Il Divo (or “divine male performer” - as many of their female fans would no doubt agree) is a multinational quartet of singers who add an operatic touch to a variety of existing middle-of-the-road style music, singing in English, Italian, Spanish, French, and Latin.
The group is currently in the middle of a marathon world tour to promote its latest album Siempre, with multiple shows in Asia, Australia, Europe, South Africa, the US, South America and Canada. Ensuring that every audience enjoys the maximum quality of sound, long-term colleagues Chris Pyne and Rod Matheson are at FOH and monitors respectively, both using their console of choice, the DiGiCo D5 Live.
Chris Pyne, FOH
Capital Sound is the tour’s audio company, and Chris and Rod are extensively using the D5’s internal processing, allowing the minimum of outboard to be freighted across the world. This comprises just four XTA D2 multiband compressors, a TC Electronics M6000 and an Avalon 2055 mastering EQ inserted across the vocal groups.
The PA is a mixture of Meyer Milo and Mica, with Martin Audio subs, driven by Dolby Lake system processors while on monitors is a mixture of Sennheiser in-ears, Martin Audio wedges and L-Acoustics Arcs sidefills.
Rod Matheson, Monitors
“Both of us are using all 56 inputs on the consoles,” says Chris. “Dynamically it’s quite a challenging show to mix because there are four lead vocalists and every song is different in the way it’s performed - who’s singing lead vocals, who’s doing harmonies and so on. On top of that, we’re blending what is essentially a five-piece rock band with orchestra.
“Being classically trained singers, they are used to singing without microphones,” he continues “This means they’re actually very loud acoustically and I have to artificially create microphone technique using the D5 to mix in some of the vocal dynamics ”
All of this means that the D5’s snapshots feature is absolutely essential, not only because of the different ways the songs are performed, but also with the number of microphones on stage.
“It’s very loud on stage and I have to be careful with muting orchestra mics to avoid spill,” says Chris. “I’ve got all the gates, compressors and mutes automated in a snapshot for each song, which makes things a lot easier. It’s the same with Rod, everything that can open and shut, he uses! I think this show would be very difficult to do on an analogue console.”
Another key feature of both the FOH and monitor rigs is an ADK DiGi Duo 112 track MADI recorder. Chris uses his to record each show and, when setting up the next day, to play the previous night’s show back and make any adjustments to the desk’s settings as required. Access is instantaneously achieved from just the single click of a button on the work surface, allowing all recorded tracks to be automatically routed to their original channels without the need to reboot. All recordings are made as standard BWAV files so the material can be used in a studio on any DAW for album or DVD releases, such as Kylie Minogue’s “Homecoming Live” CD recorded in Sydney last year.
Monitor engineer Rod Matheson is also - very unusually - doing the same for his mixes. “With 12 stereo monitor mixes as well as 8 mono sends, the artists are very reliant on him,” says Chris. “As far as we know, recording the mixes on the MADI recorder and using the recording to fine tune the monitor mixes has never been done before. It’s a major step forward in monitor mixing which, of course, couldn’t have been done without the DiGiCo console.”
From gardens in South Africa, to Canadian ice skating rinks, to Bogotá in the monsoon season - the Il Divo tour is seeing big extremes in both the venues and the conditions it plays in. Add to that many thousands of miles of travelling and it becomes obvious that the reliability of the equipment is paramount.
“The reliability of the D5’s has been amazing,” says Chris. “Both consoles haven’t stopped once which, considering the amount of miles they’ve done and some of the dodgy handling by airfreight companies in certain parts of the world, is a huge testament to the build quality. Opening the box and knowing it will work perfectly every single day is excellent.”
Overall the tour is going very well, Chris and Rod’s experience as Kylie’s regular FOH / monitor team proving a valuable resource for the four classical singers as they get to grips with the rigours of what is, essentially, a rock “n” roll-style tour.
“We’ve formed very good relationships with them,” says Chris. “They trust us to use the technology to present to them in best possible way and the audiences are going home happy.”
He continues: “We are operating with the highest production values on this tour. Ticket prices are high and so people’s expectations are also high. We simply can’t afford for the show to be below par, because if it is, they will stay away. Most audiences these days have sophisticated home entertainment systems and they want that sound replicated here in the live venue! Generally they don’t understand the mechanics of live audio and nor should they. “But thanks in no small part to the DiGiCo consoles, we can fulfil those expectation levels.”