Following the success of his MTV Unplugged special—nominated for five 2012 Latin Grammy Awards—Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes embarked on the Loud and Unplugged Tour for the greater part of 2012 with dates across the United States and Europe. The concerts echoed the intimate yet celebratory tone of the record, on which Juanes was joined by his Latin roots rock band, and guests including tropical music star (and the album’s producer) Juan Luis Guerra, as well as legendary Spanish balladeer Joaquin Sabina. 3G Productions, based in Las Vegas, NV handled the audio production for the completed tour and will be heading back out for U.S. dates in the spring of 2013. The band’s audio kit comprised a DiGiCo SD10 (with Waves SoundGrid bundle) and an SDRack via Optocore at FOH at the hands of engineer Jose Amable Frometa, with an additional SD10 and SDRack at monitor world operated by Anselmo Rota and systems engineer Jonathan Daly.
The group has used DiGiCo consoles on the last few tours and has been more than satisfied with the results. For this tour, 3G spec’d the SD10s over SD7s used on previous tours.
“Our preference was to go with an SD7 but the catalyst in our decision was primarily weight, size and performance requirements for the shows. We knew there was a good amount of travel, including air freight, and stops on the tour included numerous clubs in Europe. All in all, the SD10 was a perfect fit for this tour,” said Javier Curiel, owner of 3G.
For the 13-piece band, comprised of Juanes on guitar and vocals, with two additional guitarists (one playing six different instruments), bass, keyboards, two vocalists, drums, two percussion players, and a 3-piece horn section, FOH encompassed 68 inputs including FX returns, plus iPod, opening act mixer, and L&R. They’ve also got four AES outputs from the console feeding a Lake loudspeaker processor. Outputs include: Main L&R, mono subs, stereo front fill and another stereo out in case they want to control any other zone of the PA. The band carries the processor; racks and stacks are local.
“The SD10′s Dynamic Compression and EQ were my best allies on this tour,” says Frometa, who’d spent some hands-on time previously on a D5 with the Marc Anthony/JLo Tour in 2005. “There’s no other way I could have dealt with the dynamic range of the acoustic guitars going from a very soft to a very hard stroke. Smart Keys and Macros also helped me a great deal and I used macros for screen viewing, as we don’t carry an external monitor. I also love the graphic EQ insert in and outs, FXs on and off, and the delay taps, too. The only outboard gear we’re carrying is a Summit DCL200 compressor inserted in the main L&R output group. I’m really pleased with the sound and onboard features of the SD10 so I’m only using a few plug-ins from the Waves rack: Kick drum and bass get the MaxBass plug-in inserted. I’m also using the API compressor on the bass channel and the PuigChild 660 compressor on main vocal.
“Moving channels around helps me create groups,” he adds. “There is one in I called ‘Drive’ on this page where I have all the main outputs and inputs: L&R, B Master, L&R Recording Master, SUBS, Fills, Talk Back, Stereo input for opening act boards, Smaart output, etc. The page is a combination of Group, Matrix, Auxiliary and Input channels.”
The SD10 has helped Fromata [on right; pictured with Anselmo Rota and Jonathan Daly] reduce his EQing drastically to the point of applying only one notch and/or HI and LO pass filter in almost all input channels. “The dynamic EQ and compression features, plus the ability to insert graphics EQ on the fly, have helped me with the acoustic guitar and has prevented feedbacks from happening when the downstage left and right guitarists are too close to a stacked PA, which has been a common situation in this tour since we are playing small venues.”
He found the console’s sound quality to be unparalleled, and that compliment lends itself to the DiGiCo digital family. “I used an SD8 on the Juan Luis Guerra tour last year and since the very first day of rehearsals everybody was talking about the sound. On this tour, we’ve been getting great reviews and comments from the crowd, local promoters and local crews, too. I think the SD series is one of the best sounding digital boards available, and I’m very pleased with the depth and quality of the preamps.”
The SD10′s SD-Rack at monitors is fully loaded with analog in/outs typically run at 48 inputs with 44 outputs for 12 stereo wireless IEM mixes (Shure PSM900), five stereo hardwire IEM mixes (Shure P6HW), two d&b M2 wedge mixes (AES). “We’ve also got five stems to the drummer’s mixer and a few other outputs for talkback and shout, but on some special shows we used the full 56 plus talkback inputs,” says systems engineer Jonathan Daly, who did duty on SD7s at both the Montreux and North Sea Jazz festivals in 2009. “Our only outboard gear is a Summit DCL-200 and a Dolby Lake Processor at FOH, and everything in monitor world is done in the desk.”
Monitor mixer Anselmo Rota utilized everything onboard his SD10, which is more than sufficient for what he needs to handle the 22 channels of IEMs (16 stereo mixes and eight mono outputs for effects) for the band. “With multiband compressors and DiGiCo’s DiGiTuBes, I’m comfortable and it works very well. The SD10 is an excellent console in a convenience format. Actually, I’ve used other digital consoles, but the truth is none can compare with any DiGiCo model… It’s my favorite. My first was the D5 and I’ve used both the SD8 and SD7. On my next tour I hope to use the SD5!”
Fromata captures the bands’ performances nightly, recording 56 tracks at 24 bits 48kHz on a MacBook Pro using Reaper. The audio interface is the RME HPDSPe MADIFace with the Express PCI Card. “These multi-tracks are for the artist’s personal library but could eventually come out as a Live Album or DVD Audio. On another MacBook we record the L&R outputs from the board using Digital Performer 7 and a Sound Devices USB Pre, these recordings are used by the guys from the media department who record many of the shows using up to 6 GoPro Video cameras and get uploaded to the Internet as part of their promotional strategy.”