Zane Carney Goes Full Nerd On The Next Generation Of Sound Gear

Once described as “the future of electric guitar,” and currently one half of EVAN + ZANE (among other projects), the renowned guitarist discusses his livestream and studio gear including LD Systems Maui series PA systems

Check out Carney's most recent livestreams here, and a Q&A with Live Design below.

Live Design: When did you first begin using LD System products? 

Zane Carney: I got my first LD Systems MAUI 11 G2 in 2019 after hearing it at NAMM Show. I needed a small footprint PA for my recording studio where I rehearse for EVAN + ZANE and solo artist full band shows and the MAUI fit the bill perfectly.

LD: What appealed to you about the MAUI 11 G2?

ZC: There are a couple of things, honestly! For one, as an artist who’s devoted much of their life to nuances in the language of musicwhether that’s through music theory, jazz improvisation, or toneI’ve developed a very specific tonal palette. I’m that guy in the mixing sessions who’s less obsessed with brute levels and more focused on the harmonics and aural spacing of the record. Probably my favorite thing about the MAUI is that it has a really balanced midrange that doesn’t feel honkey or abrasive, but also isn’t muddled with overwhelming low mids. I find that the 750-2k spot is where PA’s really show their mettle, and the MAUI really shines in that area, in my opinion.  And the independent subwoofer control has been surprisingly helpful when going between full band and vocal-only rehearsals. It’s just a really balanced plug-and-play system for someone who isn’t bringing a mixer with them. That being said, I’ve also used LD Systems VIBZ 12 DC with it and found that pairing to be really, really top notch. My recording studio sounds light years better than any rehearsal spot with huge PA speakers in LA because of how “works right out of the box” the MAUI and VIBZ are together.

As artists, using products like the MAUI 11 G2 allows Evan and I to focus on our actual show and performance because of the user-friendliness with all-in-one capabilities and easy operationwe can set up the product in no time. It’s of course important that the sound quality allows for silky highs and powerful bass, which the MAUI 11 G2 delivers on. 

LD: Why did you choose MAUI 11 G2 for this particular livestream? 

ZC: These livestreams that I’ve been doing from for the past 18 months are usually powered by my recording signal chain only, but for this very special EVAN + ZANE Halloween show we’ve decided to invite a very small group of close friends to enjoy the music from my backyard while watching our set through my floor to ceiling windows. So, we’re using the MAUI 11 G2 to pump out the music at full high fidelity while streaming to thousands of people on Twitch at the same time. We basically get two audiences for the price of one, thanks to the MAUI 11 G2.

And one great thing about the MAUI is that it’s absurdly portable. So, moving it from my studio into my backyard will take a maximum of one minute, if that, because it’s so unbelievably light. Basically, the MAUI is going to give us a really nice way to share Halloween with people we love while also letting the Twitch audience feel the live energy from our friends who will be watching in a COVID-safe way.

LD: What are some of your other workhorses in the studio and for livestreams?

ZC: Ooh, now we’re getting nerdy! I do a really fun thing on my weekly Twitch streams where my audience watched me learn songs live in real time with the help of my iPad Pro running Goodnotes 5. Once I learn the song, I play it back immediately in my own unique, improvised wayalmost as a musical magic trickand pretty much the only guitars I’ve been playing during these “live learns” are my Taylor 812e 12-fret and either my Heritage H-575 Artisan Aged archtop or my Montarado Viola Guitar. But, I have 45+ guitars hanging behind me every stream, so there’s always the chance of some wacky guitar showing up.

As far as other gear, the studio is head to toe in Blue Microphones running through Universal Audio’s Apollo 8p, Apollo Twin and OXBOX with my electric signal chain almost always featuring a rare hand-wired Siegmund Amplifiers guitar amp. And guitar pedal wise, I switch things up a lot but recently I’ve been putting my brother’s preamp guitar pedals at the beginning of my signal chain! He created a guitar pedal company called Quarantine Effects USA during lockdown and I’m in love with his pedals. He’s a frequency-nerd like I am (actually, more so) so it’s like these pedals were designed just for me.

What I’m really excited about with this stream is having my mastered-record-quality sound being not just streamed to Twitch, but also stereo sent to my backyard. I honestly wish *I* could be in the backyard to experience this concert live through the MAUI 11 G2it’s gonna sound so full and powerful!

LD: Now that venues are opening up again, how do you think live music has changed after the pandemic? 

ZC: I have a really strong feeling on this, as someone who’s straddled both the worlds of high visibility musical events where full production teams take care of everything (John Mayer, Avril Lavigne, CARNEY opening for U2, etc.) and more niche performances with my jazz quartet and performance art experiences, where I might need to be more nimble and have only a skeleton crew.

The democratization of the music industry has been a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we get to control all aspects of our art, on the other hand we’re sometimes expected to wear too many hats on the path to delivering our vision. Not to mention, if you’re like me, you have a guitar signal chain that’s pretty much 100% analog and requires maintenance and guitar tech-worthy skills if something goes wrong on stagethat’s the price of high quality, in my opinion. So, when it comes to amplifying my message (literally and figuratively) I need to make sure a) that things just work and b) that they’re simple to use. This is where products like the MAUI 11 G2 are so crucial; it just works and it doesn’t even require any cables, you literally stack the speakers on top of the subwoofer and you’re ready to perform.

In fact, in September of 2020 my friend asked me to play a house party on his neighbor’s lawn. Pre-pandemic I wouldn’t have said yes because I don’t do “casuals” anymore, but I was so hungry to perform and see people I loved that I said yes. He asked “oh shoot, do you have a PA?” to which I responded “oh man, I got us covered.” I showed up with the MAUI 11 G2 and it was up and running maybe two minutes after I arrived. So the MAUI is genuinely part of a very special memory for me; my first post-pandemic live performance.

Long story longer, I think the ability to be nimble is going to be a key element for all musicians moving forward. The days of 15 person live crews aren’t over, but there is now a new space for artists to come up with a vision and quickly throw it online or in someone’s back yard. It’s not about the size of the audience, it’s about the meaning behind the art and I think having access to affordable tools like the MAUI 11 G2 is going to fuel this post-pandemic artistic renaissance.

LD: As a musician, what are you looking for in the next generation of sound systems?

I think sound systems are going to continue to become more nimble and filled with more options, just like cell phones and tech in general. While I’m analog through and through, I like my live sound systems to be as transparent as possible so they can communicate the years of hard work I’ve put into creating my sound. My hope is that companies continue to innovate for artists who want to operate outside the confines of the traditional old-world model, and I’m really excited to see how LD Systems continues leading this charge.

See below for a clip of the EVAN + ZANE Halloween livestream.