Maluma’s live sound team recently chose the Waves eMotion LV1 live mixer, the SuperRack live plugin rack, and Waves plugins to mix the Amazon Music Prime broadcast of Maluma’s homecoming concert in Medelin, Colombia—the major highlight of the Latin pop superstar’s recent tour, playing in front of 54,000 fans.
We’ve talked to Maluma’s engineers—FOH engineer Lucas Pinzon (Carlos Vives, Bomba Estero), monitor engineer German Tarazona (J Balvin, Jarabe de Palo), and broadcast engineer Fabrizio Piazzini (X-Factor Spain, Calvin Harris)—to learn about their setups and live workflows.
“I’ve been using Waves plugins constantly over the last 11 years,” says Maluma’s front-of-house engineer Lucas Pinzon, “and today they are essential to my work on every show. I use them on my DiGiCo Quantum 338 console via its Waves IO port and the Waves SuperRack live plugin rack, and it’s amazing how creative I can be using this setup. It gives me unbelievable agility, where a split second is vital to get what I want in a live show environment.”
“I have several favorite plugins,” he comments, “and these are just examples—just some of my must-haves that help me deliver quality audio every night, in venues with complicated acoustics. The F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ is a great tool, since not only can I equalize with precision, I can also compress band-by-band according to my needs. Of course, F6’s real-time visual analyzer makes everything visually faster. The Scheps Omni Channel is a Swiss army knife that I use a lot in my chains. I love it! In addition to having a very nice color and texture, it is totally customizable. It helps me build a unique sound, according to my criteria and taste. I can also include it as an external plugin into the internal chain. The PSE (Primary Source Expander) is a MUST for cleaning my vocals of disruptive mic bleed! The eMo D5 Dynamics is a great and versatile plugin that I use as a starter when I need to go fast for some dynamic requirements. The CLA Compressor/Limiters are spectacular: CLA-2A on bass and vocals, CLA-3A on my guitar groups, and the CLA-76 on my drums – the possibilities are endless. I really enjoy the particular sound and color of the dbx® 160 Compressor/Limiter because it leads me to a sound that I have stuck in my memory from analog times, with a unique punch and precision. Finally, the Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain is simply exquisite—an absolute work of art.”
Pinzon continues, “In this 360-degree show, the acoustic energy is very impressive, in that all the microphones are open and located literally below the PA, so I take great care of my gain structure as the basis for everything. The plugins with which I can literally ‘clean’ the sound are my secret weapon to be able to mix this show. I use the eMo D5 Dynamics, PSE, CLA 76, WNS Noise Suppressor on voices, and the NS1 Noise Suppressor for acoustic guitars.”
Monitor engineer German Tarazona comments, “For me, SuperRack has been a new world and a total game-changer for my in-ear monitoring mixes. This is my first tour using DiGiCo with Waves integration, and it’s been my best decision. I have control from the console for any parameter of the plugins that I select, which allows me to be more precise when making changes during the concert.”
“For this tour,” he continues, “I use a DiGiCo 338 console with a Waves IO port, two Extreme-C SoundGrid Servers for redundancy and a Mac mini for my SuperRack. During rehearsals, I like to use the touch-screen. It allows me to navigate very fast, but during the show, I am very careful with every step I take, so I prefer to use the Touch and Turn knob of my DiGiCo to change the parameters of my plugins. This is an incredible advantage of SuperRack’s integration with DiGiCo. I also have the privilege of having a singer and a band that are very well-versed in technology, so with every plugin I use we explore it as a team so that everyone enjoys the process of their instrument. What reassures me, as well, is that they don’t feel any latency in their mixes.”
Using Waves plugins is integral to Tarazona’s workflow: “PSE is an essential plugin in my vocal chain; it really helps me to control the environment of my 360 stage. Furthermore, my two backing singers are singing under the PA and I can have up to four guest singers on stage at the same time, so I can perfectly control their mics on their in-ears. My secret weapon for drums is the H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb, which enables depth and a very clear space between the instruments in the in-ear mixes. I also use it on acoustic guitars; one of my favorite effects is the H-Delay Hybrid Delay. Its analog emulation is very real. The C6 Multiband Compressor is always my favorite multiband compressor for sequences. It enables me to get naturalness in my in-ears song by song. I use the SSL G-Channel on almost any instrument. It’s a very versatile equalizer. Every parameter of the EQ gives me exactly what I'm looking for and its compression and gate are so real that sometimes I feel like I’m operating a real SSL console channel strip.”
“We’ve used the LV1 mixer not just at FOH and MON,” says broadcast engineer Fabrizio Piazzini, “but also to broadcast our live show on Amazon Music Prime and the Amazon Music channel on Twitch. The LV1’s sound quality is absolutely amazing—nothing compares to it. Open top end, super-fast transients, wide stereo image and almost infinite headroom. Furthermore, the audio engine is so clean – its stereo image is industry-leading and the ability to dial in any plugin on any channel really elevates this platform to be the best sounding around.”
Piazzini continues, “Choosing the LV1 was the most versatile solution. Its portability is bar none. It allowed me to get the mix ready even if I was on holiday. What other desk this size fits in the back of my car along with my family and all luggage for a two-week holiday? This was a very strong point for the client as we worked together with tracks recorded on previous shows. Form factor is key in today’s touring, and we could fit two complete systems in the space of half of any other console available.”
“As far as networking,” adds Piazzini, “the LV1 has huge possibilities. The really quick setup for multi-track and virtual soundcheck is a game-changer. Our setup is quite simple: Waves eMotion LV1, DiGiGrid MGB, Waves Extreme SoundGrid Server, DSPRO StageGrid 4000, Waves Axis One and Waves FIT Controller. The setup is very quick – 10 minutes and my two rigs were up and running!”
Piazzini remarks about using Waves plugins, ”99% of the time, I’m simply using the plugins that make up eMotion LV1’s channel strip—the Waves eMo Q4 Equilizer, eMo D5 Dynamics and eMo F2 Filter. They sound so good! I also use the F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ pretty much on any vocal, alongside Renaissance Vox, WNS and Sibilance. Then for effects, the Manny Marroquin Reverb is incredible!”
“When mixing for broadcast,” he continues, “spill in the vocal mics is a real issue. The Waves WNS plugin is a game-changer for us when it comes to that. Normally, you can clean up the vocal mics only so much before it really changes the tonal balance of the mix. Before, I’d use an expander, but when the vocal opened up, the EQ would dramatically change the whole mix because of the spill. With WNS’s multi-band feature, I can choose the band I want to use on a specific signal, significantly reducing mic spill.”
“Another fantastic plugin feature we use is the F6’s mid-side processing with an external side chain. I use it on two specific busses: ambience mics and band stem. On both busses I use mid processing triggered by a vocal buss signal, so when the singer sings, those frequencies are tamed both on the band and on the overall ambience, so you’re not fighting with the space in your mix or ending up with the vocals louder than they should be. Intelligibility is increased greatly with this tool.”
“With all these tools,” Pinzon sums up, “we had the confidence to deliver the best sound we could on this super-important show.”
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