28 March 2008

The sound guys in the background

Verve FOH engineer Ian Loughton with the Midas XL8

Verve monitor engineer Tristan Farrow with the Midas XL8

The Verve tour, which rolled out across the UK in late 2007, featured a Midas XL8 dual system, with consoles at front of house and on stage provided by Britannia Row Productions.

Front of house engineer Ian Laughton has worked with the band since they formed in 1992. He began the Verve tour with the XL8 after arriving back from a Razorlight tour the day before, having had just a brief demo at Britrow.

"It seemed pretty self evident to me really," he says. "After 18 years of being a sound engineer you either know something is right or not, and as soon as you look at the XL8 you know they've got it right. It's got some amazing features, such as the POP (population) group, it's so quick. The sound quality of course is absolutely fantastic. With other consoles I've had to use so many plug-ins and EQing to get it eventually sounding good, but with this desk I walked up to it, pushed a fader up and it sounded like it was in the ballpark, put some gain on it, did a bit of EQing and it sounds fantastic. It's as easy as that, it's a Midas and we all love Midas."

Monitor engineer Tristan Farrow, another Midas fan, was also keen to get his hands on the XL8. "The H3000 has long been my desk of choice, but when I was offered the chance to use the XL8 for this tour, I thought it was time to give it a shot," he says. "I'd worked with lots of digital consoles in the past and had been disappointed by the sound quality; you could never really get the full body that the H3000 gives you. I was keen to see if the XL8 could provide that, and so far it more than lives up to it. It's also been easy to get to grips with, and it's doing everything I want it to while allowing me to work pretty much in the same way as if I'd been using an H3000."

Both engineers are keen to emphasis that the XL8 retains the analogue, echoey sound qualities which characterise the Verve's live shows. For this reason, H3000s were used on earlier dates in November, but, as Loughton puts it, "There was always the XL8 lingering in the background. As they're a four-piece rock band we don't really need lots of fancy stuff, but there are so many great little tools which make your life easier.

"As this was a short tour I didn't use the automation, but I can really see it coming into its own when on a world tour. We've used the XL8 now and there's no going back..."