Britannia Row Productions recently installed an audio system at London’s Roundhouse to achieve the desired ‘thunderous bass’ for the conclusion of rock band Savages’ European tour.
Sound engineer Matthew Farrar has been mixing front of house since leaving his position as head of sound at Glyndebourne in 2004.
“I’d played the Roundhouse just once before; last time it was for the Mercury Awards with Savages (Album of the Year shortlist 2013), then we were in and out, one song, thank you very much,” said Farrar. “So for this show on March 17th that concluded our European tour at least I already knew it was a tricky room with some big low end that can rumble around.”
Having set himself the goal of investing his time and skills at the cutting edge of emerging talent, he has been associated with Jehnny Beth, singer songwriter for Savages, almost continually since then.
“This was the first time we’ve had any sort of a production deal for a tour and I must confess feeling initially a little daunted. We’d never even had a dedicated monitor engineer before,” he added. “Britannia Row Productions, who provided the desks and audio system for the tour, were very helpful in getting this together. On our prep day everything was clearly laid out and from that moment on it all worked perfectly.”
Farrar used Britrow’s installed L’Acoustics K2 system for the tour’s final gig at The Roundhouse, but it wasn’t always like that: “For the tour we used mainly in house PAs, but for the first time we were carrying our own desks and monitor system from Britrow. For me, the Soundcraft Vi4 was my desk of choice. Out of all of the digital desks it’s the one I’m most comfortable with and I like the sound: do a five-minute sound check, turn it up and it sounds good. Good pre-amp stage. I also like the way it’s laid out. With some other desks you can end up wasting too much time flicking pages and miss the important elements of the show. Having Britrow there at the Roundhouse was invaluable, they have a lot of experience of the venue and were able to explain ways to approach all the pitfalls.
“In preparation I decided to mix our opening act Bo Ningen. That gave me an opportunity to walk around the room and listen. Down the front I found the low frequencies could disappear, sucked up into that big rondel at the centre of the shed (a former smoke louvre, now glazed in). The only way to compensate was to turn the LF up at the desk and hope it worked OK elsewhere. It’s flying blind; what you want people in the room to hear is not what you’re hearing at the desk, so I was a little apprehensive.”
“After the show several people from the audience came up to me and said how good it sounded; one or two obviously went to the Roundhouse a lot more often than I did,” Farrar concluded. “That’s very reassuring. In the end there’s no substitute for that kind of experience and Britrow made me feel really well looked after. I have them to thank for a great experience.”