Although the venue is equipped with a d&b audiotechnik PA system, Keith is a long time Clair account and so JPJ Audio provided their new Clair Cohesion PA system, purchased just in time for Keith’s Australian Ripcord Tour. Seamless integration within the Cohesion Series, assures uniform coverage in multiple venues regardless of acoustic challenges or sightlines. The Series provides higher output, reference quality sound within a smaller footprint; in truck space and in the air.
Keith’s FOH engineer Kirk Kelsey has mixed for a wide variety of acts including Live, Creed, Three Doors Down, and The Smashing Pumpkins. He readily admits that he has been blown away by the Cohesion Series. “The new Cohesion system is a totally different animal to anything else Clair has produced,” commented Kirk. “It’s also totally different to anything else that I have mixed on such as d&b, Meyer or Adamson. Whilst all of those systems are high quality, Cohesion just keeps going – it never compresses itself, has tons of headroom and it throws a very good distance. The clarity and vocal intelligibility of it is outstanding whether you’re in a theatre, arena or stadium.”
Kirk reports that as there is a large amount of low frequency in the hanging PA, he doesn’t have to fly subwoofers. “There’s not a lot of processing in the Cohesion as I believe that Clair wanted to give engineers raw power,” he added. “One thing I learnt with the Cohesion PA is that you have to build your show in this system for it to be able to work. I can’t just come in after an L’Acoustics or d&b show, and plug into the system. The Cohesion system will show all the flaws in the mix so you have to undo everything.”
At the ICC theatre there were twelve Cohesion CP-118™ self-powered sub bass loudspeakers run in a cardio pattern of two blocks of six onstage. Kirk reports that they are really, really efficient and that they deliver tons of output, in fact he actually has to run the subs at -10 compared to the rest of the system.
The main hang comprised of sixteen Cohesion CO-12 cabinets, Clair’s next generation of versatile, reference quality concert loudspeakers, with a further twelve CO-12’s for side hang. “The side hang is a 120° splay and the main hang an 80° splay,” Kirk clarified. “We also have a centre hang which consists of four Cohesion CO-8 cabinets and that covers the thrust that comes out from the centre of the stage. We also have CO-8’s stacked in various places across the subs or the stage to fill out little gaps.”
Kirk revealed that they had just played Canberra’s GIO stadium with the same configuration of sixteen Cohesion CO-12 cabinets and they were able to reach back of stadium with no problem.
Out front Kirk was mixing on an Avid Profile with a large number of inputs including eight inputs for Keith’s electric guitar alone. For this, Kirk uses many different microphones, blending them to try get the sound as big as possible, as one microphone would not do justice. “Danny Raider our stage right guitar player also plays a lot of auxiliary instruments and then Nathan Barlow upstage right, is the EDM factor to Keith’s new album which has electronica influence,” added Kirk. “Nathan has built this thing that he calls The Phantom that consists of four iPads triggering different types of samples as well as keyboards and pads plus a guitar. There’s a lot of talent of stage and they’re a really tight band. I got lucky with this band – I didn’t have to come in and fix anything!”
Kirk describes mixing Keith’s show as like mixing a rock show and that he just follows his lead. Initially he built snapshots for every song but discarded them after the first show as Keith is very much a free spirit on stage.
Although Kirk wasn’t using any outboard effects on this show, typically has eight RF vocal mics active for Keith as he can pop up anywhere on stage or out front at any time. “It didn’t seem cost effective to build money channels for each one of those RF microphones and as a result I came up with a scheme so next year I can go ahead and route them through their own separate mixer. I use a lot of Waves as well as Brainworx, SPL Transient Designer and Echo Farm.”
Monitors were mixed by Phil ‘side fill’ Wilke on a couple of Midas H3000 analogue consoles with a bunch of outboard effects. Keith and his band use both IEM’s and wedges, with Keith typically using just the one IEM as audience microphones don’t give him the same feel as wedges.
The Ripcord tour has been on the road for several months and fans regularly post to Keith Urban’s facebook page and there is rarely any mention of audio quality, which we all know is a good thing!