2009 has seen Razorlight circumnavigate the world three times, playing to many thousands of fans both indoors and outdoors. The band has been a significant presence on the global festival scene this summer but, before the festival season began, the band’s front of house engineer Ian Laughton decided to change his mixing console of choice - to a Yamaha PM5D
Knowing that they would be playing many different festivals in different countries and everywhere on the bill from headliners to mid-table, Ian and the band’s monitor engineer Phil McDaniel (who runs audio hire company Entertainment Sound Specialists with business partner Richard John) discussed what would be the best consoles for such a diverse set of circumstances.
“Phil is a longtime user of the Yamaha M7CL and we thought it would be a good idea to decide on our ‘desks of choice’ for the summer,” says Ian. “If the band were headlining or second on a bill, we’d take our own consoles, but further down the bill we’d be using what would be provided. We were after consistency, not having to keep changing consoles depending on what was available.”
Having done a short production tour using a PM5D provided by ESS earlier in the year, Ian took the decision to stay with the console.
“I was using a different digital console before, but there were significant advantages to using the PM5D,” he continues.
“Firstly, they’re available throughout the world. We’ve played everywhere from Sydney to Mexico, from Los Angeles to Tokyo to Wolverhampton - and there has always been PM5D waiting.
“Secondly, I really like the effects processing on it. I was brought up using the Yamaha SPX90 and I really like the sound of Yamaha processing. The compressors are really smooth, the reverbs and delays sound fantastic.
“Before, despite using a digital console, I’d be taking a rack with an Avalon preamp and compressor for Johnny Borrell’s lead vocal and other bits and pieces. What’s the point in taking out a digital console but still wanting to take a rack with various bits of outboard? The PM5D had everything I need.”
Ian is an aficionado of reggae and dub music, so wanting that big powerful sound is second nature. And his achieving that with the PM5D certainly seems to have got new Razorlight drummer David Sullivan-Kaplan’s live work with the band off to a good start.
“I’ve really nailed that big, fat analogue drum sound with the PM5D,” Ian laughs. “Earlier in the year I was mixing a live documentary with the band so I had to fly in with them at the last minute for a major show and couldn’t do a sound check. I asked the PA company to just load the show file for me, I’d do a quick line check and off we’d go. I arrived and they were literally amazed at the drum sound, they couldn’t believe I’d got it from a digital console.”
Of course another significant factor is reliability and it was Phil McDaniel’s experience with the M7CL which convinced Ian that the PM5D has what it takes.
“In all the years Phil has been using the M7CL, every channel has been in use and it’s all been in the red. It’s been round the world 20 times and it’s never caused a single problem,” he says. “That said a lot to me and, since I’ve been using it, the PM5D has never looked remotely like it’s going to crash.”
The console has also been used by Ian - highly successfully - in ongoing tests of Be-Station, an ingenious hardware and software solution which allows a digital console to be controlled wirelessly via a PDA or Smartphone.
“Yamaha is one of the first console types that Be-Station has been developed to control and we’ve been getting great results,” he adds.
“I have other manufacturers asking me to try their products, but the PM5D is doing exactly what I want it to. It really has got me converted, so why should I use something else?”