Having started at the Manchester Arena and included six dates at London’s O2, Drake’s Assassination Vacation tour of Europe saw DiGiCo take the mixing duties while providing a proving ground for the Sennheiser evolution wireless G4 in-ear monitor system that joined his Digital 9000 Series microphones purchased in 2015.

DrakeThe tour, surpassed all expectations with the best in audiovisual technology, including DiGiCo’s latest, most powerful iteration of its flagship console, the SD7 Quantum, at front of house and an SD5 at monitors, both supplied by Eighth Day Sound.

Over the past decade, the Canadian rapper has achieved superstar status with his fusion of rap, pop and Jamaican dancehall, and high-energy performances akin to those of an Olympic athlete. This, combined with the show’s high production values and innovative use of technology (for a couple of numbers, a cloud of miniature drones lit up the auditorium), delivered a truly exceptional show that has delighted his fans.

With each successive tour, Drake’s show as grown both in terms of his performance and its production values. To accommodate this, the team has continually refined the technological infrastructure, to ensure continually spectacular results. DiGiCo is an essential part of this, and the SD7 Quantum has provided Front of House engineer Demetrius Moore with a significant increase in capacity but a consistent workflow.

FOH Demetrius Moore has worked with the artist since he first appeared on Lil Wayne’s I Am Music tour in 2009, with monitor engineer Sean Sturge joining the team in 2013.

‘DiGiCo has always been my console of choice,’ Moore says. ‘We upgraded to the Quantum engine for this tour mainly because I needed more for digital outboard effects and multitrack recording and the Madi capabilities [the system allows for eight Madi interfaces] allows me to do that. I use absolutely everything on the board; Multiband Compressor, Desser, Dynamic EQ, snapshots, Midi, time code, macros. I can’t say there is a function, besides GPO, that I don’t use.’

DiGiCo’s SD7 Quantum at FOH

At monitors, Sturge made equally good use of his SD5, with its capacity and the ability to pre-mute vocals enabling him to account for any guest performers invited to be part of the show. He has also added a 32-Bit Mic Pre-Amp card to his set-up which, he reports, has made a noticeable difference to the consoles’ sound quality.

‘DiGiCo has always supported me,’ says More. ‘About five years ago, I called and told them I needed a rack mounted MGB. I sent my two in and they custom made me a rack mount MBG.’

This has evolved and been released this year as the DiGiGrid MGR, which can be used for recording and virtual playback. ‘It’s that sort of collaboration that sets them apart,’ Moore concludes. ‘And it is a big part of why we keep on using DiGiCo.’

Both Moore and Sturge have used Sennheiser equipment consistently throughout his career… ‘apart from one time when we went to a popular TV show and the product they were using was from another manufacturer,’ recalls Sturge. ‘Drake hated it, so we stick with Sennheiser.’

Initially opting for a combination of an SKM 5200 transmitter with an ME 5005 capsule and more recently its flagship Digital 9000 series. Moore explains that the move to Digital 9000, which was made in 2015, was ‘to keep up with the manufacturer’s technology as it grows and develops’, allowing them to be certain they are delivering the best possible audio for the show.

‘The quality of the Digital 9000 Series means that we know we will have a stable microphone throughout the whole show,’ Moore reports. ‘We’ve never had any dropouts and we’ve never had to switch to the spare. Drake performs out in front of the PA a lot of the time and the 9000 Series can easily handle that. Its tight pattern allows him to be heard at high quality all the time.’

Sean Sturge ‘We’ve also recently added 12 channels of Sennheiser G4 on IEMs,’ adds Sturge. ‘I’ve found they make it very easy to reproduce the sound that Drake likes to hear. Being able to work at a very high SPL input and output is key. At this point, I don’t think there is an IEM on the market that can handle the high SPL the G4 belt packs can achieve.’

The Drake camp appreciates the service the company offers: ‘Sennheiser is quick to respond if I need anything,’ says Moore. ‘They’re always on the end of the phone or email.’

Sturge, on the other hand, has not required any assistance. ‘But my tech Noah Gary reached out to them for support on his Bluetooth Momentum headphones,’ he smiles. ‘And they were great. That’s what it’s all about.’

‘Ensuring we help our customers get the very best out of Sennheiser products is an essential part of our service,’ says Pierre Morant, head of Artist Relations at Sennheiser. ‘We are both delighted and honoured to have been supporting Drake and his team for the past decade.’

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Fast-and-Wide.com An independent news site and blog for professional audio and related businesses, Fast-and-Wide.com provides a platform for discussion and information exchange in one of the world's fastest-moving technology-based industries.
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