Although past performances featured a full acoustic band, hip-hop/R&B artist CeeLo Green wanted to “pull it back” for his ‘Love Train’ tour, performing with just a sax and flute player, a percussionist and a DJ. However, the simplicity of CeeLo’s stage masked a complex production with music ranging from hip-hop to jazz and a sophisticated audio system using an Allen & Heath dLive S5000 mixer and DM48 MixRack.
FOH/monitors engineer Art Merriweather used wireless mics for CeeLo and all three backup vocalists and connected the sax player’s pedal board, the percussionist’s feeds and the DJ via direct inputs to the DM48 MixRack on stage. Merriweather mixed and grouped these sources into as many as 11 different feeds for the house sound system and on-stage monitors. CeeLo likes it cranked on stage. “This is hip-hop,” says Merriweather. “They want it loud so they can feel it. And, nobody on the tour likes in-ear monitors, so we’ve got powered wedges on the stage.” To minimise bleed caused by the high stage level Merriweather uses the dLive’s input-channel gates on the vocal mics and the sax player’s instrument mic.
CeeLo cups the mic in his hands on some songs changing its sound quality. Merriweather uses the dLive’s multi-band compressor to clean up the sound on these songs and says it automatically drops off when CeeLo moves his hands back down the mic. Merriweather reckons the dLive’s several vintage reverb emulators are “spot-on the best I’ve heard.”
Because he has “more mixes than sources”, Merriweather sets up the dLive with his outputs on the left-most faders and inputs on the centre faders. He uses a second layer to manage effects and another for EQ settings. He does a multi-track recording of every performance via the dLive’s Dante card to a Mac Mini and plays it back during setups using a dLive scene to do a ‘virtual sound check’. Merriweather says CeeLo’s show hits the dLive hard but it has ample dynamic range and its 96k sample rate makes it better sounding than other digital mixers he’s used in the past.
Merriweather, who has 12 years’ experience as a front-of-house and recording engineer, says this was his first experience with the dLive on tour but he wants to use it on other runs with different artists and says he’s looking forward to using the dLive’s wireless iPad control. “I love this desk,” he said, “and, whatever it can do, I’m doing it!”