While honing his mix in a world-class studio was a pleasure for Journey FOH engineer Jim Yakabuski, the experience presented an implicit challenge.
How do you take what you hear in a controlled studio and recreate the mix in a high-energy live concert environment, and deliver a consistent listening experience show after show despite the nightly variables?
In this Q&A, Yakabuski reviews the tools and techniques he employed to deliver a studio-quality experience for the live audience.
Q: Journey rehearsed in the closed environment of a studio.
From a mix perspective, how did those sessions help prepare for the live shows?
Yakabuski: The rehearsals took place in Fantasy studios, where Journey's Escape album was recorded and mixed.
Yakabuski: Many sound systems are far from "transparent" or "linear," but instead carry their own "signature" sonic qualities that are favored by some FOH engineers.
Much like Strat and Les Paul guitars each has its own individual qualities-with another level of difference when played through a Fender or Marshall amp-PA systems today still sound a little bit different from each other.
Therefore engineers have to creatively adopt their own methods to attain the desired result.
Q: How do FOH engineers and system techs handle sound systems that don't "translate"?
Yakabuski: When a sound system colors the sound of your mix in comparison to what's heard through quality headphones or studio monitors, we then have to alter how we tune and mix the system.
Yakabuski: Journey's music is very rich and complex with lots of layers of guitars, keyboards, and a solid foundation of drums and bass.
Jim Yakabuski with LEO
Q: What does the touring audio team do during setup of each show to make sure that the system translates?
Yakabuski: Careful system design and implementation.
Yakabuski: I've always been bothered by the huge lobe down the middle of the venue, and the null occurring slightly off center.
Yakabuski: Cardioid arrays are great for controlling side and rear sub energy.
Yakabuski: It still seems to be the "final frontier" of great audio.
There has been a renewed focus on cardioid sub arrays lately, which helps out hugely on stage, but the greater problem in my opinion is the large expanse of the audience and how to cover that area evenly with reduced lobe and null effects.
I'm hopeful that the entire audio industry will direct more effort to this so that the low-end experience will continue to rise for the audience and musicians.
With more than 25 years of touring experience as a systems tech and FOH engineer, Jim Yakabuski also has worked behind the board for Van Halen, Jon Secada, Ted Nugent, Engelbert Humperdinck, Whitesnake, Julio Iglesias, and Matchbox Twenty, among others.
www.van-halen.com - Road Diaries: A Day In the Life...
Jim Yakabuski is Van Halen's mighty sound engineer, and the man running the soundboard at every show on the III tour.If you've ever wondered what a typical day for him and the rest of the sound crew was like, wonder no more!
Instead, roll up your sleeves and get into the nitty gritty with Jim as he unfolds a typical day on the road, kindly illustrated here, in the second installment of the Road Diaries.
Jim Yakabuski and the entire Van Halen Audio Crew:
Jim Yakabuski worked as a Live Front of House Sound Engineer for seven years for Van Halen.He has also toured with Aerosmith, and most recently, Matchbox Twenty, and Avril Lavigne.You could say that Jim wrote the book on live sound - because he did!
Written by Evan Hall, Matt Peskie & Jim Yakabuski.
Throughout the run of the tour has been Jim Yakabuski, FOH engineer and LMG tour technician, Monitor Engineer Matt Peskie, and throughout the U.S. and European leg, Evan Hall, systems engineer and LMG audio technician.
Jim Yakabuski (FOH engineer) selected V-DOSC for the left and right main hangs after successful tours with Matchbox 20, Van Halen and many others.
Jim and I felt that spending more time on the tuning of the system than on sound check would pave the path to more consistent sounding shows.
I worked very hard to achieve the most flat response from 12 K to 100 Hz, and then a very gentle slope up in the extended sub region around the arena.
With this approach, Jim was able to do more mixing and much less input EQ to fix the system or room.
FOH Engineer Jim YakabuskiFOH Engineer Jim Yakabuski
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