shows, it’s more important than ever to carry a system like KLANG, which is much more relaxing to listen to and greatly reduces ear fatigue. When given a choice, a Quantum5 loaded with a DMI–KLANG card will always be my go-to.”
For details on Pitbull’s upcoming touring itinerary, visit www.pitbullmusic.com.