For The Smashing Pumpkins’ 2013 tour front of house engineer Jon Lemon opted for DiGiCo’s current flagship model, the SD7, supplied, along with the rest of the PA system, by audio rental company Eighth Day Sound.
“The Oceania album was different to anything we’d done before,” Lemon said. “There were quite a lot of sequences on it, with things like analogue synths in the backing tracks; we had around 10 backing tracks of Pro Tools and they wanted to play the whole album.
“For safety’s sake, I decided I was going to go with the SD7; that way I would have built in redundancy – I had to build many snapshots to make the album work with the video, so I needed to know I had backup. However, the big updates from both DiGiCo and the Waves V9 plugins means that everything is very stable anyway.
“I just use 56 channels, or rather 55 channels and keep one spare, which keeps us to one 192kHz SD Rack, with monitor engineer John Sherman having his own 192 rack for his SD10. I use a lot of the SD7’s internal effects, but there is one bit of outboard I still can’t get away from: which is a Manley Voxbox but I do use that in conjunction with a Waves Renaissance compressor mainly for fast compression.
“We archive every show and record it straight from the SD7 via the MADI split into our Pro Tools rig. The recording is used for the live album and for virtual sound check. We’ve been on the road for so long now that I don’t really need it for virtual sound check anymore, but when we were starting up of course I used it all the time.
“Having said that, there’s a 5.1 DVD coming out some time around September that we recorded at Jay-Z’s arena in Brooklyn.
“If we’re going to a festival, we let them know upfront we’re not going to give them analogue splits and that it will be a 48kHz or 96kHz MADI split. It works out better for everyone that way, because they have a basic mix from the FOH console to start with and the gains are all correct, so there’s no load on any of the microphones. That’s one of the real benefits of digital and having so much MADI I/O.
“I find that digital audio simplifies things in a big way and the benefit of having all the onboard plugins is huge; when you need stuff, it’s just there and you can transfer from mixing a show for the website, for radio, for TV, or a festival by just taking the settings from the plugins and having them on your DAW. That back and forth between console and Pro Tools really has made life pretty easy over the last year.”