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Case Study: Jason Robert Brown, Cynthia Erivo and Alfie Boe - The London Palladium



Photos by Danny With a Camera


Lets Set The Scene

Patch were asked to return to the iconic London Palladium to Look after all things audio for a once in a life time performance with Jason Robert Brown, Cynthia Erivo and Alfie Boe. We provided Audio consoles, Mics, Monitoring and engineers, utilising the in house L-acoustics KARA system. The content was a mix of full on funk rock, big band style tunes, jazz, quiet Musical theatre and everything in between. How did we approach it?


The Setup

As has become standard for patch, both I at Foh and Kieran ( Mons ) opted for Allen and heath Dlive Consoles utilising a digital split over Giga Ace to share preamps. All inputs went into the FOH DM64 which were then tie lined to the Monitors DM32 meaning FOH controlled preamp gain ( unusual I know, but im a total control freak ). Giga ace also allowed us to pass comms and mixes to each other easily. At FOH I used an S7000 Surface whilst the compact C2500 was in monitor world feeding 8 on stage A&H ME1, 8 ways of IEM and 3 ways of our new d&b M4 Coax Monitors. though the Dlives dont feature group to group bussing, I cheat slightly by sending a group output to a channel allowing you to route that channel to another group at the cost of doubling the latency for that path. For the drums alone I had a snare group feeding a drum group and crush group, which both then fed a drum master group, in turn feeding the Band group combining with the other instrument groups. A Little time consuming to set up but the control and flexibility for different types of compression really makes it worth it.


Microphones

Piano

The most important step to achieving a great mix is microphone choice and placement, and this is something that we take a lot of time and thought to get right. The central component of this show is Jason's Grand piano, notoriously hard to get enough level whilst also sounding natural. I opted for a coincident pair of DPA 4099 in the bell of the piano to achieve the least amount of comb filtering reducing the need for extreme panning ensuring most of the audience can hear a similar tone. There were a couple of other mics on the piano that were utilised for monitors including a SM57 under neath for a woody but loud tone, another DPA 4099 with a guitar clip on the low strings, and a Beta 91 under the low strings for yet another flavour of low strings to achieve a natural sound for the IEMS. To maximise the integrity of the piano sound it was essential to screen off the drums and percussion using our Clearsonic Drum Shield which worked really well to avoid bleed into the piano mics.


Drums

Possibly my favourite subject... Drum Mics! I could go on for ever but I'll keep it short and sweet. Im normally one to have LOADS of mics for different flavours but I have been keeping it more simple , focussing on placement and really enjoying it:

The kick sound is mostly a DPA 4055 with a smidge of Beta91. I gate the 91 but not the 4055 which really helps when the content is so varied and dynamic

Snare was bog standard 57 Top 904 Bottom, 904 on toms

My trusty SE 4400A on overheads are proving really hard to beat, I make sure they are equidistant from the snare of course and they are placed higher than some wood but I find the sound of this really

Hat and Ride feature DPA 2012 Cardioid Condensers

The Drums sounded great, credit to Olly who A) is a fantastic player , but B) really knows how to tune his drums. They were tight but with lots of tone, which makes our job much easier, but really happy with how they sounded in the mix after going through the various groups and compressors in the desk.


Reeds and Brass

AKG C451 on reeds and flute, SM57 on Trumpet and Trombone


Vocals

Having seen pictures of Jason performing before I noticed that he often sings a little distant away from the mic which immediately led me to spec DPA D:facto for all lead vocals. They are so consistent at different distances which is absolutely essential for this show. You'll see in the pictures above Cynthia also pulls back a fair bit so the D:facto comes into its own at these points, theres nothing better as far as im concerned. We used Shure KSM9 for BVs. Shure axient Digital all round







How did it go?

The audience response to this show is quite hard to put into words, I can tell you there were 2 full standing ovations before the interval if that helps. There are theatre reviewers who can more accurately reflect on the performance, but this was one of the best shows I have been a part of, After each song I kept finding myself saying "wow" out load and the evening seemed to pass all too quickly. The show sounded absolutely fantastic with multiple members of the audience coming up and commenting on the sound, helped largely by the venue supplied System Tech Sergei who is a legend in his own right and a pleasure to work with. A particular highlight was "It Almost Felt Like Love".

Thank you to all the team at Lambert Jackson for having us back and looking after us, and the rest of The London Palladium who were friendly and accommodating as always.




Show Credits:



Production and tour Management: Jonny Dickie and Harry Picket for Ro'd Management



For Patch Productions:

FOH: Toby Chevis

Monitors : Kieran Powell

Patch: Andy Powell

Autocue / A3: Dom Trotta


Arranger: Adam Hoskins


LD: Joe Thomas for Studio Jet

Lighting Programmer: Mark Smith




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