The Analogues go digital with SSL Live
Thursday, 31 August 2017
ssltheanaloguesfohprThe SSL Live at front of house at the Amsterdam Ziggo Dome
The Netherlands - The Analogues is an extraordinary band with an ambitious mission. The aim is to recreate, live, the last six studio albums of The Beatles using the same instruments, amplifiers, and arrangements, complete with live strings and horns.
The band has tracked down and restored period instruments from all over the world, such as a rare Lowrey Heritage Deluxe Organ, as used on the introduction to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. To date, the band has conquered Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, and will start touring The White Album from January 2018.
Remko Luijten, Front of House Engineer for The Analogues, has been working with the band for two years already, and Ger Arts, monitor engineer, has recently joined the tour. Because of the extreme demands of this project, both engineers have selected SSL Live L500 consoles as their tools of choice, supplied to the tour by the Dutch rental company Peak Audio.
Solid State Logic spoke to both Luijten and Arts shortly after a tour highlight - the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper with a sold-out show at the 17,000-seat Amsterdam Ziggo Dome.
The Analogues’ attention to detail, extensive instrument collection, and additional ensemble members, mean that the input count for any show is high. 'Normal' shows use four 32-input SSL SuperAnalogueTM Stageracks, while the Ziggodome special added another rack to accommodate guests and additional ensemble. 'Normally we have around 100 to 110 inputs," says Luijten. "There are a lot of vocal positions for each musician, a lot of instruments that are only used for one song, and of course we have an orchestra and the percussionist."
To manage such an undertaking with a 'vintage' console, would be unthinkable: Luijten: "If you really wanted to stay true to the original you'd obviously need an analogue desk, but you'd need a desk at least five meters wide for the inputs we'd need to accommodate! Besides that, every song is so different from the previous one that you have to do some automation on effects and on EQ. There's no way it could be done on an analogue console... though sound-wise, this desk comes as close as you can get."
Luijten uses very little outboard - just an analogue tube EQ and compressor in one of the master inserts. He uses a Waves server for a few specific effects, but everything else relies on the SSL standard path processing and internal FX rack. "For every vocal I have a four-band dynamic EQ... Those old mics are really sensitive to the proximity effect, so the SSL dynamic EQ kicks in when needed and does a great job.
"One of the main effects I use is the SSL Tape Delay of course. I have it set up on a macro key so I can bring it up on screen with one button press and easily edit it."
According to Luijten, a prime factor in deciding to use SSL Live on tour was 'feel': "I ask, what feeling to do get when you're behind the console? Does it do what you expect? Can you find stuff easily? The learning curve on this console is not steep."
For Ger Arts at monitors, the sheer power and flexibility of SSL Live is a boon. For a regular show he creates 24 separate stereo in-ear mixes. The five main band members have completely independent mixes created from the original discrete inputs, while the ensemble members' mixes are derived from Stem groups, plus each player's own channel.
Possibly the biggest compliment came at the end of the Ziggodome event, when Engineer Geoff Emmerick - who famously worked on a number of The Beatles' studio albums - came to the FOH position and thanked Luijten for a great show. "I think I did pretty good!" laughs Luijten.
(Jim Evans)

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