Multi-platinum recording artist and guitarist Neal Schon hit the road this March on a mini-tour before heading to the studio with Journey for the band's forthcoming release. The Neal Schon Band made its debut at the 2010 NAMM Show and took to the highway on a brief swing through clubs in and around the West Coast, including a live recording for a future DVD at the historic San Francisco Fillmore Auditorium. â€¨â€¨
Working primarily with in-house production staff and gear, the crew carried a mic package, cables, stands, stage boxes and a splitter box all owned by Journey. Additionally, engineer James McCullagh, arranged a DiGiCo SD8 to accompany him at FOH on the tour, after extensive experience mixing on international tours on DiGiCo consoles with Lucinda Williams and others. â€¨â€¨
Over the course of the 10-day rehearsal in Journey's Bay Area warehouse, McCullagh set the SD8 up in a separate room outfitted with a set of studio monitors. In that time, he was able to lay out the console for the tour—which comprised 40 inputs excluding doubled channels), plus 8 outputs for Left, Right, Subs, Fills, Smart, Talkback and Record L&R—and to experiment with mic selection and onboard effects/compression. â€¨â€¨
"I'd been wanting to try this console out in a live setting," he explains, "and once we got on the road, I found it was perfect for what we needed. Going from a D5/D1 to the SD8 was a little different, but nothing major. The basic structure for all DiGiCo consoles is the same, so it took me about a day to adjust. Working in small clubs as opposed to larger venues does require a slightly different approach, but in terms of how I use the console, it's still the same. I still double my snare channel and heavily compress one of them, and I still route the whole kit to a drum bus, heavily compress them and bring that back on a channel. I guess the only difference is I just use less of it in the PA."
â€¨â€¨Citing perhaps his favorite feature about the SD8, and DiGiCo consoles in general, is the sound. "I just like the way they sound," he offers. "And over the years, I've mixed on quite a few. This and the it's small footprint was the fundamental reason I asked for the console… but I'm also big fan of the multi-band compression."â€¨â€¨
The increased challenge of playing in clubs was lessened considerably with the inclusion of the SD8. "Even though this gig is a simple, straight-up Blues/Rock tour, playing in clubs is always a challenge. But merely having a console with the flexibility of the SD8 helps solve most of these challenges, and the SD8 rocks it so well." â€¨