A Digico SD7 was the front-of-house console of choice for Iron Maiden's latest world tour.
Two-year long touring marathons might be a thing of the past for the band, but the heavy metallers still manage to hit the road every year, visiting countries all over the world.
FOH engineer Martin Walker has worked with some of the biggest rock bands around, such as Judas Priest, Slash and Whitesnake. He started working with Maiden last year, bringing his favourite desk, the SD7, with him.
“I really like Digico consoles and was using an SD8 with Judas Priest,” he said. “The first time I was involved with the SD7 was when I sat with Lars Brogaard on the first Rod Stewart residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. I moved up to one with Judas Priest two years ago and I haven’t looked back.”
Iron Maiden generate around 40 inputs, as well as a dozen more from various outboard units and playback at FOH. Outputs comprise main left and right, with subs on an aux and vocal fills. Walker also does a multi-track recording of most gigs on to Pro Tools, with a JoeCo system as backup.
“I have nothing but good results from the SD7. Sonically it's in a league of its own, it sounds natural, warm and has a rock ’n’ roll edge without you having to overdrive, over EQ or over anything,” Walker explained.
“I love the onboard multiband compressor – it’s an absolute necessity with Bruce’s voice – but one of the most important features for me is the video screen. There is a camera dedicated to following Bruce [Dickinson, Iron Maiden frontman] throughout the show and I have a feed from it, which I literally watch all night. It shows me where he is on stage, so I can mute his mic when necessary, it also shows me how he is handling the mic and I can see from his performance how much input I am getting. It can vary a lot, so a smooth vocal mix would be impossible without being able to keep a constant watch on him. It remains a big challenge, but the close up video eases the task.
“I treat the desk in a very old school way. Everything is mixed on the fly apart from using snapshots for MIDI-triggering outboard and to recall notes. I have a few notes that remind me of input peculiarities for particular songs and which guitarist does what lead line or solo and when. At my age the old memory is not as good as it once was, so any help in that direction is a positive plus.”
The two shows at The O2 in London were perhaps the highlights of the Maiden England tour, which moved on to the USA and South America, where it finished off in Santiago, Chile.
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