Off the success of his multi-platinum second album, Beerbongs & Bentleys, Post Malone set out on his world tour to take on the biggest venues in Europe and the UK. We asked FOH sound engineer Joseph Hellow of the Posty Co. touring crew to flex his current live setup and discuss how Waves helps him deliver savage sound for every show.
“Working for Post Malone is a dream come true. I’m trusted to do what I was hired to do—make it sound right every show! The Posty Co. crew is a great camp and we work together to ensure the sound is the best it can be every night, no matter what deficits stand in our way.”
Joe, please take us into your FOH setup for this tour.
I’m using the DiGiCo SD10 console with Stadius 32-bit mic pre-amps. At the stage, there’s a split where my genius monitor engineer runs IEM’s, and we work together to make things right.
I have a Waves rig setup with two SoundGrid Extreme Servers, an Apogee Symphony I/O MKII SoundGrid, and an active DiGiGrid MGB coax interface to record each show at 96k and utilize for a virtual sound check; I play back the recording of the previous night’s show, compare the recording with the empty room’s tones, and compensate for ‘human baffles’ based on the particular venue’s occupancy.
How do you bring Post Malone’s vocal sound heard on his recordings to the live show?
Well, the vision as always is bringing the studio to the stage. That’s my thinking every time I leave the house. To produce his sound, I use Waves plugins within snapshots via MultiRack SoundGrid, but with a live feel to enhance our fan experience.
One thing that sets me apart from most is my love for analogue hardware. My rack gear includes an API 2500, 2x Shelford Channel Strips, 2x channels of the Neve 5045 Primary Source Enhancer and a Neve stereo Master Buss Processor. To keep the analogue conversion under control, I use hands-down the best audio converters for my live setup, which is the Apogee Symphony I/O MKII SoundGrid. So, there are multiple layers of compression, and every piece of gear is doing a small amount, but it’s giving us big results and that massive impact to rip your face off!
I also utilize the H-Delay Hybrid Delay as one of my FX processors in order to emulate the texture and quality heard on his albums. I have each song’s tempo saved as a snapshot so it’s super easy to just hit the next snap shot or pre-fire each song’s tempo settings for Post’s passion-driven vocals.
What Waves plugins do you use during the show?
I run a variety of Waves plugins during the show via MultiRack SoundGrid from a Mac mini, including but never limited to the SSL G-Master Buss Compressor, L3 Multimaximizer, L2 Ultramaximizer, H-Delay and the F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ — which I specifically like for enhancing the sonic characteristics of the backing tracks.
I also use the F6 plugin on my master buss chain during the show. As I bring the volume levels up throughout the night, I have F6’s threshold control set to tame the harmful frequencies that might jump out in order to make our roller coaster of a set sound great at all optimal sound levels for our show.
Post’s biggest hits are very synth-filled and bass-heavy. Are there any acoustic parts of the show?
Yes. The song ‘Stay’ is in our set with live guitar. This is the point in the show where we can drop the impact and loosen up to allow the audience to unwind, and our ears to relax. Then we ride the wave back to the show’s peak to complete the set.
What advice would you give an aspiring live engineer on his/her first world tour with a major artist?
If you’re working towards being a full-time sound engineer, the main mission would be to mix sound at your local venues, schools, churches, and build up your chops. Ask questions, get on forums and online groups; if you work 10 hours a day on sound planning and mixing, you can build up your game and shoot to be the best. Work hard and never get complacent—even when you make it to the highest level, push it further!
Push the mountain higher, compete with yourself and never feel like you need to know everything. Just be humble, learn from others, but always find your own workflow that works best for you.