At the risk of being the messenger who gets shot, this article is about a cold, ...
Hitting 20 US cities in a month, the recent Make A Difference Tour 2010
featured Grammy-winning Christian recording artists TobyMac, Michael W.
Smith and Third Day along with best-selling author Max Lucado. To ensure
both sonic accuracy and fast changes between acts, all bands shared a
single FOH console, the Midas PRO6 digital mixing system.Front of house engineers for the tour were Ryan Lampa and Dave
Jacques. Nashville-based Lampa mixed TobyMac and also acted as tour
manager and production manager, roles he has filled for the past six
years with the band. Dave Jacques handled the mixing duties for both
Michael W. Smith and his long-time client Third Day. Jacques is also
head of application support for National Audio Systems, a major pro
audio supplier in his native Australia where his first used Midas
Both Jacques and Lampa are longtime Midas users, with a preference for
the XL4. This was the first tour for both engineers with the PRO6, which
was selected for its combination of analog sound quality and full
digital functionality. "It took me about a day of mixing at rehearsals
to get acclimated, just to feel comfortable that I could find
everything, understand the patching, that kind of thing,"reports Lampa.
"After that, it was off to the races."
Jacques required even less time on the learning curve. "I've always been
a Midas guy,"he says. "Fortunately, I'd done a show with the XL8, so I
was pretty much feeling right at home within 10 minutes. I took to the
PRO6 like a duck to water. The layout and workflow makes sense to me. It
follows how I mix rather than forcing me to operate within a set
surface."Both engineers were enthused about the layout and functionality
of the PRO6, which offers an independent Area B that enables two-person
operation. Combined with the desk's snapshot automation, this is perfect
for making quick, seamless transitions between acts. "It was a two-stage
show, and for that we needed Area B," explains Jacques. "The moment
TobyMac says 'good night' on the main stage, we would go to the B stage
for an acoustic set with Michael W. Smith and Mac Powell from Third Day
while the main stage is reset. There's no break at all. The second
operating zone on the console allows instant transition between two
engineers, two stages, and two bands."
"We used the automation to change setup between bands, with a different
scene for each act," adds Lampa. "I also use automation cues to recall
effects settings - very convenient."
Both engineers use traditional VCA-based mixing techniques, but also
made extensive use of the PRO6's POPulation Groups, allowing them to
create one-touch access to six additional input groups. Ryan Lampa used
VCA groupings as POP Groups, with a 'money' page for lead vocals/vocal
effects, along with Groups for intro, outro, acoustic instruments and
Like Lampa, Dave Jacques has a POP Group for vocals and vocal effects.
But with his separate needs and mixing style, his other POP Group
choices were quite different. "I have an 'on the fly' POP group where I
drop in channels, returns FX, etc. to avoid the need to page through
inputs for various changes," he notes. "I can jump from Guitar Solo to
Keys Solo to Vocal Delay to Snare Reverb all in a matter of seconds."
Jacques has another innovative POP Group application that is actually
more visual than sonic in nature. "I have one POP Group that throws the
click track to Area B," he explains. "That way, I can see the tempo on
the metering and tap in delays during the count-in before the song
Of course, for veterans of Midas analog mixing, the real test of the
PRO6 was how it measured up in sound quality. Ryan Lampa says that Midas
Digital "absolutely measured up to my expectations. I loved the dynamics
and warmth of the console, and the way you can really push the preamps
aggressively. I really enjoyed the feel of the PRO6 as well, like the
fact that when you touch a knob, the screen highlights that parameter.
The knobs were responsive to minute changes, and I never experienced any
latency. This is a great console."
Dave Jacques agrees. "I knew it was a great-sounding console, but using
it with the same bands in venues I've played before, I was seriously
impressed," he states. "I had really high expectations from working with
Midas analog all these years, but I have nothing but great things to say
about the PRO6. The EQ just sounds awesome, and I always found something
I liked in the onboard dynamics. I found that I didn't have to work hard
to make things sound good. It sounded every bit as big and warm as I
could have imagined."