After a nearly five year hiatus—and eight gold and platinum albums of retro soul and rock 'n' roll— Lenny Kravitz takes to the global highway with an 8-piece backing band in support of his latest and ninth studio album, Black and White America. Taking musical cues from the past while looking forward in true Kravitz style, he pulls together a wide range of musical and cultural influences.
Working with Mike "Spagoo" Sprague of Sound Image, production/FOH engineer Laurie Quigley crafted an elaborate touring rig that would allow them to retain the high audio quality Kravitz demanded, regardless of the venue size. These two mirrored systems are comprised of DiGiCo SD7s at both FOH and Monitors (with engineer Dan Horton pictured at right) for use on bigger show dates, with a pair of diminutive SD11s for use on the band's myriad promo gigs and fly dates.
"I've been using the SD7," Quigley states, "because it is the best sounding digital control service available. More to the point, DiGiCo products just sound better. The SD7 has everything I need right under my fingertips. I added the newer SD11s on this tour so that we could maintain the quality that Lenny has become accustomed to, on small press and TV shows. With space issues, the 32 Flexi channels on the SD11 were perfect. We maxed this little baby out, but it did the job very well. In fact, we are now also using the SD11 for our support band, Raphael Saadiq, on this leg of the tour."
Quigley also carries an external rack of effects to administer on Lenny's boutique sound and vocal effects—a BSS 901 and Empirical Lab distressors for Lenny's vocals, Smart compressors for the sound system and also for all the overheads, in addition to Bricasti reverbs, Culture Vulture distortion units, Leslie vocal effects, Lexicon 960, dBx 120x, 3 x SDE 3000 delay units and a H3500, to name but a few.
Quigley offers his no-bull advice to getting the most out of any audio system. "Let's get back to basics, lets plug a mic in, see what sounds better, and then start from there. Too many people have forgotten their basics. If you present a properly tuned sound system, the right mic in the right place, and let it breath and do its job with a good control console, you won't need a plug-in on every channel to start off with. My advice? Learn how to properly tune a sound system, get a DiGiCo mixing console and don't over-think it. Simplicity breeds consistency. If it sounds good, leave it alone."
"Let's forget all the b******t and just plug a mic into a channel and let's see which one of these wonderful digital control consoles sound like a soundboard. DiGiCo products sound like soundboards, like the analog boards, that we who are old enough to remember, were brought up on. The SD7 sounds like a soundboard; like a more convenient version of an XL-4. But better, smaller, lighter, quicker and more adaptable. It's all there under one console, not 2 or 3 very large and HEAVY soundboards. And, the new DiGiCo SD 96kHz racks rock!"