Adele and DiGiCo Say Hello to Las Vegas

Monitor engineer Joe Campbell at the DiGiCo Quantum7 monitor desk.

Weekends With Adele, her residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, which comprises a five-month series of weekend-night shows between November 18, 2022 and March 25 of this year, is but the next step in a singular career. But it’s a momentous one, presenting Adele in an immersive-audio environment for the first time, and DiGiCo—in the form of two Quantum7 consoles supplied by Brit Row/Clair Global—are there with her to assure a fantastic and flawless show.

“In true Vegas style, it’s a big show” said Dave Bracey, who has worked and toured with Adele for much of the last ten years, after stints with Depeche Mode and the Cure in the 1990s, and later with Robbie Williams, Björk, Massive Attack, and P!NK, among others. Ten weeks into the weekends-only schedule they haven’t yet had to move out to let the venue be used by another production during their breaks, but he estimates that it will be at least a four-day affair when that time does come. “It’s Vegas, so it has to be more magnificent than the other shows, right?” he says. “The Quantum7 lets me handle it all without a problem.”

“It’s so easy to create an elegant workflow on this console, which lets you concentrate fully on the mix,” he said. “I make good use of the Mustard parallel compression I’m using on her vocal and the FET Compressor on the bass, for instance. The Spice Rack also has some very nice tools, such as the dynamic EQ that I apply to her vocal. But what’s amazing is that anything I’m using is with a very light touch; if you were to look, for instance, at the channel EQ on the screen, you’d have to squint to see any deviation from flat. That’s how good the vocal chain in the console itself sounds.”

The production’s use of immersive L-ISA technology from L-Acoustics is helping that too. Bracey says that the infinitely variable image the loudspeaker system delivers across the stage means he can keep Adele’s voice very much in a place of its own in the soundstage, lessening the need for processing. But when it’s called for, the Quantum7 delivers.

“I’ve barely mixed on anything other than DiGiCo since I first used a D5 in 2002, but the Quantum software is just wonderful,” he said, adding that he first used the Quantum7 during P!NK’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour. “But the new software takes it even further. I’m looking forward to diving in even deeper during this residency.”

In monitor world, monitor engineer Joe Campbell, who has worked with Adele for a dozen years, as well as stints with Seal, Ellie Goulding, and One Direction’s Niall Horan, was also pleased to have the Quantum7 in front of him again. “I’ve been using the SD7 for years, and I went with the Quantum upgrade as soon as it came out,” he says. “It’s just a natural progression.”

Campbell cites the console’s routing and work surface flexibility, but emphasizes that it’s the Mustard processing that’s become particularly useful for him. “Especially the Mustard optical compressor, which I find I’m using all the time, on vocals especially,” he says. “This console allows me access to parallel compression on every input and output channel. What that can do for dynamics is amazing.”

While he’s using the Quantum7’s onboard processing, such as reverb and dynamic EQ, for virtually every channel, Campbell still brings his favorite outboard pieces—four Bricasti Design Model 7 stereo reverb processors—with him, for use on vocals and acoustic guitars. “It’s easy to integrate external processors into the Quantum7, just like it’s easy to do almost anything on this console,” he says. “If someone on stage wants an extra mix and wants it now, I can do it. There is nothing else like the Quantum out there.”

Like Bracey, Campbell sings the praises of the Quantum7’s sonics, which, they will both tell you, let Adele’s vocals do what they’ve done so well. “I’ve got virtually no EQ on her vocal in the monitor mix for her IEMs,” he said. “She sounds fantastic, and the Quantum7 doesn’t put anything between her and the monitors. It’s about as transparent as it gets.”