Plan B's engineer upgrades to a Soundcraft Vi6

John Delf, a former Vi1 user, switches to larger model for Ben Drew's current arena tour.
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Sound engineer John Delf has been getting to grips with a Soundcraft Vi6 console for the ongoing Plan B (Ben Drew) arena tour.

Supplied as part of a complete PA package by Dave Shepherd's BCS Audio, the UK arena shows have been split into two distinct sections, featuring Plan B’s 2010 album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, in track order, followed by the soundtrack for his London gangland film Ill Manors in the second.

The tour has been a challenge for Delf, system tech Dave ‘Boxx’ Cann and Shepherd, who has been on production management duty. The FOH engineer also has to use time code to sync to the screens, supplying click tracks and recording to multitrack from the Vi6’s optical MADI onto hard disc recorder.

“I have liked the Vi6 since the first time I used it,” Delf stated. “I know it’s a popular thing to say, but I am very impressed with the preamps. The Vi6 just gives a bit more crunch and edge, which suits this kind of gig more, particularly with the hip hop section. It has a real clarity to it.”

On the Vi6, engineers are given a complete visual reference of the show across the top page of the board, which has proved to be particularly useful on the Plan B show, which includes a ten-piece ensemble.

John is running 42 inputs on the tour. “You can spend your whole time mixing with the mouse, but because of the Vi6’s 32 faders your whole show is in front of you. I only turn to the second page once in a while,” he said.

Its unique FaderGlow feature has also impressed Delf, who added: “It is extremely useful; with everything in front of you it is possible to see what has EQ on it and what has compression. When you hit the graphic all the faders become EQ and change to red, so you know you are in graphic mode.”

John Delf started his career in the studio world, and still runs Edge Recording Studios in Cheshire. His first tour of duty many years ago was with Mark Burgess and the Chameleons, working with many big names along the way, including Lily Allen and The Script.

He landed the gig with Plan B after working with Eliza Doolittle, who supporting him at the O2. She was also asked to support American dates and John was asked to work with Plan B for a seven-day stint.

“But it turned into six weeks,” he recalled. “The first gig was at Coachella, and I was thrown right in at the deep end. Plan B is a perfectionist and wants everything to be right.

“He’s quite a dynamic singer but I was told to make sure his vocal was audible, with no feedback, because his in-ears are turned up really loud. It was a challenge.”

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