FOH engineer Wayne ‘Rabbit' Sargeant, ran the show using an SSL Live.L500 console
UK - Creamfields 2014 featured multiple stages catering to crowds of EDM fans, which exceeded 60,000 daily. Swedish DJ, remix artist and producer Avicii headlined the South Stage at the peak of Creamfields 2014, while his FOH engineer, Wayne 'Rabbit' Sargeant, ran the show using an SSL Live.L500 console. The main North and South Stages both featured large-scale PA systems, supplied by Britannia Row Productions, Ltd., with SSL Live consoles at front of house that kept fans raving for the three-day-long end-of-summer party.

"Avicii has a simple setup, with Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS players feeding a DJM-900NXS DJ mixer," explains Sargeant. "Unlike other engineers, I'd rather keep everything in the digital domain and avoid doing unnecessary A/D and D/A conversions, so I use the SPDIF digital output of the DJM and convert it to the AES digital format (which is accepted by most PA systems). The XLR analog outputs on the mixer have limited headroom so when a DJ hits them hard the outputs will distort.

"Using an SSL Live digital stagebox employed with the console gave me the exact capability that I needed, with an AES digital input to accept the mixer's output at the stage. Patching the digital signal into the L500 gave me plenty of headroom on the output of the mixer and a cleaner signal path. I've found that in large venues where the bottom end is hard to control I'll get a much tighter bottom at a 96 kHz sample rate, which of course is what I get with the SSL Live."

Since Avicii does not have a set list and is always performing off the cuff, Sargeant describes his FOH duties akin to on-the-fly, live mastering. "Obviously, there's a big industry for mastering and what I am really doing during the show is tuning the system and mastering the tracks that Avicii is sending to me," he explains. "I used the L500 onboard multiband compression and dynamic EQ to enhance the tracks, make them sound consistent, and fine-tune the bass for the venue. I'm also using the Waves MAXX BCL processors as an AES insert to the console, and this is the best I've heard it.

"For EQ, I'm mainly using L500's dynamic EQ, adjusting it to suit the different types of tracks. If it's a techno track, you need a driving high-mid to keep the snare going. Some of the vocal tracks tend to be harsher, so I need to compress them and I find that the dynamic EQ works better for that application because it's more subtle than just tweaking the parametric EQ. When mixing on other consoles, I generally find some of the high frequencies to be quite harsh. I'd have to EQ that out, but the SSL Live has this warmth and depth of the solid lo-mid response that balances the high frequencies so I did not have to do that."

(Jim Evans)

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