SSL Live wins praise from Lorde tour
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The SSL L500 Plus that Harvey uses at FOH was supplied by Firehouse Productions based in Las Vegas and New York. "I love the sound of that desk so much," he says. "I went with the SSL because I knew that was where I'd be happiest with the fidelity."
Harvey uses the SuperAnalogue preamps in the SSL stageboxes, shared between FOH and monitors to bring pristine audio back to the console input channels. Much of the processing is done in-line in those channels using the SSL's internal FX rack and a Waves MultiRack system, with the addition of a few stem groups for specific FX. He then balances the mix on the console, sending the post-fader channel and stem outputs directly to the L-ISA system processor, which takes care of panning, depth, and associated processing. Harvey: "There's no bussing at the console, which has turned my 23 years of knowledge on its head!"
Harvey has been constantly experimenting with the system and the SSL console combination since the tour began, and notes that working this way has focussed a lot of attention on the sheer quality of the sources, the signal path, and the processing - rather than architectural and operational details. "The clarity I'm getting is magnificent," he says. "Early on we did a show at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles with lots of invited audience. After the show, everybody asked how we'd got such an amazing sound in the Staples Centre."
Lorde has a relatively straight forward vocal chain because, as Harvey explains: "She is a strong singer and delivers a lot to work with." After the SSL Stageboxes, she has the channel EQ and dynamics, including the SSL De-esser, then onto a couple of choice Waves plug-ins, before returning to the console ready for direct output to the L-ISA processor.
Harvey also makes use of console delays for instruments, drums, and vocals: "Really, the most important thing about the console is the way it sounds. The pre-amps, the dynamics, the EQ. I particularly love the tube emulation on the compressor, especially with drums... Using the slow attack and fast release with the tube button in really makes the drums sing."