Luke Bryan Brings Along DiGiCo
New York, NY (March 4, 2016)—Last year, Luke Bryan picked up “Entertainer of the Year” awards from both the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and the Country Music Association (CMA), and now he’s on the road making good on those accolades. Along for the ride are openers Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch; and gear and crew from sound providers Clair Global and Special Event Services.
Despite the presence of two separate audio companies (SES handles audio for Lynch), everyone involved seems to have agreed on the mixing desks—between the three acts, there’s a half-dozen DiGiCo SD consoles in tow. Headliner Bryan is using a DiGiCo SD5 for FOH and an SD7 on monitors; Little Big Town have SD10 consoles with them for FOH and monitors, as does Lynch.
Pete Healey, Bryan’s FOH man since 2011, used a large-format analog desk on the 2015 “Kick The Dust Up” tour. However, as the show (whose production Healey co-designed and manages) became more complex, Healey recognized that he needed to streamline the FOH position and his workflow.
“Our FOH footprint had become enormous with the old analog desk and a digital sidecar, so I did a console shootout at Clair Global,” he recalls. “But meanwhile, our monitor mixer, Ed Janiszewski, had been using the SD7 and he really enjoyed it. So I talked it over with the folks at Clair and with Frank Sgambellone, our system engineer, and it kept coming back to the SD5. We decided it was the most stable platform out there and had the best sonics.”
Healey is now running over 90 channels per show, including production inputs and highly specific inputs for tasks like triggering the sidechain compression for the toms, with two SD racks and audio networked over fiber. “It’s a much more streamlined FOH setup now, yet at the same time, the amount of control I have is unbelievable—I can literally put anything anywhere—and I’m getting analog-level sonics. The amount of shaping and contouring you can apply to each channel is really remarkable. Every week, I find myself getting into new layers of the console. There’s a learning curve, but once you’re in there, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
When Erik Rogers came aboard with Dustin Lynch last June, within two weeks he asked for SD10 desks for upcoming dates and Lynch’s touring vendor, Special Event Services, quickly supplied two. “We got them right out of the crate—they still had that new-console smell,” Rogers jokes.
“The SD10 is a huge improvement over what Dustin had been using before,” says Rogers. “The sound of the SD10 is outstanding—it’s a completely transparent-sounding console. You get out exactly what you put in; there’s absolutely no coloration whatsoever. But what I’m also finding is that as I get deeper into the console, I’m able to more fully utilize its tremendous capabilities to streamline my workflow. When I first started, I was using just a little bit of vocal processing here and there; seven months later, I’m using features like multiband and dynamic EQ and the [D-Tube] tube emulator. I’m constantly updating my work surface to make it more centralized and fast. And if I have a question, DiGiCo gets back to me by phone or by text in five minutes or less. The service is the best I’ve ever experienced.”