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SSL Live Bids Farewell to Corey Hart

“The depth of field was amazing; I was really impressed by the spaciousness of it”

MONTREAL Corey Hart hung up his sunglasses for good at an emotional sold-out farewell concert for 13,500 hometown fans at Montreal’s Bell Centre, supported by an SSL Live console at front of house. A 1980s phenom, Hart has had nine consecutive Top 40 hits, with “Sunglasses at Night” being his most recognizable. Outfitted with sound services by Solotech in Canada, it was another local Montreal hero, Denis Savage, who mixed the show and the week-long rehearsal.

For Hart’s Farewell concert, the band consisted of two guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, percussion, saxophone and backing vocals, plus a few guests. Since Hart hadn’t performed live in almost a decade, the group spent a week in rehearsals to guarantee he gave audiences the show of a lifetime. “I recorded the rehearsals in multi-track, so I had two Pro Tools® rigs,” explains Savage, a long-time SSL user who has been Celine Dion’s FOH and studio engineer for the past 28 years. “One was a virtual playback machine and the other was recording straight from the preamps on stage.”

The extra practice also provided Savage with plenty of time to familiarise himself with the new SSL Live console. He found the integration of multi-track playback of live performances a great help in quickly programming the console. “For me, the way they set up the virtual sound check so that you can monitor through your recorder all the time and then just play back the sound while you’re programming is great,” he adds. “The way it’s set up is really amazing and effortless. I recorded the entire rehearsal through Pro Tools so I could stop, play back and program quickly while the band was on break, which was a big thing for me.”

Savage was initially drawn to SSL Live’s large, centre touch screen. “You’d think you need to use the centre screen all the time, but then you realize there’s a smaller one with colour-coded rotary knobs around it, and that’s where everything is happening,” he explains. “I was really able to increase my production speed once I understood that while I do want to see things on the big screen, I should use the smaller one to go through my menu, EQs, auxiliaries and so on. Once I got the hang of the process, my output was super fast.”
By the end of rehearsals, Savage had learned the full capabilities of SSL Live’s Focus Channel area located on the right-hand side of the console. “The screen was very visual for me to see where things were and how things were set up, but I was using the encoders way more,” he explains. “Initially, it looks kind of complicated. In fact, when I first saw it I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be difficult just to set up.’ But, once I got my initial setup taken care of, I was able to better understand how things work. It flows nicely, and the depth of field was amazing. I couldn’t believe it. I was really impressed by the spaciousness of the console. It’s fun to work on and it sounds really good. I really like that console.”

Savage additionally notes that the classic SSL sonic signature combined with the modern control surface of the SSL Live console provide him with the perfect solution to get a great mix. “The sound of the SSL Live is very sweet; the lows are very deep and tight and I didn’t have to fight to blend and mix,” he says. “I also didn’t need to add too much EQ as the mix just falls into place quickly. When you mix on a good console, the little things add up to make a great sound. That’s exactly the feeling I got. Live is a fun console, too. Its compact size ensured that I wasn’t all over the place. It was like driving a sports car; I had access to everything quickly. I loved it.”

The Corey Hart Farewell Concert wasn’t the first time Savage got his hands on an SSL console. He also mixes on an SSL Duality at Studio Piccolo, his commercial studio in Montreal, and started using the SSL MT Plus console over a decade ago for Dion’s initial five-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Today, Savage notes that SSL’s first true live sound console is an even better live solution for him as it incorporates features that improve his previous workflow.

“I did 737 shows at the Colosseum on the MT Plus and I never had a crash in five years, never had a single problem, it was flawless,” he says “Since SSL’s design team is so great, they are always listening to their customers and modifying their solutions to fit our needs. Now, the SSL Live gives me several options that I didn’t have with the MT Plus. I can use channels however I want. I can unfold them, offset them and then refold them. Basically, everything that was added to SSL’s other consoles over the years has now been incorporated into the Live console.”

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