FOH and Monitors engineers, Antony King and Nahuel Gutierrez, have used MIDAS consoles of varying shapes and sizes during the year-long world tour with Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. The pair kicked off the tour with a MIDAS PRO6 then picked up an XL8 for the arena leg and followed up by using a PRO2C for festivals.
For the past 12 months Gallagher and his band have performed to audiences at a plethora of venue types and sizes, from huge outdoor festivals and arenas to small theatres and events – at home and abroad.
King and Gutierrez’s mission – to ensure the quality of Noel’s distinctive sound remains the same for every gig. For them MIDAS offered the only solution as Gutierrez explains: “The High Flying Birds tour has demanded several different engineering approaches to make it work. We had PRO6s in every territory for the first three months of the tour. Then we came back to the UK and into the arenas and we changed over to the XL8, primarily because we needed a lot more channels. In America we chose to use a PRO2. That was principally so we could sync everything for the upcoming South American leg – we needed the smaller surface so it could be shipped out without too much cost. We then returned to the UK for the festival season. Because we had a really good time on the PRO2s we elected to use them all summer. Now we’re back to the XL8 for the final arena run with the choir.”
And, if you followed all that, Noel, High Flying Birds, King and Gutierrez have recently completed a short run in Asia, where they returned to using the lightweight PRO2s.
For respected FOH engineer King, a MIDAS user since 2008, it has been a clear-cut decision deciding which brand to pin his reputation on: “For me MIDAS consoles just sound better. There’s no way around it, whatever you do it sounds bigger – fatter. From the moment you turn the console on it’s a cleaner signal.”
Meanwhile, on monitors, Gutierrez has a similar view: “I love the warmth of the MIDAS sound, its distinctive. All digital desks work the same way; they convert signals and do some math to put them all together. It’s how MIDAS does that math that makes all the difference. You can push the MIDAS mix that little bit more.”
For King it’s all in the quality of the converters: “The point where the analogue signal comes into the desk and is converted to digital is crucial to the quality of the sound, this is where MIDAS technology excels. MIDAS has always had the edge on quality; it’s like mixing in HD! With other consoles, you haven’t got as much room in the signal to play with. As soon as I turn on the XL8 I have that much more space to move around in.”
Migrating between desks has actually proved less of a challenge than first anticipated, with King pointing out: “It takes five minutes to adjust the patching, but it’s basically the same set up. In rehearsals I started on the PRO6, scaled it up to an XL8 and then back again to a PRO2 for the festivals and we have moved relatively seamlessly between each one.”
Of course the tour has not been without its challenges, in particular dealing with a 26-piece choir for the UK arena leg. King explains why the XL8 was so important here: “I wanted to mic each member of the choir individually and give them each their own channel. Crucially the XL8 enables me to EQ each one separately.”
And both engineers are delighted with the layouts of the various MIDAS desks. Gutierrez admires the desks’ intuitive layouts and the way in which they seem to evoke an older era: “I don’t like consoles that rely on touch screens to navigate. I like knowing that one knob does one thing. I’m one of the last generations to have learned my craft on an analogue desk. MIDAS feels like analogue desks but carries all the advantages of a digital platform, and that’s another reason why I like it.”
It seems that both King and Gutierrez are more than happy with their chosen platform, which is just as well: the tour continues into Asia and back across Europe and America before culminating at the Shepherds Bush Empire on 13th November.