Kicking off in Istanbul at the beginning of August 2022, taking in a series of festivals in South America, on to Australia and the Far East, travelling through Europe, then a UK stadium tour, and finishing in Dublin in October, Arctic Monkeys The Car tour has been delighting fans with its blend of new material and classic favourites. The band’s long-time engineers, Will Doyle and Matthew Kettle, have relied on DiGiCo consoles, provided by Solotech, to deliver premium sound at both the monitor and front of house positions for many years. Continuing their ethos of providing an exceptional audio experience, this time they have opted for the latest DiGiCo Quantum consoles along with a DMI-KLANG for immersive in-ear monitoring.
Racking up a remarkable combined tenure of 31 years with the band, with Doyle taking on the role of Monitor Engineer in 2006, with Kettle joining as FOH Engineer in 2009. Both are experienced DiGiCo users, with Doyle opting for a Quantum 338, and Kettle utilising a Quantum 5 for the latest tour.
“I first made the switch to DiGiCo for Arctic Monkeys in 2012, and I’ve been using their consoles almost exclusively for nearly all my clients since then,” says Kettle. “I find it to be a very quick, powerful, and extremely flexible platform, which I believe greatly contributes to achieving the best sounding shows possible. Over the years, I’ve increasingly utilised the workflow flexibility, which has truly become second nature to me. It never gets in the way of what I’m trying to do and always sounds great. And the level of support and communication from the DiGiCo team is completely unmatched, not only in this industry but any other. Nobody even comes close.”
Doyle considers himself a relative “latecomer to the DiGiCo party,” stating that he switched from his previous desk of choice in 2017, discovered Relative Group Update Mode and Macro functions, and “hasn’t looked back since!” Doyle regards the Quantum 338 as the perfect console for the current tour for numerous reasons, not least its exceptional sound quality. “I like to use the Aux to Faders panel to select my outputs, freeing up the centre section and giving me more inputs at my disposal. Having the channel processing controls on the centre screen has significantly increased its versatility for me,” he adds.
Doyle notes that using compression sparingly on monitors allows the musicians to hear as true a representation as possible of their performances, with the Quantum’s ability to select the Aux send point enabling him to control any unexpected volume increases for the rest of the band while leaving it unaffected for the individual player. “And, as anyone who has used a Quantum will tell you, it’s truly wonderful being able to see the screens clearly in daylight,” he notes.
Doyle’s monitor setup includes 60 inputs from the stage distributed across two shared SD Racks. “This goes up to about 86 inputs with all the shouts, effects, ambients, intros, and other elements,” he explains. “Not all of them are used simultaneously, as the band moves around and swaps instruments, so I’m making the most of the Snapshot automation. We have 12 in-ear mixes and six wedge sends, along with a few spares.”
At FOH, Kettle has approximately 80 inputs, with 60 originating from the band and the remaining comprising utility items such as audience mics. “I’m pleased to say that every sound you hear during an Arctic Monkeys performance is played live by a real person, using a real instrument, which is somewhat unusual these days,” he says.
Whilst there have not been any major challenges from the previous tour, Kettle emphasizes that Arctic Monkeys’ sound is deeply rooted in classic vintage tones, and Mustard processing has proved valuable in bringing that distinct and unique sound to life. Kettle agrees, stating that Mustard’s ability to integrate modelled classic compressors and EQ onboard significantly reduces the need for third-party tools to achieve specific tonal characteristics. He also appreciates the True Solo function, saying, “I have a sense these features are only the beginning, which fills me with excitement and anticipation for DiGiCo to unlock even more of the potential the technology has to offer.”
Doyle had used KLANG for the first time on a lower input show and realised it would be perfect for Arctic Monkeys as the show has lots of mono signals that occupy a similar frequency range. “I’m using the DMI-KLANG, which does wonders separating everything out, leaving room in the middle for whatever the main focus of the mix is. It gives a real sense of space where you can place things in their actual onstage orientation,” he explains. “Placing sounds around the listener makes everything seem less crowded and it’s easier to discern different instruments and lower the overall volume needed to pick things out. It also lets you bring up other sources that might otherwise make things a bit congested in a normal mix. For example, a particularly full keyboard patch might normally overwhelm a mix, but can give everything a bit more vibe when kept slightly more distant with KLANG. Additionally, for the few individuals not using KLANG, Nodal processing is proving to be a great tool for achieving personalised sound.”
Once set up, Doyle finds it simple to adjust either on the touch screen, which gives him a great visual aid for where objects are placed, or on the console itself, highlighting that it is very well integrated into the DiGiCo software. “It plays nicely with the Snapshot system too, so it’s easy to programme things back to the middle when a musician swaps instruments,” he adds. “Another great application of KLANG is the remote control side of things. With an access point attached, our backline team can control their own mixes on their phones or tablets. Not only can they adjust their mixes to taste independently of me (using either user defined groups, or single channels), but they can also solo individual channels direct to their mix, again completely independently of what the console solo bus is doing. It’s made chasing faults a much more streamlined affair.”
For Doyle, the shift from the previous DiGiCo ecosystem to the Quantum consoles was easy. “You feel right at home straight away, just with a few more tools at your disposal,” he concludes. And, with The Car achieving massive success and hailed as “a swashbuckling, strings-fuelled epic” by the NME, it seems certain the quality of the audio is not in question.”
Maria Fiorellino at DiGiCo
Tel: +44 1372 845600
Sarah James at Gasoline Media
Tel: +44 1483 223333
You feel right at home straight away
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