The Special Tour covers Europe, the UK and North America through summer 2023
USA/Europe - The latest leg of Lizzo’s The Special Tour is currently taking the pop singer who recently added a fourth Grammy Award to her collection, winning Record of the Year for her About Damn Time single - across Europe, the UK and North America through summer 2023.
Since the start of the tour in 2022, front-of-house engineer Nick ‘Gauge’ Todd and monitor mixer Rico Gonzales have both been behind SSL Live L550+ consoles supplied by global production provider Solotech. Gonzales additionally uses an SSL Fusion processor and an THE BUS+ compressor and dynamic EQ, and Todd has also recently added a Fusion at FOH.
The two engineers switched to SSL Live desks for the three-month-long first leg of The Special Tour, which got underway in September 2022. The pair made the move to SSL at the suggestion of Gonzales, who has been with Stevie Wonder since 2014, mixing monitors for him during the past six years on an SSL Live console. He has also had years of experience working on SSL 4000 and 9000 Series desks in recording studios around Dallas, Texas.
For all the SSL Live console’s features and functionality, Gonzales is clear about why he made the switch: “My main reason is the sonics. Then, the onboard processing and all the EQ.”
He was previously using a variety of outboard hardware but has been eliminating some of it in favour of the SSL Live’s onboard processing. “The dynamics don't feel ‘hard’ unless you want them to. They're very, very smooth, very analogue feeling. I've been using the Blitzer on the bass,” he offers as an example, “and a little bit on kick and snare and the drum bus. Before, I was using an outboard dynamics processor, but I’m trying to see how much I can get away with using on the console, because it makes life easier.”
Todd, at front-of-house, also welcomed the change to SSL for the sound quality improvements over the previous brand of desk that he and Gonzales were using. “I find myself using less EQ with this console,” says Todd, who has been with Lizzo since 2021 and has also worked with Doja Cat, SZA, H.E.R., Normani, Vince Staples and many others. “Sometimes, things going straight through the desk and the preamps with no EQ sound great on their own.”
Beyond that, Todd continues, “The console does so much. There’s lot of onboard processing — and I use a lot of it. You really don't need anything else but the desk. And I honestly love the way the faders feel. They give me real nice feedback.”
Gonzales has also been using an SSL Live when working at conferences and other events with Bishop TD Jakes of The Potter's House church in Dallas — which installed three SSL Live L550 consoles in 2021 following his recommendation. “I use the Sourcerer de-noise plug-in on his lapel mic,” he says, and it acts very much like another popular de-noise software. “It cleans up the vocal quite a bit, especially a lav mic in an arena or an exhibition hall. So I've been trying that out on some of the vocalists with Lizzo,” he reports.

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