Over the last almost 30 years, Patrick Eckerlin, a former keyboarder, has made quite a name for himself in the German music business. He started working with PUR in 1995—one of Germany’s most successful pop bands with eight platinum albums to their credit—and has been mixing front of house for them since 2001. In addition to PUR, Patrick has worked with Herbert Grönemeyer, Die Toten Hosen, and Lenny Kravitz, in addition to working as an in-demand freelance sound engineer.
Patrick first mixed PUR on a VENUE | Profile system in 2013, and after more than 30 open-air and arena shows later, he’s more enthusiastic than ever about the system’s sound quality and Virtual Soundcheck capabilities. In December 2015, PUR was the first major German act to tour with VENUE | S6L, and we checked in with Patrick to see how it went the first time out with the new system.
Avid: Patrick, what are your biggest challenges touring with PUR as an FOH engineer?
PE: When using a center stage night in night out, the venues’ size can be a huge challenge due to the 360° configuration. We play in the biggest arenas in Germany with audiences ranging from 12,000 to 17,000 fans. Having a consistent listening experience, even in the last row, is one of our primary goals.
When mixing a German band, speech comprehensibility is always the top priority. If everything sounds great but you don’t understand a word of what the singer is singing, there wouldn’t be much appreciation in Germany. That’s not only the case with PUR, but also with other German bands like Silbermond.
With the constantly changing instrumentation between PUR’s songs, one would theoretically need 60 open channels all the time. Therefore, programming snapshots for the console and plug-in settings are a must.
Avid: How did you decide on VENUE | S6L for this tour?
PE: As a longtime satisfied user of Avid’s VENUE | Profile, I can’t think of a realistic alternative to the S6L—it was the logical next step for me. Since I can just export files from my Profile, transitioning to the S6L was very easy. We worked with [sound company] 8days a week for this tour, and discussed using S6L early on.
When Wolfgang “Schabbach” Neumann and Frank Müller [CEO of 8days a week] confirmed that I’d be receiving the console even before starting the rehearsals with PUR, it was set. This gave me a few more days to get to know the console before the tour started.
Avid: How comfortable were you taking out a brand new console?
PE: I’ve taken this risk before, going on tour with a new console. I was optimistic that everything would be just fine, because I never had any problems with the Profile. I also received excellent support from Avid and their German distributor, S.E.A.
Avid: How was the switch from the Profile to the S6L?
PE: Frankly, after a few hours working with the S6L, it felt like I’d never had another console. Anyone familiar with the Profile will be able to work on the S6L without any problem.
Avid: What do you like most about the S6L?
PE: Visually speaking, the S6L is very well made and exactly what I’d expect from a console in 2015. It provides a very good overview of the individual channels, a lot of information in terms of input, EQ, dynamics, and routing. For me, the last point is more important than almost any other. With the S6L, I can immediately see which tracks are routed where. And the sound is fantastic.
Avid: Having mixed a tour with S6L, what are your “must have” features?
PE: The “input” button that allows me to have 32 input faders in a single bank—that’s just great. I also think the Universe Screen is amazing. It lets me quickly place a specific channel on a fader without having to change the whole fader bank each time.
Since I first used the Profile, I don’t want to ever lose the Pro Tools integration. I record every show, and the previous evening’s recording is always my reference to adjust the PA system for the next show.
“After a few hours working with the S6L, it felt like I’d never had another console. Anyone familiar with the Profile will be able to work on the S6L without any problem.”
Avid: How did you set up the show on the S6L?
PE: I work with snapshots per song. In the automation I have mutes, faders, plug-ins and AUX-sends. Channels such as main mic, spare mics etc. are not programmed in the automation. On a tour with a stage in the round I also take the panorama into the automation.
Avid: Are there certain sources that require particular attention?
PE: Yes, Hartmut’s voice [PUR’s lead vocalist] isn’t without its challenges. Among other things, I sometimes use Virtual Soundcheck to play short text phrases in a loop to tweak parameters like the center frequencies of my two de-essers. Furthermore, the multiband compressor requires a bit of time to dial in properly. I used to use the Waves C6, but on the S6L I use the new Pro Multiband plug-in.
Avid: What other plug-ins are you using with PUR?
PE: Currently I mainly use the Avid Pro series plug-ins and the Sonnox Live Bundle. From Sonnox I mainly use the EQ and the de-esser for vocals and TransMod for drums.
Avid: Would you recommend S6L to a colleague?
PE: Definitely—I warmly recommend it to everyone. Many of my colleagues are jealous that I’m already using it. In my opinion, it’s the best console on the market right now.