Duriel Mensah harnesses immersive KLANG mixes for Burna Boy’s stadium tour

Photo: Tosin Orojinmi, Doxa Studio

Monitor Engineer, Duriel Mensah brings immersive in-ear monitor mixing to the top afrofusion artist’s band. 

In July, the Grammy Award-winning singer Burna Boy became the first African artist to headline a US stadium concert. Playing massive venues around the world on his latest stadium tour, sonically reinforced by Solotech, who is supplying a DiGiCo Quantum338 and two Quantum7 mixing consoles, one of which is loaded with a DMI-KLANG module for immersive in-ear monitor mixing.

“Burna’s core band is called the Outsiders; it includes a drummer, bassist, guitarist, two keyboardists, and a saxophonist, and I mix each of their IEMs,” explained Duriel Mensah, who pilots a KLANG card-equipped Quantum7.

“I’m also mixing ears for the brass section — trumpet, trombone, and tenor sax—plus the front wedges and side-fills onstage. Joshua Adeyosoye, our other monitor engineer for Burna Boy is on another Quantum7. He’s responsible for mixing our three backing vocalists, a ten-piece choir, a very diverse percussion section that can have eight to ten people playing talking drums, omeles, marching band elements, and any additional guests that might join us for a particular show. It’s a very busy stage and Joshua and I work closely to keep everyone out there happy. It’s also a crazy amount of channels — there are approximately 120 lines coming off the stage — which is why we needed the Quantum7s.”

Although Mensah has been Burna Boy’s monitor engineer since 2019, when he mixed the artist at SSE Arena Wembley, that marks the first time that he has ever used KLANG’s immersive IEM mixing platform.

“The integration between KLANG and DiGiCo is flawless,” he enthused. “If I’m in someone’s mix and I want to bring the click up, I can do it through KLANG:app as well on the touchscreen, and it effects the fader on the console. It triggers a send on fader mode on my DiGiCo and I can see those changes happening. Also, on the DiGiCo, if I’m on the channel, I can click and see exactly where in the immersive field it’s panned to. That seamless integration of being able to move back and forth is just fantastic. And if the guys on stage tell me they need just a touch more of something, or want to move something around, I can very quickly do that for them on the touchscreen monitor using the KLANG:app.”

Mensah credited Burna Boy’s front-of-house engineer and production manager, Temidayo Oladehin, for his initial spark of interest in KLANG. “I must have first read about KLANG on an email, because I subscribe to just about anything subscribable when it comes to sound,” laughed Oladehin, who is mixing the show on a Quantum338. “I’m always trying to stay on top of what’s new. But one of the things that really drew me to KLANG was the information about how it gives you this perceived loudness of almost an extra 6dB. That was something that I found very appealing. If we can get people to hear themselves louder without having a negative impact on their hearing, that’s a great thing.”

Mensah appreciates that the KLANG system can cater to what Burna Boy and each band member want to hear in their in-ears: “A lot of our band guys are studio-based, so they’re used to producing music and want things to feel nice and wide and even in their ears,” he continued. “Our drummer, who is also our musical director, is a good example. He likes the brass to be panned out from left to right across the front of his mix, and everything be present and full. Some of the other elements, like choir tracks or click, I’ll tuck just behind his head a bit in the mix so they can be heard but aren’t a distraction, because as the MD, he needs to hear everything, including his own drums. I put his toms on the outer ring of the 3D tab, which gives just a little bit of a push imaging-wise. The toms literally feel like they’re sitting on top of my head when I listen to his mix, and the way that they pan is amazing.”

Mensah points out that KLANG has also been well received by Burna Boy himself: “We run a pair of ambience mics, especially for Burna’s mix, to keep him connected to the crowd and space,” he continued. “It’s been a journey to get him on in-ears over the past few years; he’s indicated that they don’t always feel natural, and he’s been prone to popping one or both of them out. But when we added the KLANG system in rehearsals, as soon as we threw up the ambience mics in his ears, we found that he’d leave his IEMs in all day, which was a great sign. It meant that everything just felt ‘real’ and he was enjoying himself. That was achieved with KLANG.”

Oladehin reveals a detail to Mensah about how things are going with the latest gear addition: “Duriel will be hearing this for the first time, but I recently did a review with the band, and coming from where we’ve been, the guys are very, very happy with their in-ear mixes,” he announced. “The impression that KLANG has made on the guys is amazing and it’s something that we always want to take on the road. They’ve been giving it such great reviews that we’re planning to soon add a second DMI-KLANG card to Joshua’s console so the rest of the performers onstage can be just as happy with what they’re hearing as well.”