Allen & Heath SQ-5 a Game Changer for EES and The Yes-Ja! Band

EES, aka Eric Sell, is a Namibian artist with German roots. Having released nine studio albums in Africa, EES and his backing band, The Yes-Ja! Band, rose to prominence in Germany after winning the X-Factor in 2018 with a blend of Kwaito, African House, Afro Pop and Afro-Reggae.

When The Game Changer Tour was announced for November 2021, the band's live sound engineer Florian Hackenberg-Keßler decided he needed something lightweight, portable, and quick to set up and pack down. Enter the 48-channel SQ-5, built on Allen & Heath’s XCVI 96kHz FPGA engine. And, with a comprehensive range of integrated processing tools and FX, Florian does not see the need to use any external processing. "I am super satisfied with everything the SQ-5 offers me. The compressors are great, and so are the reverbs," he says, "I use a lot of the ADT Doubler, it simply works well. Another plus is the low latency, and 96kHz operation. I use the USB interface at every show for multitrack recording. You don't get all of this anywhere else in this price range."

Although the SQ-5 is a relatively compact mixer, the 30 channels of the band are easily handled by the 17 faders of the SQ-5 according to Hackenberg-Keßler: "It works great because of the DCA spills. I get everything I need on one layer. It’s so flexible, you can layout the surface the way you want it so you don't need any more faders. Brilliant!"

For onstage I/O, two DX168 expanders are deployed with cabling kept to a minimum. "I daisy-chain the DX168s," he explains, "I always order CAT cables locally, but I carry one myself as a backup. But the SQ consoles are great, they’ve taken every cable I’ve tried without problems, it has always been plug-and-play. The two DX168s are permanently installed in a case with cable harnesses to the respective musicians.”

All six members of The Yes-Ja! band rely on IEMs for monitoring, and the introduction of the SQ-5 has allowed the musicians to control their monitor mixes via the SQ4You app for iOS and Android. "It works extremely well," notes Hackenberg-Keßler, "We had two rehearsal days and everyone quickly got into the groove, the app is very easy to use.

“To be honest, I'm always fascinated by this console: everything just works and it sounds great” he grins. “Allen & Heath has really made a mark with this thing.”