Jeff Bridges is an Academy Award winning actor with a passion for music. A talented song-writer, Bridges tours with his group, “The Abiders”, named after a famous line in his movie, “The Big Lebowski”. The artist’s performances benefit from the efforts of his tour manager, Sven Holcomb and front-of-house (FOH) engineer Tyson Leonard and from a well-designed audio system using an Allen & Heath GLD-80 digital mixer and several ME-1 personal monitors.
Holcomb and Leonard had specified FOH and monitor mixers and monitor loudspeakers with a touring rider. However, Leonard says it took a lot of sound check time to get a good balance in the house and to dial in the monitors to everyone’s satisfaction. Holcomb commented, “We had two goals. We wanted Jeff’s performing experience to be flawless. And, we wanted to deal with the stage level which detracted from the mood of quiet songs and caused occasional feedback.”
To meet these goals, Tim McClelland of Pro Sound & Lighting in Portland, Oregon, recommended Allen & Heath’s GLD-80 digital mixer and ME-1 personal monitors. The GLD-80 would be small enough to travel in the band’s Sprinter Van or to take on fly dates yet it had plenty of inputs and all of the digital features they would need. The ME-1’s could provide individual monitor mixes using either in-ear monitors or stage monitor loudspeakers and would eliminate the need for a separate monitor engineer.
Each band member now has their own ME-1 including Holcomb who plays guitar. Bridges likes the ME-1’s ease-of-use and its tactile knobs and switches which he prefers to an iPad-based mixer. He chooses in-ear monitors or monitor loudspeakers based on the feel of the venue. Holcomb uses the ME-1 from his “guitar world” position to listen to the band and deal with any problems quickly. “With the stage volume down,” he says, “it really opened up what the band is able to do.”
Leonard, a “hands-on FOH engineer”, says the GLD-80 is extremely flexible and helps him mix the variety of music played by Bridges and his band. He assigns fader positions based on usage and uses soft buttons to activate mute groups. He uses layers for effects sends and returns; or he may dedicate an entire layer to a specific song. He tunes each show with the GLD’s extensive EQ and records via the mixer’s Dante card to his PC. Setups are easy with the GLD’s “virtual sound check” after connecting a single CAT5 cable from the Allen & Heath AR2412 AudioRack on the stage.
Leonard says the GLD-80 sounds great and was easy to learn. Holcomb added “the house engineers at some shows look at our setup and seem a bit skeptical. But, after they see the show, they’re amazed at what we’re doing!”