On Rammstein’s recent stadium tour, audio engineer and producer Sky Van Hoff chose Waves plugins to create dedicated monitor mixes for Rammstein lead guitarist Richard Kruspe. We asked him how he reconstructs Kruspe’s nuanced studio sound on stage.
“We have such a high bar on this production that we try to avoid any issues going into the chains,” says Van Hoff, who serves as Kruspe’s dedicated monitor engineer on tour, and also produced Kruspe’s solo albums. “I am involved in Richard’s live guitar tones as well, so we made sure that everything is hitting the desk sounding huge and top notch! We also have the best audio and tech crew in the game, so everything – guitars, drums and bass – just sounds great at source. When monitoring the live show, Waves plugins have made it possible for me to break all boundaries and feel at home right away.”
Van Hoff mixes on an Avid VENUE S6L 32D, with plugins running as an integral part of the console via the Waves SoundGrid Rack for VENUE software. Plugin processing power is provided by a Waves Extreme SoundGrid Server. “I basically have a timecode remotely automated studio mix running into Richard’s IEMs for the whole setlist. Every part of the set and almost every track on the board are nuancing around the arrangements of Rammstein’s songs, locking in with each other perfectly. We’re talking about the S6L and Waves plugins being tweaked by around 320 snapshots for 22 Songs.”
“When I first got on the desk with Rammstein—which also was the first for me being at a monitoring desk or in a live situation as an engineer—Waves plugins absolutely transcended my imagination. Everything I am used to from the studio is possible in a live situation. I would have never imagined for this to be possible at this scale. I am absolutely stoked about the final mix I am able to run.”
As far as must-have Waves plugins, Van Hoff comments, “The Waves SSL G-Channel is a must on my master buss and on parallel and master compression. I squash the heck out of my drum mix on a parallel bus, using the SSL to acquire more attack and excitement and also to glue everything together. Glue is the word here. The SSL, musically and in the right tempo, gives me an energetic smack, attack, or if needed, a certain smoothness. On the master I use it to duck everything around my drums a little and also glue all those things together – while bypassing compression on Richard’s guitar tracks.”
“ I never do a vocal mix without the CLA-76, ever. It is probably my absolute favorite plugin. Its super-fast release, harmonic distortion, overtone structure, just the sound and the release time that’s available to me here is insane. It also gives me the absolute saturated vocal compression tone I like to go for. I fell in love with the Scheps Omni Channel back in the day when I did some factory-presets for Waves – this thing can do anything. I love the PuigTec EQs; I boost them around 1 dB of low/high shelf basically to glue the mix. Torque does wonders for me in making drums more ‘smacky.’ I use the Waves Doubler whenever there’s something mono coming from tape. I double it to make it wider and more exciting, quite important since Richard’s guitar is kind of focused in the center of the mix. The API 2500 is my favorite snare compressor of all time, absolutely hitting hard.”
Sky sums it up: ”Using the Waves Extreme SoundGrid Server, which allows you to run as many Waves plugins as you want, on as many channels as you’ve got, combined with the Avid S6L, enabled me to dive deep into the lair of tones and create the chains I love and am used to. I felt at home right away and was able to have Rammstein sound like they should on stage through in-ears and in general, massive, epic and majestic.”