Paul Hatt, monitor engineer for Clean Bandit, has spoken about his reliance on Soundcraft's Vi3000 digital live sound console during live performances.
The electronic group have come a long way in the past five years – their 2010 debut single Mozart's House reached Number 17 on the UK chart, but last year saw them soar to take the Number One spot with Rather Be, which also hit the Top Ten in the US and helped them to a 2015 Grammy for Best Dance Recording.
“Clean Bandit perform with a mixture of electronic and live drums, live strings and vocals, which makes getting a good mix a lot more challenging than with other acts I’ve worked with,” commented Hatt. “There’s a lot of movement on stage with different vocalists each singing lead on different songs, then switching back to background vocals. I have to blend live and electronic drums and the live cello and violin with the strings on the backing tracks.
"There are a lot of keyboard channels and sequencers, which are important signature sounds on each song. Staying on top of who’s playing what and making sure what they hear what they need to play and sing in tune and in time is quite a juggling act.”
Hatt configures the Vi3000 largely in stereo AUX/monitor mode using 48 local inputs. The console is connected via Cat5e to a Soundcraft Compact Stagebox, loaded with 24 additional line outs that feed the band’s in-ear monitor (IEM) rack. Clean Bandit use 12 stereo IEM systems and some hard-wired mics, which covers everyone in the band, the playback and backline technicians, plus a spare and guest mix. There are no wedges on stage, but on larger stages Hatt might add side fill speakers.
The Soundcraft Realtime Rack, a hardware/software unit designed in collaboration with plug-in manufacturer Universal Audio that provides access to 74 industry-standard UAD plug-ins is also part of Hatt's arsenal, and is connected via the Vi3000’s onboard MADI interface.
Hatt had been a Soundcraft user for years before taking the Vi3000 on tour with Clean Bandit. “Soundcraft has been my console platform of choice and the one I feel most comfortable with, so along comes the Vi3000 and of course I had to try it. “With the Vi3000 I can get a compact console in the back of the trailer with all the band’s gear, but with all the I/O and processing I need for the job.”
“It really is a brilliant choice for monitor mixing – 24 stereo AUXs in such a compact package is a thing of joy.” Hatt had used other consoles and found them too limiting. “I’d always have to compromise somewhere with the large number of IEMs the band uses. Not anymore – you can just keep adding more stereo mixes with the Vi3000 and everyone is covered properly.”
Having been a fan of the brand for some time, the engineer also appreciates that the Vi3000 feels immediately familiar. “It’s the same user interface you know and love, so you’re instantly familiar with the operation, but there are some added enhancements which make the desk feel a bit more up to date.”