Happy Mondays' latest UK tour in recognition of 25 years since their second album, Bummed, saw the band's classic Manchester line-up performing the album's entire track listing as well as some of their greatest hits.
With space and time limited at each venue, front of house engineer Gerry Parchment and monitor engineer Jasen Hattams both chose Avid S3L systems supplied by SSE Audio Group.
“Initially there was to be no control package at either end of the multicore, as we were in splitters and space was tight” recalls Parchment. “This left both Jay and myself with a myriad of in-house analogue and digital desks at the venues. [With Avid S3L] we could achieve a consistent sound and be ready to soundcheck the band in 30 minutes from the time the equipment got onto the stage,” Parchment continues. “We would not have been able to achieve this with any other system.”
“My Production Manager loves the footprint,” states Hattams. “It's compact, and the less space we take up, the more seats are sold out front—that makes the band and promoter very happy. And I love a lampie carrying my desk!”
The S3L was chosen not only for its compact footprint, but also for its functionality including the DX-powered processing engine running on-board AAX plug-ins, and the networked remote stage boxes for up to 64 inputs.
“[Avid] Profile has become the staple choice for many engineers,” Parchment explains. “[For the ‘Mondays tour] I initially took an old show file from a Profile system and modified it [on the S3L] as the tour went on.”
“We had a great show that [first] night” says Hattams. “The band were happy with the sound, so job done. On monitors I had 28 inputs, with 24 outputs doing a mixture of wedges and IEMs. There were 10 wedge mixes and four stereo IEMS. I have found the system easy to use, and most of all, it’s stable.”
A key feature of the Avid system is Virtual Soundcheck, which allows engineers to fine-tune mixes based on previous live recordings. With the combination of Pro Tools and Virtual Soundcheck, it's possible to EQ the room, set up snapshots, and more—all without requiring the presence of the band.
“The single most impressive aspect of Virtual Soundcheck is its ease of use,” says Parchment. “That and the fact that a single channel may be switched between a return or live input. The ‘Mondays were present at sound check every day, but I used [Virtual Soundcheck] for setting individual items such as dynamics and effects,” he continues.
Seamless integration with Pro Tools also enabled Parchment to easily record the band’s performances—up to 64 channels over a single Cat5e cable. And S3L’s VENUE Link makes it easy to control live mixing and recording/playback setups as one from the console, with track names, snapshots, and much more automatically populated from the VENUE show file.
“I recorded most of the Bummed album tour for archive and the intention is to mix certain shows for future use,” he explains. “Recording [to Pro Tools] via a single Ethernet cable is heaven-sent!”