“Waves is the best prepared to respond quickly and seamlessly to various situations,” says LIVE DATE’s FOH engineer Takuro Sawada. He tells us why in the age of streaming and online concerts they chose to rely on Waves eMotion LV1 and plugins.
Tokyo-based sound engineering company LIVE DATE provides services such as live sound mixing, on-stage computer/DAW setups and live streaming for many popular Japanese acts, including Yorushika, MY FIRST STORY, Survive Said The Prophet and Ms.OOJA, to name a few. For many reasons, they chose the Waves eMotion LV1 Live Mixer and Waves plugins for broadcast streaming.
COVID-19 has seriously affected Japan’s live music industry. Budgets for live entertainment have decreased drastically, as arena-class events have been replaced by smaller live music venues, and hall-class events by small clubs. Current restrictions on all live events allow a 50% maximum capacity. As a result, it is becoming extremely difficult for event organizers to be profitable in arena-class venues. As a recourse, concerts take place partially live, and partially via streaming. Concert organizers are now selling two types of tickets: expensive tickets for the live experience, and less expensive ones for online streaming of the same live concert.
The growing demand for live streaming has also bolstered requests for better streaming sound quality. LIVE DATE has chosen Waves’ eMotion LV1 Live Mixer as a key solution in their pursuit of improved audio for live-streamed productions.
“COVID-19 has placed many restrictions on the number of staff members working in the studios and venues from which we stream,” says LIVE DATE CEO Shigeo Aoki. “Normally, just a few people would cover the PA, but now, we are sometimes limited to only one person at a time. This requires new solutions that are easy to operate. Also, performances by popular Japanese artists – MY FIRST STORY, Survive Said The Prophet, Tricot – are nowadays streamed live from non-traditional locations, such as rehearsal studios, restaurants and even private homes. Traditional mixing consoles are often unsuitable for these sites.”
Describing their setup needs, Aoki tells us: “To handle these new conditions, we were looking for a mixer that could be transported and operated by a small number of people, with the same (or higher) level of sonic quality as we’re used to, but with a minimal footprint. Waves’ eMotion LV1 was the first solution that came to mind. A complete LV1 system’s footprint is less than half of a medium live console, so you can place the LV1 system in any space – say, a hallway or a dressing room. Our complete LV1 system includes the Waves Axis One computer, the Extreme Server-C plugin DSP server, and the SoundStudio STG-1608 and STG-2412 audio interfaces (40 in/20 out total). We also own a DiGiGrid MGB interface. The interfaces are connected to each other via a network switch and a digicom RED Link10 with a LAN cable. I chose a Dell P2418HT as the LV1’s touchscreen display. And that’s all! It’s a very compact system that can go anywhere.”
“Since the live industry has shifted almost completely to computer-based digital consoles, switching to the LV1 was easy,” says LIVE DATE FOH and monitor engineer Takuro Sawada. “The LV1 is economical, but it’s also very flexible in the way you can use custom layers and user keys.”
LIVE DATE’s first and foremost consideration, however, is sound quality. “Our PA team uses Waves plugins to mix live shows anyway,” Aoki says, “so eMotion LV1 was the first choice enabling us to deliver the same great sound quality – only with the smaller footprint, and with the Waves plugins running inside the LV1 mixer.”
Discussing the superior sound quality of the LV1, LIVE DATE FOH and monitor engineer Masaru Sasaki adds, “We had a case where the sound was coming out of the venue’s PA system via the venue’s regular console, while at the same time we were streaming live via the eMotion LV1. The sound quality was so good that the venue staff were surprised at the difference between the sound coming out of the PA, and the better sound quality mixed on the LV1. The sound resolution from the LV1 was significantly higher.”
Waves plugins are an integral part of LIVE DATE’s workflow. Sasaki remarks, “I have many favorite plugins, but a few must-haves include the V-EQ4, an EQ modeled after the Neve 1081 – it works very well and gives you a very polished and pleasant sound. The CLA Classic Compressors, modeled after the Urei 1176, LA-2A and LA-3A – they enable me to use each color of the original hardware, which is quite different from the compressors offered in ordinary digital live consoles. There’s the SSL E-Channel – I really like this modeling of the SSL console’s EQ, and also the compressor, especially when used to add punch to my drums. Another must-have is the Primary Source Expander – a great expander for live mixing; it smoothly attenuates the sound of instruments leaked by vocal microphones and other instruments, and it processes with exceptional accuracy. Another favorite is the H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb – this is a super multi-functional reverb: you can do so many things with it, and it’s amazingly three-dimensional. I own almost all of Waves’ plugins, so of course I use additional plugins as well. Although many of the must-have plugins I mention are analog-modeled, I’ve chosen those that are easy to use and extremely effective.”
Telling us about his favorite LV1 features, Sawada comments, “There are two things that are important to me: Bus-to-bus routing, and the ability to adjust the panning of the stereo channel for width and rotation, just like the effect when using the Waves S1 Stereo Imager plugin. These two features are not common in existing PA consoles, and I think they were added with a DAW in mind. This is especially useful in a streaming mix.”
Regarding operational considerations that differ from other consoles, Sawada adds, “I think there is little or no difference in what you need to pay attention to when dealing with other consoles. If you want to focus on a unique feature, don’t forget the license key, I guess (laughs). Also, you have to check the inventory window after powering up to make sure the I/O, clock master and DSP server are working properly.”
LIVE DATE’s engineers control the LV1 via both a touchscreen and a physical tactile controller, the Waves FIT Controller, which is specifically designed for eMotion LV1. “The tactile FIT controller is important,” Sawada noted. “During a live event you need to pay attention to the performer, the level meter, and more. It is easy enough to follow a specific fader on the touch display, when you have time to look at things; but the physical faders make the operation more sensitive and efficient.”
Summing up their choice of employing a Waves setup, Sawada says, “Especially in recent years, I feel that more and more companies are developing useful plugins and software with new ideas that can be used for a variety of purposes. Of course, there are many good plugins available from other companies, and we are all aware of their merits, however, I believe Waves is the best prepared to respond quickly and seamlessly to various situations including mixing, recording, PA and streaming.”
“In order to keep the entertainment business alive in this very difficult COVID-19 situation, we feel that what we need to do now is to continue to bring live music to the audience via the Internet. At the end of the day, our job is to supply superior sound. I feel that the Waves eMotion LV1 is capable of delivering the same great sound anywhere, anytime.”
Want more on live sound? Hear about Church on the Rock adopting eMotion LV1 for FOH, Monitors and Live Streaming!
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