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EV X-LINE ADVANCE FOR ZZ TOP TOUR

By

30 June 2016

ZZ_Top_Bemidji_01_s1_rs

“I remember walking in and thinking the system looked small for a sold-out arena show, but once I powered up and did our line check, I knew it was going to be a good day.”

The words of a happy FOH engineer.

Joe Keiser has been mixing FOH for ZZ Top for five years. The group’s 2016 tour season began in March, playing arenas and large theatres across North America. They decided to rent a PA at each venue, exposing Keiser to a wide variety of products. One that he reckons stood out was the Electro-Voice X2 line-array loudspeaker system — the high-performance member of the new EV X-Line Advance family.

The system, provided by NLFX Pro, consisted of twin 12-box line arrays of Electro-Voice X2/212-90 mains, augmented by a dozen Electro-Voice concert sound subwoofers. Six Electro-Voice EVU-2082 ultra-compact loudspeakers were spread across the stage lip as front fills.

ev x-line advance

“NLFX did a great job setting up the system,” notes Keiser. “I walked the room, and everything sounded smooth, both on the floor and up in the stands. The X2 system from Electro-Voice is really efficient and balanced, which makes it easy to get that thick, dirty sound that ZZ Top fans expect to hear.”

For a veteran group like ZZ Top, there is no sound check. “When people ask how the sound check went, I tell them they’ll get to hear it during the first song,” Keiser says with a chuckle. “We do a line check, listen to the room, and tune the system. Then Jake Mann, the monitor engineer, stands at Billy Gibbons’ mic and talks softly into it. Billy is a very soft singer, and I can tell right away whether I’m going to have a comfortable night. With the X2 system, I didn’t struggle to get Billy’s voice out front. It laid in the mix quite well, which made it very easy to keep it on top without a ton of processing and equalisation.”

Gibbons doesn’t wear in-ear monitors and prefers hearing the main house mix. “I send my house mix back down the snake to Jake, who feeds it to the stage monitor wedges if Billy needs it. But he prefers to actually hear the room, so it’s important to have a natural sound. In Bemidji, I remember going on stage to listen, speaking into Billy’s mic and saying, ‘Hey, this sounds pretty sweet! It’s going to be a good night.’ So even though I’m the front of house engineer, I’m actually mixing for Billy as well.”

This was not the first time Keiser and ZZ Top have encountered the X-Line Advance from Electro-Voice in their travels. “Last summer, we played the Bluetone Festival in Straubing, Germany,” recalls Keiser. “It was at the bottom of a hill near the Danube River, and the result was the same: a big, thick mix with very little equalisation or processing. That gig was just like the one we did in Bemidji — an easy day for me, and a good day for the band and their fans. As it should be.”

More info:
Electro-Voice: www.electrovoice.com
Australian Distributor: www.boschcommunications.com.au

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READ ONLINE NOW
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Issue 93

REVIEWED

Ableton Live 12
What’s in. What’s out. What to expect.