Adapted from an original article by Steve Moles, published in LSI Magazine.
Bring Me the Horizon, who are a long-time client of SSE Audio Group, have benefited from Wigwam Acoustics becoming part of SSE and making d&b part of the rental company’s inventory. Both FOH engineer Oliver Hutchinson, and production manager Rob Highcroft are committed fans of d&b Audiotechnik’s J-Series.
Hutchinson explained the system setup, “I was involved with the design of this show from the outset. There’s a huge screen that meant the PA design became a priority. The hangs of J needed to interfere with the view of the screen as little as possible. I also wanted a lot of subs - low end is an important part of this band’s sound. Jack [Murphy, his system tech from Wigwam] has been brilliant, and the sub sound I want the audience to hear is available everywhere in the room. For me, d&b subs beat everything out there, hands-down, even the original side-fills for the band were B2s with Q-Series Tops.”
Jack Murphy first worked on a show with the band in 2015 at Alexandra Palace, which is where he began working alongside Oliver Hutchinson. For these show’s he had to rig the arrays unconventionally high and wide. “The fortunate thing is, because the screen is so wide we only play to a 180-degree audience, so we just need two hangs per side,” said Murphy. “If the upper bowl is very big I might put the J12s at the top of the off-stage hang, but otherwise we can concentrate energy on the main room.”
“Besides flying the mains higher and wider than would be normal for most arena shows, we also went to some trouble to conceal the subs at floor level. There are fourteen J-SUBs and eight J-Infras - the Js are two-high, with an Infra between, all hidden beneath a purpose-built, 8ft stage front section from LiteStructures that we carry for the tour. It also houses the pyro, but its main function is to conceal the subs. It’s slightly better for the audience in that the barrier can be that much closer to the front lip of the stage.”
“The array is delayed in an arc and I find the d&b subs’ pattern control is so good and the polar output is really smooth across all sub octave frequencies, that I’m easily able to keep things pretty flat and even right across the room.”
Since the band’s Albert Hall show in April 2016, Oliver Hutchinson has been using a DiGiCo SD7 console at Front of House. Hutchinson explained his approach to mixing the band, “It’s about keeping Oli Sykes’ voice where the band want it, which used to be slightly buried in the mix. The challenge now, really, is in the changing dynamic of the band’s musical styles. A good example is from Chelsea Smile to Follow You, where we go from two loud distorted guitars with lots of kick, to a more melodic piece with vocals. Sometimes there is too much to put into one song, so I’ll keep things clear, focusing on the hooks. I never go for the CD mix; I’m looking for something more dynamic than that. I just use a couple of Waves plug-ins and API2500 [compressor] on the guitars, and a CLA76 [compressor] for the snare; there’s nothing off-board. I like to use a sort of parallel form of compression - have all the drums to a group heavily compressed, then say, the snare to its own channel with a different compression, so I can take what I want without having to change compression settings. I use the same technique with the rest of the band.”
Jared Daly has been the band’s monitor engineer since early in 2014, when Oli Hutchinson moved from monitors to front of house.
Monitor duties are taken care of by an Allen and Heath dLive console. Jared commented, “Previously the band owned an iLive and they really liked the sound so the dLive was the obvious route to go down.” The whole band are now on In-Ear Monitors, with the only on stage sound now coming from side fills of two d&b J-Subs and a J8 cabinet per side. “This is Oli Sykes’ first tour using IEMs having previously used six d&b M4 monitors,” explained Jared. “It was so loud he used to feel nauseous, fortunately he decided to change before his hearing went!”
“To begin with we concentrated on giving him his vocals, but as his confidence in IEMs has grown, he now gets something close to a CD mix with all the band in there.”
“There is little live sound on stage, just the drums and they’re on a riser eight feet above the stage. The keys are at a similar height though they’re all DI’d. All the guitar cabs are below stage.” Olly Hutchinson added, “We gently pushed things away, we even have a cabinet in an iso’ box now.”
SSE Project Manager Pete Russell commented on the tour, "It was great to work with the BMTH team once again. I was involved in the design process from early on to ensure the system was as unobtrusive as possible, yet still delivered from an audio perspective. Oli was really pleased with the results and it's been well received by the media."
A review in The Independent (1 November 2016) of the show at the O2 on this tour went, “The sound was big, far bigger even than the enormous room . . .” How often do you see sound mentioned in the national press in anything other than derogatory terms?
System Tech: Jack Murphy
Monitor/Stage Tech: Glen Little
Monitor/Stage Tech: Stephen Mottram