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‘King of Reggaetón’ Don Omar Records Live with eMotion LV1

Oct 18, 2023

FOH engineer Yamil Martinez (Alex Campos, Ricky Martin) has chosen the Waves eMotion LV1 live mixer and Waves plugins for the recent El Pulso live recording by Puerto Rican reggaetón superstar and rapper Don Omar.

‘King of Reggaetón’ Don Omar Records Live with eMotion LV1

Rapper and producer Don Omar, aka “El Rey Del Reggaetón” (The King of Reggaetón), has won 32 awards, being one of the most successful artists of the genre. He is the recipient of three Latin GRAMMY® Awards, sixteen Latin Billboard Music Awards, one Billboard Music Award, three Lo Nuestro Awards, eight Viña del Mar International Song Festival Awards, and a Guinness Record for massive event attendance.

On choosing the Waves eMotion LV1 for this project, Martinez remarks, “My home base is Puerto Rico, and the LV1 allows me to take it with me anywhere, in this case, Miami. I can get the job done without compromising a bit of sound quality. The eMotion LV1’s sound quality is second to none! In addition, in this particular case, the most important thing about the LV1 is the scalability and flexibility to adapt to different setups and requirements determined by each individual project.

The LV1’s multitasking capacity allows the system to be shared by multiple hosts (software consoles), giving the system the ability of monitoring the different returns from the recorders in real time. For this project, the LV1 was the master console for a reference mix for video. Waves’ SoundGrid Studio was used to monitor the return of two of the three software recorder DAWs.

He continues, “The fact that the recording is fed to the recorders directly from the audio devices makes it absolutely reliable for tracking. On top of that, having two independent hosts simultaneously sharing and controlling the devices on the network translates into absolute redundancy in routing too. For the multitrack recording, everything was tracked unprocessed, made possible by paying close attention to the microphones, their placement and various studio types of details that sometimes are missed during a live show situation. On the other hand, it was necessary to prepare an elaborated live mix to feed the video recorders and system to give the video crew a reference and musical context.”

‘King of Reggaetón’ Don Omar Records Live with eMotion LV1

This live mix easily translated to the video production. “That very same live mix was used by the video director, Marcel Gama, and the editor during most of the editing process,” Martinez notes. “The reference mix needed to be as full and as detailed as possible for them to perceive and match audio and video with absolute precision. With those criteria as a goal, mixing with the LV1 was a major advantage that reflected even in the final mix. During post-production, a lot of the reference mix plugin chains and the setting used during tracking were retained for the final mix, making the post-production more efficient, no matter which DAW was being used.”

Martinez’s setup consisted of three separate audio worlds: FOH, monitor and recording. For the multitrack recording, a Waves LV1 console was used. The LV1 system consisted of one MacBook Pro, two Mac Mini, two DSPRO StageGrid 4000, two DSPRO StageGrid 1000, two Waves Extreme SoundGrid Servers, a Waves Axis Scope and two DAWs.

“Waves plugins were extensively used during tracking and reference mixes,” adds Martinez. “I used InPhase for aligning & combining dual input sources like drums, top and bottom mic into a single channel. I used the Primary Source Expander (PSE) as a very precise expander that excels on vocals. Because of its side chain detection, it allows even more extreme precision, no matter where it is placed in the chain. The Floating Band Dynamic EQ served as a zero-latency surgical EQ, plus filtering and dynamics, used to control or remove rumbles, noises and resonances with a very adaptative behavior at different levels. I used the Scheps Omni Channel as a zero-latency chameleonic channel strip, used after all the surgical correction was done to achieve the desired color. Smack Attack was used for recovering the transient on drums and percussion and to achieve a sound with lots of attack, even after they were heavily compressed. The eMo D5 Dynamics plugin, an extensive dynamic control with zero latency and very low CPU impact, was used on every strip of the LV1 console. Waves Tunes Real-Time performed pitch correction in real time (shared with the FOH). GTR Stomps Reverb, since it is a very effective and efficient reverb used simultaneously, was used on a large count of the individual channel. And the Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain was for final processing at the master bus that glues and colors everything, making it sound more polished.”

Martinez adds, about must-have plugins used during postproduction and mixing, “We used Clarity Vx, an amazing plugin used to clean the recording of stage noises and overall bleed on vocal microphones; Renaissance Vox as an overall and final dynamic control and glue for vocal groups; Sibilance, for vocal de-essing for individual channels and vocal groups; DeEsser, a low CPU impact plugin used for sibilance control before the vocal reverb and effects; and the Abbey Road Saturator, for adding transient definition on melodic and harmonic instruments like guitars and piano.”

Martinez sums it up: “This is my second live project for Don Omar. In 2003 I was hired to track Don Omar’s first live recording of his career, Last Don Live. This time I was hired to do all the audio production, and I can tell you that the technological advances that occurred in almost 20 years give us the possibility to achieve a very high audio quality, without overdubs, that we once could only have dreamed of. The Waves tools at my disposal are so powerful that we can get away with things that we couldn't before. I am really happy and proud of the outcome of this second round.”

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