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Yamaha is in the P!nk as PM1D gets the party started on world tour

May,2009

American songstress P!nk has recently embarked on a high profile world arena tour to promote her latest album Funhouse. And to make sure all the musicians and dancers have the best foldback sound, monitor engineer Horst Hartmann is manning a Yamaha PM1D.

Starting in March, the tour has already visited Europe and is currently in the midst of 16 UK and Ireland dates before heading off for a mammoth 60 shows in Australia. It will then come back to Europe, the UK and Ireland for a second round of gigs - with the ever-reliable PM1D at every one.

The PM1D was the first digital console that Horst learned and it remains his favourite, thanks to its combination of reliability, audio quality and user-friendliness.

“When I made the transition from using analogue consoles, I had all the usual doubts,” says Horst.

“So I approached Yamaha for some training and I found the transition very straightforward. I like the fact that it has enough physical controls, you’re not having to scroll through endless menu screens because you’ve got 200 channels but only 16 faders.”

Backing P!nk on the Funhouse tour is an eight piece band (drums, guitar, bass, violin, two keyboard players and two backing vocalists) plus a troupe of dancers. On top of that there is both the main stage and a B stage in the middle of the audience, with an ego ramp linking the two. So it’s a complex monitor setup.

“P!nk is using both wedges and in-ears because she prefers to only have one ear in, although I do her mix in stereo and put it on the matrix in mono, That way if, one day, she decides she wants to use both in-ears then it’s all ready,” says Horst.

“There are eight wedges for P!nk on the main stage and more on the B stage, plus sidefills for the dancers. It’s a very dynamic show and I have separate mixes in her in-ears and the wedges, I have to ride the faders for her mix throughout the show.

“The rest of the musicians have stereo in-ear mixes. I have to make occasional changes for them, but they’re not that drastic.”

The size of the elaborate set also means that Horst and all the backline techs are located offstage, which could mean communication problems. This is prevented by the techs also all being on in-ears, with Horst running a communication network via the PM1D.

“Each position has a switched talkback mic and I have a talkback DCA on a fader, so at soundcheck all the musicians can hear everybody, but in show mode only the techs can hear each other. It’s very easy to do and works fine, nobody has to run over to me or wave their arms to attract my attention if their musician wants a change to their mix, they just talk into their mic and it’s done.”

Because of the dynamic nature of the show, Horst programmes just two basic scenes at soundcheck each day - one for the P!nk set and one for the support band. From those, he and the support monitor engineer effectively mix in the old fashioned, analogue way, thanks to the PM1D’s complement of faders.

“Although I mix manually during the show, the fact that I can always instantly come back to my basic mix for each show is very good,” he notes. “And being able to do a scene for the support band of course means that we don’t have to carry a second console.”

With 110 inputs, 45 outputs and all the effects processing in use (no outboard of any kind is in the system rack), the PM1D is certainly being given a workout on this tour. And because of the length and intensity of it, Clair Brothers - the tour’s audio supplier - has provided two DSP units with the console, A and B, providing 100% redundancy just in case. Should there be any problem, Horst can instantly flip to the ‘B’ brain and the musicians wouldn’t notice there had been a problem.

“It’s there just as a backup,” Horst smiles. “We haven’t had to use it yet and, to be honest, I would be very surprised if we have to. The PM1D is incredibly reliable and the system is working absolutely fine.”

“The tour has been going fantastically well. Everything is working well, the vast majority of the dates are sold out. The performers are all very easy to work with, they’re completely professional and know exactly what they want. Together with using the PM1D, it makes my job very straightforward.”

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