Daly City, CA, 2 November 2007 — Canadian rock band Rush has been exciting audiences and garnering accolades for nearly 30 years with its instrumental virtuosity and unique compositions. Known for producing sonically satisfying live shows, the trio is currently on a world tour in support of their latest album, Snakes & Arrows. Because of the complex nature of their music, the band requires state-of-the-art technology, and, therefore, chose two Digidesign® VENUE D-Show® Profile™ systems to handle all of their FOH and monitoring needs for this tour.
FOH engineer Brad Madix has worked with Rush on and off throughout the years in addition to other iconic bands, including Def Leppard, Queensrÿche, Shania Twain, and Shakira in his lengthy career. For the Rush tour, Madix chose VENUE for its exceptional sound quality and reliability, small footprint, and expansive access to plug-ins.
Madix got his first taste of VENUE while on tour with Shakira earlier this year. “With Shakira, the console performed at a level on par—if not better—than all other top-of-the-line consoles,” he recalls. “For any mixer who has spent any time at all on a digital console, they would find this [D-Show] console very approachable, and for anyone who wanted to wade into the world of digital live, [they] would do well [if they] start with the D-Show. It’s simple to set up and get running quickly.”
Live sound engineers aren’t the only ones who benefit from VENUE; according to Madix, VENUE wins favor with band members too, thanks to their familiarity with using Pro Tools® systems in the studio. “Band members find it familiar when they step up to it. They are familiar with the Pro Tools environment, and comfortable with tweaking on the console themselves.”
In fact, Madix found that the VENUE system’s seamless Pro Tools integration and Virtual Soundcheck not only streamlined his workflow, it had a profound effect on the overall engineer/band communication. “The ability to play back tracks for the artist and to make changes in rehearsals based on playback from fresh live tracks is invaluable,” he explains. “It is such a huge time saver. The artist can even step up to the console and tweak himself. Communication between artist and engineer can be such a frustration, but is made so much easier when you can both stand and listen to the same thing and talk it over while it’s playing back. When you can stop, solo an instrument and loop the playback and say, ‘That’s what I’m hearing,’ it makes for a much more effective communication.”
Madix took advantage of the Pro Tools integration while on tour with Shakira, recording a show in Moscow, which he mixed on the VENUE system. “Multitracks on this system were used for a Shakira [Live at Red Square Moscow] TV special,” he says. “We used tracks for televised shows in Dubai and Mumbai as well. Individual tracks from various shows will likely find their way into Shakira’s upcoming DVD, [which was] recorded in Miami and Puerto Rico. And I’m sure we will find opportunities to do the same kind of thing on the Rush Snakes & Arrows tour as well.”
But it’s the VENUE system’s expansive, native TDM plug-in capabilities that really gets Madix the most excited, allowing him to have access to a palette full of sounds at his fingertips that analog processing would never be able to replicate in one-stop shopping. “This was really a whole new and exciting world to me, and there’s so much to choose from,” he enthuses. “The VENUE pack of plugs is really pretty comprehensive. In fact, that comprised almost all of what I used with Shakira. On Rush we’ve managed to bring Waves Live, Crane Song Phoenix, Eventide® Anthology, McDSP, and [Digidesign’s] TL Space™ on board as well.”
He also likes the fact that he doesn’t have an arsenal of outboard gear surrounding him to get all the sounds he wants. “[The plug-ins] don’t take up acres of room at front-of-house, and are available for adjustment without leaving the mix position—these are no small considerations,” he muses. “There are plug-ins that allow me to quickly grab sounds from many different—and classic—sources. Someone has spent a lot of time emulating a 50s Bassman, so I can very quickly throw one on the bass. Crane Song has dedicated itself to emulating tape saturation, so I can make a vocal sound more natural without endless tweaking—not that I won’t tweak endlessly anyway!”
Some of Madix’s favorite plug-ins to use during the Rush shows include Line 6 Echo Farm, Eventide E-Channel™, Eventide Reverb, Eventide Ultra-Channel™, Fairchild® 660, Digidesign TL Space, Waves Renaissance Bass, Waves PS22 Stereo Maker, and Waves L1 Ultramaximizer, among these others: “Waves RComp [Renaissance Compressor] is really nice for a number of things, and I really like Waves Renaissance Axx on acoustics. Of course, [Eventide] H3000 Factory is like an old friend. [Crane Song] Phoenix is subtle, but very, very effective on all sorts of things, from snare to vocal. And with [Line 6] Amp Farm, Geddy plays a fretless on one song, and it just didn’t quite read in the mix the way we wanted it to. Changing ‘amps and mics’ did it. In fact, we found a preset that was very close to what we wanted, and required minimal tweaking. Ten minutes of playback, and the problem was solved.”
Rush’s monitor engineer, Brent Carpenter, is also a fan of VENUE onboard plug-ins, not only in terms of saving space, but for lack of cabling as well. “I do not have to compromise in the audio quality,” he says. “Its ease of set-up, and the fact that I don’t have to hunt for insert cables, is great!”
Carpenter also raves about the D-Show software used to run the show. “The ability to do recalls and only have one or two things change, or have the entire setup change, is very helpful,” he explains. “The complex nature of the music of Rush requires settings, especially monitor sends of various inputs, to be changed between songs—even during phrases inside of a song. [Snapshot automation is] extremely helpful in maintaining dynamics and instrument relationships to the in-ear monitors.”
But it’s a most unusual application that the VENUE plug-ins provide that has Madix raving: “I have room to set up a coffee maker and a popcorn machine at FOH! I never would have been able to do that with the acres of 1176s I would have needed with an analog desk. I may go out and get a blender too!”