Florence and the Machine recently enjoyed a three-night run at London’s Alexandra Palace, with a Midas PRO2 system and XL8 taking care of monitors and FOX mixing respectively.
The band was joined onstage by a 12-piece choir and 12-piece string section, which ultimately provided a challenging task with regards to monitor and FOH mixing.
Engineer Mike Gibbard used the PRO2 to provide monitor mixes for the choir and string section, and to send stem feeds to the band’s monitor and FOH desks.
“The PRO2’s a natural choice for this really,” said Gibbard. “I take a band mix from the monitor desk, a dry vocal mix of Florence and a click, which I then send to the choir and string section. I have nine hardwired mixes for the choir, and I’ve broken up the string section into cello mix, violin mix and viola mix and we’re using Britannia Row’s customised headphone system to distribute that to each of them.
“I send left and right stem feeds to the band monitor desk and FOH. It frees up those engineers from having to deal with the choir and string section, as it’s a lot of extra inputs to have to deal with.
“I love the PRO2 – MIDAS digital is the way forward,” summed up Gibbard. “You put a microphone into it, turn the gain up, high pass it and it sounds great straight out of the box; you don’t have to work hard at creating the sound.”
Ian Laughton, who mixed Florence’s previous gigs on a PRO6, added: “We’ve got the budget now to use good old MIDAS everywhere in the world. I’d got so used to the PRO6, so it was amazing to be back on the XL8 and have even more room. Josh Lloyd from Britannia Row, who is more than my right hand man, has Area B to himself, which means he can get into any channel he wants while I’m mixing at the other end. It’s especially good as we have two drum kits, so while the two drummers are playing together, which is a massive thing, I can be mixing that while Josh is taking care of Florence’s vocal.”
Every show is being recorded from the XL8 onto the Klark Teknik DN9696 high definition audio recorder. “It’s just eight cables in and out, and it all comes back through the desk, so you can do a virtual sound check,” said Laughton. “This way of working is becoming a must when using a digital desk. The recorded sound is great; we played it back to the band at rehearsals and it gave them so much more confidence to hear what they sounded like, playing live.”