POTTERS BAR, United Kingdom - Chart-topping indie pop band, The Feeling, has completed a year of predominantly club dates and boutique festivals, allowing its sound engineers Jon Sword and Andy Greenwood to put HARMAN's Soundcraft Vi1 digital desk through an arduous duty cycle, in which it has performed flawlessly.
The band has been playing through existing house systems, and while venues such as the O2 Academies and Nottingham Rock City have fortunately been pre-fitted with Sword's favoured Soundcraft Vi6 or Vi4 FOH desk, the production crew have been carrying their own monitor and backline setup.
The goal, according to tour manager and FOH engineer Sword, was, “Fast setup and ease of installation for the stripped-down shows without having to disrupt these existing house setups.”
Andy Greenwood confirmed, “We have enjoyed the use of a Vi1 for most of this year now—its compact footprint has been perfect for the smaller shows, and it is without doubt my favourite monitor desk. Having had considerable experience using the Vi4 and Vi6 over the last few years, the transition to the Vi1 was seamless. I have always found the Vi range to be â€˜intuitive' and the first time I saw a Vi1 I knew I would be happy to use this platform at a show.”
His faith was exemplified perfectly on the club dates. “We had the same two support bands each night so we set up a show file for them and allowed the local house engineer to operate the desk. Each day I would show the local guy the desk, explain a few basic functions and leave them to it. In 100 percent of cases, the local engineers reported that not only had they enjoyed using the Vi1 but had experienced no problems whatsoever.”
After working with the band for three years, Andy Greenwood knows just how audio-savvy the five musicians are.
“They are absolute devotees of Soundcraft,” he confirmed. “Historically, they were always against digital desks until they started using the Vi range, and to this date it is the only digital desk they are prepared to use.”
Aside from an excellent preamp, which always holds its gain structure, Andy Greenwood singled out some other cool features of the desk. “Principally there is the general layout, with its large touchscreen, minimal clutter and colour coding system which makes it very easy to â€˜see where you are' and at a glance assess EQ's, Dynamics, sends, etc. for multiple channels; this is very handy for a monitor desk.
“Another useful feature is the ability to quickly set up user-defined pages for inputs and outputs thus enabling the simplification of stage patching and allowing the grouping of items that are used the most; this reduces the need to constantly switch between layers on the desk.”
All the band (apart from lead singer Dan Gillespie) are on IEM's and Andy says that the inclusion of two dedicated monitor busses, “makes it very simple to jump between listening to a wedge mix or an IEM mix.”
Meanwhile, when Andy Greenwood hasn't commandeered the Vi1 in Monitor World, veteran sound engineer Jon Sword has been using it on corporate shows and festivals at front-of-house.
He also took it out recently with Kele Okereke from Bloc Party and with Sophie Ellis-Bextor. “During the whole of this year I have used the desk in every conceivable format. I have used it 30 or 40 times as a FOH board — and because it's so versatile I can do everything on it,” Sword said.
With regard to The Feeling tour, Sword stated, “Having not been on a Vi6 for a while I was able to write new show files—I have different styles of shows and have created different files to suit the type of event; it sounds brilliant because the Feeling sound has changed, with more emphasis now on hard disk tracks.
“The great thing about the Vi platform is that it never tells you how to use it — it leaves you to find your own way.”
HARMAN (www.harman.com) designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets – supported by 15 leading brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon® and Mark Levinson®. The Company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 20 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 12,000 people across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and reported sales of $3.8 billion for the twelve months ending June 30, 2011.