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Outboard gear: Desks vs hardware Waves’ SoundGrid Server One.

“Since albums are now crafted with plug-ins, the overall sound has improved dramatically,” comments Waves Live’s Noam Raz, “and live productions are expected to follow suit and deliver the sound of the album in shows”

“I prefer a console that [gives] me not only a good sound but has good built-in channel dynamics and a range of effects units, so I would only resort to outboard units for specific purposes”

David Millward

PM1D, 02R and DM3000, but it was the arrival of Digidesign (now Avid) in the live market that fully convinced him about the new technology. “The Avid stuff is still great, and I really got into the Sony Oxford [now Sonnox] plug-ins, but I would never consider using any outboard with one of their consoles,” he says. “With other digital consoles, I would generally

look to have a couple of Lexicon PCM91s because there are several manufacturers whose reverbs don’t really cut it.” Ray Furze, whose diverse

credits include the Spice Girls, Pixies and The Beautiful South, works predominantly on complex productions in arenas and stadia, which he accepts would be “difficult, if not impossible” with analogue.

Having made the transition to digital, he now almost exclusively uses onboard compressors and gates, but “on occasion” still takes an outboard tube (dbx or Summit) if the lead vocal is prominent in the mix. “I try to use all onboard

effects for convenience and recall of parameters scene by scene, which means you can make quite dramatic changes

Frank Ocean FOH man and analogue diehard Dave MacDonald believes “plug-ins [have] made a lot of live mixes bland” and says “outboard is a good solution to stand out from the crowd”

between songs that you would never be able to achieve on an outboard unit, unless you MIDI it all up,” he says. “The few exceptions to this are for quiet concerts with an orchestra and vocalist. I like to take a Lexicon 960 or 480 or TC 6000 system, where I think the high quality of reverb can be appreciated. For louder rock or pop shows I like to take a dbx

120, which I use to give an extra dimension to the bottom end.” David Millward, who has

worked with Morrissey, Swing Out Sister and Tindersticks, observes that in the days of analogue consoles “outboard gear was essential to some degree” and that the choice of units would be based on what the engineers thought they needed and the budget available. “A lot


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