“The Waves LV1 system is the future. The clean sound of the preamps especially blew my mind.” FOH and monitor engineers for Asaf Avidan talk to us about touring during Covid, and why the eMotion LV1 is indispensable for their sound and setup.
Touring during COVID has created new challenges for live productions worldwide, with restrictions and uncertainties requiring a more flexible, lightweight approach. Stepping up to this challenge has been crucial to the success of Platinum-certified singer/songwriter Asaf Avidan’s extensive “Anagnorisis” tour, now trekking across North America and Europe with shows scheduled through mid-2022.
To meet the tour’s agile requirements, FOH engineer Gil Teleman and monitor engineer Arik Finkelberg have chosen the Waves eMotion LV1 live mixer. “One of the great things about the LV1 is that it’s compact and completely modular,” Teleman explains; “its combination of small footprint, versatility and top-quality sound would be hard to beat at any time; but it’s a real godsend during this challenging era for live tours.”
“To deal with uncertain schedules and limitations during COVID, we often have to rely on flights instead of a large tour bus,” Teleman expounds. “This means we need to think very carefully about the weight and casing of the gear. I don’t need an 8-foot, 100-pound surface to get the sound I want. It makes more sense to have a setup that’s small and light, but with a ton of options for my FOH mix.”
“That’s exactly what I’m getting with the LV1,” Teleman says. “The setup is compact and tidy, with everything controlled easily from the Waves FIT controller plus a touch screen or two. The mixer has great-sounding preamps and enormous headroom; and with all my Waves plugins running inside the LV1, I’ve got high-end studio sound for the shows, the kind where you want to print every show and stream it to the world.”
“When I presented this solution to the artist and management, everyone was thrilled; it was immediately approved. In fact, Asaf [Avidan] had wanted to buy some effect pedals for himself and the backing vocalists; but then he realized it wasn’t needed thanks to the Waves plugins I was going to use within the LV1. We were able to save money, weight, and the need for the musicians to handle FX.”
Compact and Flexible: Two FOH Setups to Choose From
Diving deeper into the specifics of his rig, Teleman explains: “For FOH I have a couple of different LV1 setups to choose from according to the situation – both with the emphasis of being compact and flexible.”
“For most shows, my setup is the FIT control surface combined with a self-powered mobile 15.6-inch touch screen. The screen sits in the zipped front compartment of the backpack, and the whole thing weighs only 12 kg (26.5 lbs). I can easily put it on my back wherever I go and take it as a carry-on on the plane.”
“My second configuration is even smaller! It's basically a touch screen/15.6-inch laptop and that's it. I use it as an alternative for emergencies, small PR sessions, and solo shows without the full band. Occasionally, I will add a portable screen. Being able to switch seamlessly to this even smaller setup gives me a level of flexibility I couldn’t have with another mixer.”
“Either way, we have a great-sounding setup that fits in just three Pelican 1637s, a 2U shallow case and a backpack. Both setups work amazingly well, and both have a Waves Mercury plugin bundle installed and running from within the LV1.”
“In this tour,” Teleman shares, “each of the four musicians on stage plays several instruments, and every one of them sings; so, we needed to plan a 38-preamp system that could be shared between FOH and monitors. Our main stage box is the DSPRO StageGrid 4000, with 32 preamp inputs and 16 analog outputs. For some extra inputs, I added the SoundStudio STG-1608. All the guitars and vocals go through the STG-1608, and all drums, percussion, bass and synths go through the DSPRO StageGrid 4000. Each stage box weighs only 7-8 kg (15.5-17.5 lbs), which is fantastic given the number of ins and outs they provide.”
“We cased the DSPRO StageGrid 4000 together with a switch that has the SFP optical option and put that in a Pelican 1637 Air Case: along with the cables it weighs exactly 23 kg (50.5 lbs)! Then, we cased the SoundStudio STG-1608 with two compact Waves SoundGrid Extreme Servers which again fitted nicely into a Pelican 1637 Air Case weighing 30 kg (66 lbs). All in all, this entire rig – stage boxes, DSP, switch – fit in just two cases with a total weight of 53 kg (117 lbs), which made our tour manager very happy.”
“Finally, I also have a 2U SKB case with a DSPRO StageGrid 1000 unit for even more ins and outs; together with its extra switch it weighs only 10 kg (22 lbs) and fits in a small, shallow case. To make the setup really comfortable for myself, I took a Pedaltrain pedal board and put a Mac mini underneath. The Waves FIT controller sits on top, and the board simply goes as is into a Pedaltrain backpack!”
Bringing Studio Sound to the Stage: Processing at FOH
“Now we’re getting to the fun part,” Teleman says when asked about his processing for the tour. “Asaf's latest album has unique backing vocals parts; recreating that in the live shows was very important to him. I’m using various combinations of the Waves Vocal Bender, Doubler and CLA EchoSphere plugins to recreate that sound in the LV1, and it sounds awesome! The settings on these plugins change by the scene, from heavy add-on processing to basic thickening.”
“My other favorite processors for this setup are the Waves F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ, an amazing multiband dynamic plugin that I can’t get enough of; Waves Smack Attack, which is the best transient designer I have ever worked with; and CLA MixHub, my go-to channel strip. I also use the Waves/Abbey Road EMI TG12345 as my ‘alternative’ channel strip. The Waves Primary Source Expander plugin is a must-have tool to control mic bleed; and the Manny Marroquin Signature Series bundle, especially the Drive and Delay, is thrilling to process with. Finally, I use Waves’ Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain on my master fader to finalize the concept of bringing Asaf’s studio sound to the stage.”
Staying Clean and Healthy at Monitors
“Right from the get-go, when we started production rehearsals, I was really impressed with the sound quality of the LV1,” says monitor engineer Arik Finkelberg. “The clean sound of the preamps especially blew my mind. Even without using plugins, the sources already sounded clean and healthy, which was very comforting to me. The guys on stage have a very high standard of how they like to hear their mix; and when I heard the channels for the first time, I knew I wouldn’t have to struggle with the sources to get there.”
“Another thing that really blew me away was the headroom, which was surprising in the best possible way – I don't think I’ve ever heard a mixer with that much headroom; it really helped us a lot with Asaf’s vocal being extremely dynamic!”
“Connecting everything is very easy: it takes me only 3-5 minutes to set up start to finish, including running tests to verify that everything works properly. Everything connects to everything else via a simple Cat 6 cable. It’s great to realize things can be that simple.”
"My LV1 monitor setup includes a Waves FIT controller, a 24-inch touch screen, a spare SoundGrid Extreme Server-C, and a Waves-optimized Axis One computer loaded with the Waves Mercury bundle. All are cased neatly in a 1637 Pelican Air Case weighing only 31 kg (68 lbs). Two additional servers are encased with the SoundStudio STG-1608. We have two stage boxes in the Monitors position, and a DSPRO StageGrid 4000 encased with a switch. I have an additional flight case with a Sennheiser 2000-series IEM system that we use for the shows.”
“The band wants clean, detailed studio vibe in their ears,” Finkelberg says when asked about his processing, “and for that there are some plugins I couldn’t do without.
“Everyone on stage is singing, and on some songs Asaf himself has two different vocal mics working together, one dry and one for FX. All these vocal mics can add up to quite a bit of bleed. The Primary Source Expander (PSE) plugin is a real life saver here: it helps tame the bleed in a natural way that I could never get from a regular gate/expander without tweaking for hours. I just load up the PSE and I’m almost immediately there. The Waves Doubler is also a must on vocals, as some of the songs incorporate a lot of pitch shifting on the lead vocals and the backing vocals.”
“For instruments, a few plugins are must-haves for me: the C6 Multiband Compressor, which I know very well from studio work, is on many of our instruments on stage, especially the large variety of guitars that Asaf plays. And the Waves Smack Attack transient shaper – which I got to know for the first time during this tour – is great for shaping the drums and bringing that extra punch when needed. Finally, the Waves Scheps Omni Channel is a great all-in-one channel strip that always delivers, especially with its three different types of compression which make it versatile for different types of sources.”
Summing up his experience on the tour, FOH engineer Teleman says, “In my opinion, the Waves LV1 system is the future. We have a versatile pro rig that enables us to give the artist and his band the detailed album sound they’re after. But no less important – we have a flexible rig we can transport easily and adjust to local conditions without compromise. This is crucial for making a live tour succeed these days and be satisfying for everyone involved – performers, crew and audience.”
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