Entec Sound supplied audio for The Who’s two warm up dates prior to their hugely successful appearance at the Isle of Wight festival 2004.
The gigs — at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham and Cardiff International Arena, were both completely sold out.
Entec’s association with The Who dates back to 1969, when Who monitor guru Bob Pridden gave Dick Hayes, now Head of Sound at Entec, his first professional gig with the band.
The Who’s reputation as one of the loudest bands in the universe is legendary! Audio technology has moved on considerably since the 1960s, but their live show still sound every bit as raw, rocking and sonically energetic as they ever did — now mixed at FOH by Paul Ramsay.
The Entec system for the warm ups consisted of 30 d&b C4 top cabinets, 34 subs, 6 d&b C7s, eight B2 subs and 2 d&b Max’s, all run off a Midas XL4 at front-of house and XTA 224 and Klark Teknik DN360s for system processing and EQ.
Paul Ramsay has mixed the Who since the start of the year, adopting a loud-but-comfortable philosophy. “It’s very much a rock ’n’ roll show” he declares The band have also changed their own perceptions of loudness in the 21st century, still wanting oodles of pure dB power as well as getting the vocals up above the mix and clear for all to hear.
Ramsay’s mix is totally manual with no automation. “Most of the time they don’t rehearse, so I like to mix on the fly — it adds that extra sense of frission and improvisation to the show!” he declares. He says that because he essentially gets good sources off the stage, it’s actually quite easy to mix, even with the XL4 packed to capacity with 50 inputs, a busy show and multiple recordings in the background.
The substantial recording element of all live Who shows includes a multi-track record for the archives, and a two track recording for selling over the internet. Other recording formats also include DAT, CDR and mini disk — the latter being for Ramsay’s own reference. Ramsay used an XL88 Matrix Mixer to route all the different recording inputs.
Effects wise it’s relatively straightforward. He uses staples like an Eventide H3000 on Roger’s voice, a Lexicon PCM 91 for reverb and a TC D2 digital delay, also on his vocal, and it’s compressed with an Avalon VT 737.
He uses a whole channel strip of the VT737 for band parametric EQ and compression. He uses a TC M2000 stereo effects processor on the drums — one side on the snare and the other on the toms, and 8 channels of gates on the kit.
Entec supplied Avalon AD2044 stereo valve compressors which are used for Daltry and Townsend’s acoustic guitars. There’s also 6 channels of dbx 160s.
Entec also supplied a full selection of mics — Daltry and Townshend both use Shure SM58s — Daltry’s heavily custom gaffer-taped to withstand his trademark cord-whirling mic-acrobatics!
The FOH was looked after by Entec’s Richie Gibson, while Simon Higgs assisted Bob Pridden on monitors.
The monitor system featured 12 Entec APW wedges, four stacks of d&b C7 for side and rear fills, plus three d&b E3s and an E12 sub for the keyboard set up. Drummer Zak had 4 separate Thumper/shaker devices attached to his drum seat plus a C7 sub to ensure true seismic effects in the region. The others all used a mix of wedges and IEMs.
The monitor system features a high spec of effects & inserts. A pair of Rev 7’s & one Rev 5, a PCM60 & PCM70 make up the reverbs. Six channels of dbx RM160, a dbx 166XL and a pair of TLA100’s for the acoustic guitars completes the compressor department, and Drawmer gates over the drums take care of the processing.
The Who’s ongoing touring schedule includes Japan, Australia, Hawaii and then back to the US later in the summer.