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Focusrite confessions from the Madonna tour

United States
English
High Wycombe, UK — 20th December 2006 — More than anything else, the recent Madonna tour was a triumph of technology, with a host of computers behind the scenes controlling everything from lighting to music. But one piece of essential technology, right up front, was a Focusrite Liquid Channel, used by vocal tech Sean Spuehler to help capture the perfect Madonna vocal…

After “quite a few years of drudge work” programmer and engineer Sean Spuehler’s career took off after a crash course in Pro Tools, long before it became required knowledge for everyone in the field…

“That gave me an edge as a programmer,” he says. “As a result, I was offered opportunities to work with some great artists and producers.”

He makes it sound easy, and one of those great artists he works with just happens to be the queen of pop herself, Madonna, which in turn led to Sean working on the recent massive “Confessions” world tour.

“I worked with Madonna in the studio on some of her past albums,” Sean explains. “She likes her in-ear vocals to sound like the album as much as possible, so it just made sense for someone like myself to mix her vocal sound and effects live. I started doing live gigs with her on the American Life promotional tour, which I guess was an audition of sorts, and ended up doing The Re-Invention world tour in 2004. The latest Confessions World Tour is an extension of that. It is great to be able to shake things up and get out of the studio for a little bit and experience the excitement of a live gig.”

Sean uses a compact but very high-tech set-up while on tour…

“I have been using the Focusrite Liquid Channel, Apple Logic 7 with an Apple G5, and a Digico D5 console on tour. I also use the Focusrite ISA 430 Producer Pack quite often.”

It was, however, the Liquid Channel that proved invaluable as a front end for that most important of tour ingredients, the Madonna vocal. In this case Sean used the Focusrite unit to insure a consistent sound throughout the tour…

“After finding the right setting for Madonna’s live vocal, the Liquid Channel proved unbelievably reliable,” says Sean. “We never had to worry when going from city to city, as it always just worked. In the studio, its versatility is what makes it so useful. It’s perfect for getting the right warmth and tone for different singers.”

And on the tour it was this versatility that drew Sean to the Liquid Channel in the first place…

“In the past, we were fixed to whatever preamp we had,” he says. “We wanted to use the Liquid Channel on tour because being able to try different settings is what interested us the most. I was a little afraid of a delay, but that was never a problem. We found a nice setting, and just left it alone after that.”

Sean is currently working on a few album projects, one with Steve Sidelnyk, Madonna’s drummer on her last three tours, and is also writing music for movies and commercials.
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