FOH Setup for Darkside
A few people have asked me how I created the FOH rig for Darkside - The Pink Floyd Show. During the first couple of years as FOH engineer on this show, the FOH setup has grown both in capability and sound quality. When I started, there was a single x32 console, and we've ended up with the rig pictured below.
Let's run through the individual elements that make up this rig...
X32 Console - Main FOH channels
X32 Rack 1 - Main FOH effects channels
X32 Rack 2 - Monitor console
Waves Server One
PC Custom Build - Displays to 3 screens, run's 2 instances of x32 Edit, runs Multirack software
2x S16 Stage Boxes - Channel inputs, monitor returns, foh returns (mains, front fills, aux sub)
Midi controller - to change through Waves Multirack snapshots.
Does it really need to be this complicated ?
When I was prepping for being the sound engineer for Darkside, I got the band to record multitrack files from a previous gig. I then played this back through the x32, and initially used all the processing, eq, gates, compressors etc on the x32. I also imported the audio into pro tools and attempted to do a similar mix. I found that I couldn't get close to the clarity and detail of the Pro Tools mix with the x32. This got me thinking about other ways to setup the system and improve the overall sound quality.
This led me to demoing Waves Mutirack, but at this point, only using it native on a laptop, and only for effects, reverb's, delays, vocal doubler etc.. I used this setup for a few gigs and found Multirack to be very reliable, it never put a foot wrong.
I wanted to expand the use of Waves Multirack now I was confident with the reliability, and had got used to how it works. We then purchased two X-WSG cards for the X32 Console and X32 Rack 1, as well as the Waves Server One, carefully selected plugins and a custom built pc to run everything on.
So lets talk through how this is all routed together.
All 32 input channels are in use on the stage boxes, these are connected to the X32 Rack 2 (Monitor Console), from this console I manage all of the wedge monitor sends. X32 Rack 2 is also sending the same 32 channels from the stage boxes to the X32 Console over the AES50 network.
The X32 Console with X-WSG card sends the 32 channels directly into Waves Multirack, and the returns are brought into the channels on the X32 Console. Eight of the X32 Console busses are working as effects aux sends, and are sent over AES50 to the X32 Rack 1. From here the effects channels are pushed into Multirack using the second X-WSG card. All the effects channels are mono to stereo, so I'm feeding the output of Multirack (channels 33-64) back to the input channels of the X32 Rack 1. All 16 channels are then summed into 2 stereo busses. These are then returned on the X32 Console via the AES50 network using the aux ins. Enabling inputs from all 32 channels, as well as 2 stereo fx busses.
In addition to the above, I'm also creating a main L/R insert on the X32 Console via AES50, Rack 1 and Multirack, enabling light bus compression and waves NLS bus across the whole mix.
The output from both the X32 Rack 2 (Monitor desk) and X32 Console are sent to the S16 stageboxes for all wedge monitors and front of house outputs (Main L/R, Sub, Fills)
I use Waves Multirack snapshots extensively. Every song has its own snapshot, and in some cases I use multiple for different sections of a song. Multirack enables some plugin settings to be 'Snapshot Safe', generally for drums, bass and vocal channel inserts, so I can tweak these as the show goes on, and recalling snapshots will not affect these elements.
The X32 manual briefly discusses the AES50 network capability. The routing options with multiple consoles are considerable, add in to this the Waves Soundgrid network, and you have the possibility to create a complex rig that is tailored to your specific needs. This setup has transformed the FOH sound.