DiGiCo in the mix for Billy Joel in Manhattan
Tuesday, 15 November 2022
billy-joelBilly Joel plays Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden
USA - Brian Ruggles has been mixing Billy Joel’s live shows ever since the singer-songwriter came on the scene in 1971 with his Cold Spring Harbor LP. Now, more than half a century later, he continues to collaborate with the artist, including mixing Joel’s multi-year, record-breaking, one-show-a-month residency at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden.
The last eight years of that partnership have found Ruggles mixing the Piano Man’s shows on a DiGiCo SD5 console. The SD5 meets Ruggles’ needs for a console that can offer him the kind of warm sound that he grew up with using analogue desks throughout most of Joel’s lengthy career and on tours with artists like Stevie Nicks, Heart, and John Mellencamp. Meanwhile, Josh Weibel, Joel’s monitor engineer, finds that his DiGiCo SD10 console gives him the flexibility he needs to manage the changing lineup of the residency shows and fly dates.
“I’m an old-school guy; I love the way analogue sounds,” says Ruggles. “But there came a point where I knew I had to move to digital.” That was over eight years ago, and Ruggles experimented with a few different kinds of digital desks. But once he encountered the SD5, he knew it was the one.
“The SD5 sounds incredible; it really has the kind of warm sound that I’ve loved my entire career,” he says. “But what really sold me was how user-friendly the SD5 is. The few other digital consoles I tried were not at all easy to navigate. The SD5, on the other hand, allowed me to dive right in and make it work for me.”
Josh Weibel has been mixing monitors for Billy Joel for more than nine years, most of them on a DiGiCo SD10, though he’s moved around inside the extensive SD-Range, including working on the SD5 and SD7, the latter of which he used on monitors for Paul Simon on tour.
“For Billy, we upgraded the consoles to 96 kHz racks a couple of years ago, and we heard an immediate and very noticeable difference in the sound quality, which had been great,” says Weibel.
“The console lets me lay it out in the ways I want which is also a huge help when we have guest artists onstage at the Madison Square Garden shows. Sometimes we don’t know if there’s going to be a guest until soundcheck, but the SD10 lets me easily set up additional input and output strips as needed and create a mix for them.”

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