When in 2008 Iron Maiden decided to charter a Boeing 757 and have it specially converted to carry equipment for their latest tour, weight loading & size suddenly became a real issue.
With lead singer Bruce Dickinson set to pilot the plane himself, long serving sound engineer Doug Hall knew that his days of carrying hefty analogue real estate were behind him, and moved up to the Soundcraft Vi digital platform. “We had all the critical stuff on the flight but the 350kg of analogue desk wouldn’t fit,” he recalls.
This month they successfully completed Maiden’s Final Frontier world tour, which started in February having provided sound reinforcement for the summer festival season followed by UK arena dates, culminating in two nights at the O2 Arena.
The sound engineer has never looked back since first being introduced to the Vi6. In fact Soundcraft devotees were out in force on the tour as a second ML Executives Vi6 was also on duty at the O2 for support band Dragonforce’s FOH engineer Alan ‘Doof’ McCann. Another seasoned exponent of the desk, Doof has been out this year with a Soundcraft Vi1 on Bullet for My Valentine, but is equally known for his work with Lostprophets.
ML’s second Vi6 was also used by Mark Stickland from Airbourne and Brian Griffin from Trivium, the other support acts on the UK leg of the tour.
As for Iron Maiden, Gary Marks’ company has now been servicing the British metal veterans for the past ten of their 36 years on the road, while Hall has been with them since 1979.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he has worked extensively in the high octane genre, with bands such as Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.
Both he and his systems engineer, Mike Hackman, agree that it’s the ergonomics of the Vi6 that make it an easy platform to learn on. “It’s nicely laid out and you don’t have to jump around layers too much,” says Hall. “The channel strip starts and ends in the same place. The faders ‘feel’ analogue and the Score engine is extremely fast — well under 2 milliseconds no matter what you ask; it’s very phase coherent and very musical.
“With the new V4 software I particularly like the user defined layers. You can drop VCA’s in wherever you want and still use the same output. The de-esser is brilliant and the compressor works well.”
Hall’s counterpart on monitors for the tour was Steve ‘Gonzo’ Smith who will be using a Vi6 for the monitors in the future, while other members of the Iron Maiden sound crew included Ian ‘Squid’ Walsh (monitor tech), Pat Fisher and Richard Trow (line array techs), while production manager was Patrick Ledwith.
All Soundcraft consoles are supplied domestically by exclusive UK and Ireland distributors, Sound Technology Ltd.
For more information please contact Soundcraft’s UK/ROI distributor Sound Technology Ltd on 01462 480000 or visit www.soundtech.co.uk/soundcraft