JPS Australia

History

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande 3

The world’s biggest pop sensation, Ariana Grande, bought her Dangerous Woman Tour to Australia this September and JPJ Audio joined her on the road!

Ariana Grande may be tiny, but her voice is big enough to drown out a stadium packed with thousands of screaming fans …. with a little help from a Clair Cohesion PA and her FOH engineer Simon ‘Si’ Thomas.

Toby Francis, Ariana’s usual FOH engineer, asked Si to replace him at the helm of the DiGiCo SD7 last May as he left to work on Katie Perry’s new tour.

Ariana Grande 4The Clair Cohesion PA has been utilized for her entire tour, unless unavailable in a country and then an L-Acoustics K1 or d&b J series stepped in, and it’s a system that Si is more than happy to have inherited. In Sydney, Ariana played the ICC Sydney Theatre with sixteen CO-12 per side in the main hang, twelve CO-12 per side in the side hang and three CP-218 flown per side in cardioid. Another six CP-218 per side were ground stacked in cardioid. Infills were Clair CO-8.

It’s very compact and light weight compared to other line arrays in its class and it’s got lots of headroom,” commented Si. “It has a really good high/mid which is very smooth. With this kind of music there’s a lot of odd sub content that goes down really low with which the CP-218’s do a really good job. The CP-218 sub is particularly good, it’s very powerful.” Si described the ICC Sydney Theatre as an ‘interesting’ venue but at the end of the day, he was happy with the result.

No one had flown subs in there like we did and I believe that made a lot of difference because if there’s too much down on the floor, it’s pointless,” he said. “Once you get some sub higher up, it works really well. I had heard horror stories about the venue but it was fine and quite decent sounding. Although getting in and out of it is a pain in the arse!

Ariana Grande 2FOH there is a fair amount of analogue involvement, with Si using the SD7’s subgroups to route out through Lake Processors which convert the digital to analogue. “I then have a Neve Portico 5059 Satellite 16×2+2 Summing Mixer and within that I’ve inserted various types of compression – Smart C2 for the drums, Crane Song STC-8 for the music, backing vocals a Tube-Tech SMC 2B multiband optical compressor and for Ariana’s vocal a Rupert Neve Shelford Channel,” explained Si. “The various compressors are on the A Channel side of the Portico summing mixer, which are then all fed to the B side of the summing mixer to create a master mix which has a Portico II Master Buss compressor across it. Then that would then output and come back into the Master Buss return insert point of the SD7 with yet another Lake, converting to AES. Basically it’s a like one big insert chain.

Added to that were a couple of TC M5000’s used for drum and vocal reverbs. Si readily admits that it took him a bit of time to get his head around what was going on but concludes that the system works very well.

Ariana Grande 4Ariana uses a Sennheiser MD 5235 dynamic microphone capsule with a Lake inserted across her channel so all of her vocal EQ’s are done in the Lake and not the console. In fact a lot of the serious work is not done in the DiGiCo which is basically being used as a big router! The Digico channel expander was used on the vocal to keep the noise floor down so when Ariana is in front of the thrust and is not singing, you’re not hearing the room noise or PA.

I’m using a Telefunken M82 kick drum mic which is really, really nice,” added Si. “I also have Telefunken M81’s for the snare drums but the rest of the mics are fairly standard.

Vish Wadi also used a DiGiCo SD7 to run monitors with everyone using Sennheiser 2050 IEMs plus there are flown sidefills, some CM-22 stage monitors on the floor for the dancers and CP-118’s providing sub onstage for the band.

The Australian tour was good fun and we really enjoyed it,” said Si. “To be honest, it was quite easy …. partly due to my system tech Jerrell Evans and the JPJ crew of Tim Seconi and Alex McComark, who were good lads.

Clair Cohesion Series makes Australian debut with Keith Urban

Keith Urban 25

All photos ©Troy Constable

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.

Keith Urban 14Kirk 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.

Keith Urban 5Out 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!

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