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Timecode, snapshots and virtual soundcheck vs. real world
Old 27th September 2016
  #1
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Timecode, snapshots and virtual soundcheck vs. real world

Dear Robb,

could you explain a bit more about the timecode setup you're using with Massive Attack?
Does the drummer get a click track, are there any backing tracks running of the timecode?
Who starts the timecode for each song?
Do you also use the timecode with other acts? If so how often?

You seem to be using automation quite extensively. How do you deal with the fact that the room acoustics and the way the PA is configured (especially the subs) often have a quite significant influence on the way the instruments (especially drums) sound?
Do you use the "selective recall" and "tracking recall"? I mean... if you have to adjust the EQ on a channel during the first song, will the next snapshot reset the EQ or if you change the levels during the first song, will the next snapshot reset those changes, will the changed levels remain intact or will the next snapshot's change happen relative to your manual change?
Do you ever correct the next snapshot offline (during the show) if you predict that there will be a problem?
Which parameters (if any) do you keep in "recall safe"?
Have you ever encountered any significant problems while recalling a snapshot during the show (e.g. feedback)?
Would/do you also use the virtual soundcheck in smaller venues?

Sorry for so many questions and thank you very much for doing this Q&A.
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Old 29th September 2016
  #2
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Hi Jetsam
lots of good questions. I might answer a couple tonight and get back to the rest tomorrow if thats ok.Its nearly midnight here and I've had a good dinner with my friend Nick Warren who has mixed some cool bands over the years. We might have had a glass of wine too. So...

could you explain a bit more about the timecode setup you're using with Massive Attack?
Does the drummer get a click track, are there any backing tracks running of the timecode?

There are two drummers they both receive click tracks. Also the bass,guitar,keyboard,Dj and all the vocalists. There are eleven performers on the tour plus an 18 piece string section on some shows. All working to click.

Who starts the timecode for each song?

There is a playback engineer for the tour Euan. He also is the bands studio engineer. He starts each song when everyone is ready. There are various clicks and counts for all the musician, prompts, even the odd piano chord for pitching that the audience don't hear. I receive 4 x stereo stems that have strings, samples or little loops depending on the song. Nearly everything is live. The second drummers triggers loops and percussion sounds from pads. If there some sounds that need to be added on top they're added via playback. They tend to be minor details like pads or a drone.


Do you also use the timecode with other acts? If so how often?

Its something I've done very occasionally but really got to grips with with MA. The lights, video and lasers all run from the code as well. As I receive the code as an audio track I can record it to PT and use it as part of my virtual soundcheck. I also feed the code to the visual department as direct out from my desk. This means my virtual soundcheck can become a virtual production rehearsal with all of us programming to synch up important moments in the show. 3D the main guy can sit with us and direct the virtual show exactly as it will happen when the audience are there. This means we can truly collaborate the entire 360 degree experience.
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Old 30th September 2016
  #3
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Old 4th October 2016
  #4
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OK second part to the answer:

You seem to be using automation quite extensively. How do you deal with the fact that the room acoustics and the way the PA is configured (especially the subs) often have a quite significant influence on the way the instruments (especially drums) sound?

Good question. So the first part is that I try to get the PA as close to the way I like it each day. However as you point out this can be very tricky depending on the acoustics of each space, the quality of the PA indoor/outdoor, temperature, wind etc. loads of variables. So the S6L has a selective recall. this means I choose which elements of each channel are recalled with a snapshot. So certain elements are not in my snapshots. The eq for the kick drum, toms and bass guitar for example. These I set each day and tune to the environment. I will have HPF for the toms for when they're used differently hitting the rims for example and also the dynamics for when the drummer uses beaters or brushes. I also use a multi band compressor on all the sub/bass elements, bass guitar, analogue synths PB drones etc. These I'll set to the crossover points of the PA and use them to control the energy going to each part of the PA.
The most important of all are the vocals. After my virtual soundcheck I get Cooky the 'third man' on the audio team to test each one of the eleven vocals. I'll add more than my normal amount of FX and push the level to see if I can get them to feedback. Each day the PA might be more or less on stage so the vocals might be 'hotter' than usual. Some of the vocals are very quiet with lots of fx on them so I don't ever want them to get unstable. I also use the Oxford SuprEsser on each vocal for de-essing so have to set these manually each day for the environment. Basically the programming is around, at its simplest, faders,mutes and plugins. There are other elements as well but much of the EQ,dynamics etc. I refresh each day.


Would/do you also use the virtual soundcheck in smaller venues?

Hell, yes. Can't imagine working without the VS. In production rehearsals I'm usually in catering with a pair of near field monitors or headphones but I still can achieve a lot i think.
Also with MA its a silent stage so makes the whole VS much easier. A band like the Manics with a hugely loud backline makes the VS more challenging for sure but I still used it everyday with those guys. They did come in do a real soundcheck each day though. Massive Attack virtually never do a 'real' soundcheck
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Old 4th October 2016
  #5
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Thank you very much!
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