Engineer Profile – Ian Barfoot
Renowned as the long-serving FOH engineer for Rick Wakeman, and the ‘go to’ man for orchestral mixing, Allen & Heath talks to sound engineer, Ian Barfoot.
How did you get started in the industry?
Like lots of others, I started messing around in school bands and soon discovered my playing was pretty rubbish but I seemed to have the ability to mix the band, normally on various small homemade mixers and the likes of the WEM Reverbmaster. I did a bit of work in the local theatre on a casual basis, and freelancing with a location recording company doing mostly brass band and choir recording, with some orchestral stuff thrown in. I preferred the orchestral stuff but I really wanted to get into live work.
What tours have you worked on?
I have never been a regular touring engineer but I have been FOH engineer for Rick Wakeman for a very long time, which has taken me to a lot of places. We do anything from solo piano gigs through to the full orchestra, choir and rock band. It’s the usual progressive rock extravaganza!
I seem to have carved a bit of reputation as being a safe pair of hands either doing FOH on classical events or mixing stems for others. This has included working with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on productions such as The Who’s Classic Quadrophenia, and most recently, Procal Harum’s 50th anniversary of Whiter Shade of Pale gig.
How did you first hear about Allen & Heath?
Allen and Heath came on my radar many years ago in the late 70's and during the 90s I used its small GL series mixers. I always liked the mic amps and the very smooth EQ.
What’s your mixer of choice and why?
Most of my current work is large scale orchestral productions, so high channel counts and good clean mic amps are super important. I am in the process of migrating from iLive to dLive, which has been a revelation. The highly detailed sound of the mic amp, along with very low latency make it an ideal choice for me. If you add in the stunning, native onboard dynamic and FX packages then it becomes a no brainer. I like the assignable surface layout, which means I have things where I want them not where someone else decides. The fact that the R&D team listen to engineers that use the product is refreshing, and I think this has been a great strength in the development of iLive , GLD and now the dLive.
How do you see the future of live sound changing?
Expectations from the audience is rising as budgets for all but the very high end shows are falling. However, technology is much more widely available to everyone, so I think better education and skill sets will be the key to professional engineers in the future.
I am a firm believer in quality products, designed and built to do the job well, rather than the cheapest you can be, which in my experience never works