As Scottish rock band Simple Minds embarks on its 47-date Acoustic Live tour of the UK and Europe, Front of House engineer Olivier (Gégé’) Gérard has completely re-worked his live microphone list to capture the acoustic essence of these concerts.
At the heart of the new set-up are a selection of DPA d:screet Miniature, d:dicate Recording, d:facto Vocal and d:vote Instrument microphones, each chosen for their audio quality and natural, transparent sound. The fact that they also have great resistance to ‘spill’ and translate so well in the final mix is, said Gérard, a major bonus.
“I’ve been working with Simple Minds since 2012, but this tour is different because the band is playing in an acoustic style,” Gérard explained. “They have worked with the concept and have delivered new life into the songs included on Acoustic, their most recent album. It’s a new energy and a new experience through songs that were worldwide hits when they were originally released. Therefore, from a live point of view, it is quite a challenge.”
To meet this challenge, Gérard decided to stick with the sound of the album which he described as ‘much more roots and raw’. He needed microphones that could capture the detail and nuances of an acoustic performance so he turned to DPA’s Belgium distributor Amptec – a company he holds in high regard thanks to their extensive product knowledge – for help and advice.
“Amptec’s Pro Audio Sales Manager, Dany Meeuwissen, suggested I try DPA microphones some years ago, but I was in the middle of a tour and I didn’t want to change the mics at that stage because it can have an impact on the monitoring – it is very easy to get the routing out of balance just by changing one small thing,”Gérard said. “However, on this occasion I got Dany to look at my patch and he proposed micing the whole percussion set with DPA. I went for it because I know DPA microphones sound great and because I was going for inconspicuous microphones to complete the idea of the ‘Acoustic’ concept. I also needed superior sound and high SPL handling, which DPA was able to deliver.”
The percussion line up now includes five d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones on toms, hi-hat, snare bottom, chimes and bells; a d:screet 4061 Miniature Omnidirectional Microphone on the Cajón; a d:dicate 2011A Twin Diaphragm Cardioid Microphone on the bass drum and six d:dicate 2011C Compact Cardioid Microphones on the two snares, underheads and gong.
“The first thing that drew my attention was the lack of spill,” Gérard said. “With other microphones I’ve tried, the more mics you open together the more mid-high harshness you get in the mix. When I opened all the DPA percussion mics together, everything was there – I didn’t have to incorporate any EQ because I could clearly hear the source of the sound.”
Gérard is also using four d:facto Vocal Microphones – two wireless and two wired – for backing and guest vocalists. These include Sarah Brown, who has previously worked as a backing singer for Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, George Michael and Simply Red.
“The d:facto is absolutely great for her because she has very wide range and diversity in her sound,” he explained. “Most microphones would be great when she is giving it, but I would have had to jump on the Highpass when she became smoother and warmer. With the d:facto, the sound stands in the mix as naturally as the rest of the DPAs.”
Although this is the first time Gérard has used DPA microphones for percussion, he is actually no stranger to the brand and has been using d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones on strings for years.
The Simple Minds Acoustic Live tour is currently making its way around Europe and will reach the UK on May 17th. Summing up his experience with DPA, Gérard said: “I am more than happy with the quality and the results. The d:dicate 2011C Microphone is amazing – the best snare mic ever, even for loud bands – while the 2011A on the kick drum is great because of its natural sound. Having DPA for the whole percussion set and the vocals helps with the legendary spill because it is no longer a problem leaving some channels open.”