Snow affects hearing.
Such are the plaudits for the sound of Snow Patrol on their current tour that even the deaf are beginning to sit up and take notice. The band are blessed with the skills of a certain Mr Marc Carolan mixing from a Midas XL4; Carolan is a man who has built quite a reputation with this band and also with Muse, but it appears that this time he has excelled even his own standards. “Eventually I heard the best live sound ever last week with Snow Patrol,” said Werner ‘Vier’ Bayer a venerable member of the d&b audiotechnik product development team and the ‘ears’ of d&b, after attending their show in Frankfurt. A man not known to overstate the case, his opinion was quickly reinforced by the d&b Financial Director Kay Lange. Again Lange is no slouch in the listening department, even if he has traded in his sound desk for a spreadsheet. What makes it all work is a sense of purpose, and the sheer doggedness to make sure that this path is strictly followed; Carolan has both these characteristics in abundance.
The system is a d&b J-Series; supplied by Skan PA one of the leading PA hire companies in the UK. This is a company that has gone to extraordinary lengths to refine the touring package. Carolan’s arena system, despite long hangs of J for main and side system, deploys in double quick time thanks to custom built amplifier rack dollies that also carry a complete stage left or stage right system cable harness in a self-feeding hopper atop the rack dolly. The system design itself is of significance as Tom Tunney the Skan system technician for the tour described. “We implement a sub array on the arena leg of the tour that has been developed by Skan PA’s in house audio wizard Matt Vickers. For the first time we’re flying the J-SUBs behind the main system and we’re very pleased with the results, though of course we have tried this format in rehearsal mode. The principal benefit is the added coherence we are getting between them. The d&b ArrayCalc is spot on with the impulse responses that we get from Tuning Capture; obviously the sub alignment is very subjective to where you measure from, but ArrayCalc is usually accurate to within a few milliseconds.”
Carolan restricts most low end emanation to the flown subwoofers; he does have J-INFRAs on the arena floor as well, but it’s one of the hallmarks of his mixing style that he uses these for very specific low frequency effects that when unleashed, are extremely powerful. As Carolan himself said, “The mix between the INFRA and the flown J-SUBs is more about letting each box do what it is designed to do. The INFRA from a musical point of view reaches deeper, it feels like I’m getting an extra octave, but what’s important is I’m not reaching to boost frequencies so the tonality of the INFRA isn’t forced, it’s doing what it is supposed to. That keeps the subs in the air much cleaner.” As was said, sense of purpose and strict adherence.
Carolan is assiduous in his cleaving to the less is more route, no more so than when exposing the dynamics of the band’s musicianship. “I take every opportunity to rein things back if the song allows. This dynamic range in the band’s performance allows a lot of hearing space, an important factor with a band that can build very dense musical landscapes. The J-Series is my favourite system, but performance is enhanced by having a crew that knows how to achieve the even coverage that the audience deserves and that J has the potential to deliver; they do that incredibly well.”