Known for their social media audience and energetic live shows, US pop/rock band Against the Current has headlined four world tours, playing venues from clubs to the main stages of Reading, Leeds and Rock am Ring. Currently on a 2021-2022 tour of North America and Europe, they have engineer Lloyd Williams (The Fray, Trixie Mattel) handling the FOH mix with a Waves eMotion LV1 Live Mixer.

Like other touring artists dealing with diverse venues and current travel constraints, Williams and the band faced the choice of compromising on travel logistics and costs or on sound?

Lloyd Williams, pictured with Waves eMotion LV1 Live Mixer set-up ‘This tour was all flights, so I was prepared to run FOH as many would using venue consoles,’ Williams says. ‘Against the Current are passionate about quality sound, though, so after discussing the possibilities with guitarist Dan Gow, we had the idea of investing in a flyable, low-weight FOH system – one that would deliver the quality and consistency the band is used to when touring by bus, where we were always able to transport a large console and space wasn’t an issue. That’s when the Waves eMotion LV1 mixer came up.

‘We knew it was small and portable, and could run all the Waves plug-ins that I’ve been using across various consoles over the past ten years. So we made the jump, with very little time to spare. We were then happy to find that eMotion LV1 made everything sound natural, warm and clean –no other way to describe it.

‘With the same inputs I’m used to hearing, on mics and DIs that I know like the back of my hand – I was very impressed by how good everything sounded from the get-go, even before adding plug-ins. So much of why I rave about this system, I literally learned while I was using the LV1 for the first time in a show. FOH set-up takes three minutes, running a snake takes ten, and the mixer’s connectivity is extremely straightforward, regardless of my I/O choices. Add to that the mixer’s extremely intuitive graphic interface, and the instant integration of plug-ins and I couldn’t be happier.’

Williams’ current set-up includes 32 inputs from stage and four inputs from FOH. His eMotion LV1 64-channel mixer software runs on a Waves Axis One computer, with tactile control provided by a Waves FIT hardware controller. Plug-in processing is handled by a Waves Extreme SoundGrid server. His LV1-compatible stageboxes are a SoundStudio STG-2412 and two DSPro StageGrid 1000s, one on stage and one for FOH local inputs. All hardware is racked in custom cases from Circle Three Designs.

‘The way I see it, with today’s digital live audio technology, everyone should be able to virtual soundcheck with ease,’ Williams says. ‘With LV1, it’s just a single Cat5e to USB-C from the switch to laptop, opening the DAW and hitting play or record. The LV1 master input allows me to switch between live and virtual at a single hit of a button – a game changer for simpler workflow. Most important is that now I have the ability to work on my show file at home between tours. I can easily set up the console on my home office desk, plug it in and get to work from tour recordings without having to rent a console or needing huge amounts of rehearsal time before the next show.’

Williams’ favourite plug-ins to use within eMotion LV1 include Waves SSL and API processors: ‘My first plug-in on drums is always the API 2500, which I use adaptively, depending on how much breathing room I feel the PA has on the Master LR and on the snare top. I use high-ratio compression, varying based on the drummer’s playing strength. I also use the Waves F6 Dynamic EQ on everything. It’s the only EQ I use, and I insert it on every single input. The F6’s real-time analyser is extremely accurate and feels very tight in terms of how responsive it is.

‘To further shape the drums, I use the Torque drum tuning plug-in, especially on snare. The ability to fine-tune a drum’s sound without having to turn a lug has been irreplaceable to me – a huge time-saver. I also have the Waves InPhase plug-in on my kick in and out mics, on the snare top and bottom, as well as on bass DI and the bass mic. In the past I used outboard on tours – the Radial Phazer Phase Adjuster – and Waves InPhase unit is just that as a plug-in, but with the added benefit of visual waveforms for finer alignment. It’s witchcraft, much like Torque.’

Capping off William’ Top 5 is the Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor: ‘I insert one on every single group in my mix, and sometimes directly on the vocal chain as well, depending on the vocalist – a seemingly unique choice that I stand by. I absolutely love this compressor.’

‘The fact I can fine-tune a snare within moments, get the correct phase of kick drum mics, and quickly grab these functions with a tap of the screen – this makes the LV1 a great solution, especially considering how long load-ins are a common plague for all of us. Things happen much faster for me at FOH now, with a show file I can build on and trust. From a tour and production management point of view, this console is hyper-portable and flexible – as effective in an arena as it is in a club.

‘In the end, both the band and I couldn’t be happier with the sonic quality I’m getting with the LV1. I’m truly looking forward to seeing where I can go with it from here.’


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