Performing in the band of original Beatle and cultural icon Sir Paul McCartney is the quintessential dream gig — one that requires serious perfectionism. Keyboardist and musical director Wix Wickens and ace keyboard tech Howard “DJ” Howes recently shared why they rely on the QSC TouchMix-30 Pro professional digital mixer and K.2 Series loudspeakers to ensure that the myriad of musical parts that need to be covered on Sir Paul’s many tours are heard loud and clear.
“I’ve worked for Paul McCartney for more than 16 years,” Howes begins. “When Paul started touring again, we designed, built, and programmed the current keyboard rig before the start of the first tour.” The first of many reasons Howes chose QSC was consistency: “Wix requires his own set of speakers onstage just like a guitarist requires an amp,” explains Howes. “He wants to hear his sound coming from the backline as opposed to the monitors or front-of-house. I first knew about QSC through my friend J.C.Faxas. I had a studio project that needed a surround mockup and added five of the K Series to do a mix. Even though they technically weren’t studio monitors, they sounded amazingly detailed and powerful and served the purpose surprisingly well.”
If QSC powered loudspeakers were accurate enough stand in as studio monitors, Howes knew that they would excel at their intended use as live sound monitors. He wasn’t disappointed. “We previously had an association with another speaker company and the sound was never quite what we wanted. I mentioned the K.2 Series to Wix. As he wanted something on the bigger side onstage, we chose two K12.2s and two KSubs. Out of the box, we got instant clarity. We didn’t have to EQ them — we just let the crossovers do their work. The K.2s have a lot of presence and sit very well in a live environment.”
With 2,000 watts of power and Directivity-Matched Transition to ensure smooth coverage, the K12.2 loudspeakers performed admirably when called upon to be more than keyboard monitors.
QSC reliability is key when working with an artist whose stature as a living legend hasn’t reduced his appetite for performing live. “One reason The Beatles stopped touring is that the technology wasn’t available at the time to hear themselves like they wanted to,” notes Howes. “Now, a lot of other bands might do a world tour and take two or three years off, but with Paul McCartney, it’s a world tour every year!”
Wickens insists on playing fully-orchestrated arrangements live, with no backing tracks, and is therefore an onstage octopus with the gear to match. “There’s older Roland JV equipment, and several vintage samplers, because we still like how they sound. There are two Macs running MainStage. Wix is often using two hands, two feet, and a breath controller at the same time! With all that going on, it’s great that the TouchMix is so much more intuitive than any of the other digital mixers out there. I don’t have to stop and think about how to use it.”
“The fact that we can record multi-track audio from the TouchMix is quite useful as well,” Howes continues. “It’s only linked to Wix’s rig, but if for any reason he wants to record, I can do that at the touch of a button, then transfer it to the computer later. It also interfaces directly to a computer over USB. The TouchMix is really a wonderful piece of technology. We have to be very adaptable, and the K.2s and TouchMix have integrated very well into every environment, from intimate clubs to large arenas.”
Wix Wickens, who also uses QSC for personal gigs, concurs: “I’ve been using the QSC TouchMix and K.2s on the road for some time now and have been very happy,” he says. “They immediately sound good, are easy to set up, and importantly, are roadworthy!”
QSC 50 and Forward celebrates a company founded over five decades ago, now a globally recognized leader in the design, engineering and manufacture of award winning high performance audio products including power amplifiers, loudspeakers, digital mixers, digital signal processors (DSP), and the Q-SYS™ networked audio, video and control platform. Uniquely leveraging a broad range of technologies located under one roof, QSC products outperform the sum of their parts by delivering reliable, scalable and flexible solutions for professional installed, portable, production, corporate and cinema customers worldwide.