Veteran FOH and studio engineer Wayne Trevisani has a diverse list of touring credits that range from Jay-Z and Kanye to Iggy Pop, Ted Nugent, and John Hiatt. Trevisani was most recently on tour mixing Maxwell, and I spoke with him about the tour and his recent move to using VENUE | S6L.
DH: When did you first take out the S6L?
WT: I think the first time I used it was in Seoul, Korea, on a Maxwell show, and loved it. I was just like, “Oh, my gosh. This sounds amazing,” and then used it for another couple of one-offs and then I had it on Jennifer Hudson. I loved it for that. The mic pres on that console are perfect for Jennifer Hudson’s big voice. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to use any other console for either of those artists.
DH: I know that you were mixing on VENUE systems since they first came out—how did you decide to move to the S6L?
WT: 2005 was the first tour I took a D-Show out on. I’ve said to many friends that I’ve gotten a lot of praise over the past 12 years and made a lot of money mixing on the D-Show. But after you go to the S6L, it’s what we’ve evolved to. On the D-Show or Profile I would send a stem of vocals and the stem of the band to a Lake [processor], and let the Lake be the summing amp, you know? But on the S6L, there’s no reason to do that—the left/right out of the S6L is as good as any summing amp, as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t need to sum it through any 64-bit Lake processor like I was doing on the Profile. I think Avid has taken the D-Show system the direction it needed to go in, that’s all. I think sonically it’s there, with the ability and flexibility to do so many things. I’m still learning about it. You know, where you could have a bump in a fader as part of a snapshot. I mean, how cool is that?
Snapshots for songs and using the layouts are the best way to run the S6L, as far as I’m concerned. The rest is a similar workflow that I have on any mixing console. The whole thing about the D-Show system, was that it was very user friendly for me. I understood it, and the S6L is very similar, but I think using the layouts can be huge to me. That’s a big, big bonus that I need to explore more of.
DH: I know that you’ve been a big fan of Waves plug-ins over the years both live and in the studio, and you took a SoundGrid server out on the Maxwell tour. What are some of those go-to plug-ins from Waves that you’re sticking with?
WT: C6, bar none. I could pretty much do without every other one, but the C6 is the hard one to replace—I haven’t heard a plug-in that sonically does what the C6 does for me. That’s about it. The Waves server worked, and so I ended up using just a handful of my favorites that I kind of got addicted to, but I don’t feel like I need them because the desk sonically is just so sweet without them. And some of the plug-ins that come with the desk, like the Pro Limiter, are just awesome sounding. I’m very happy with them.
DH: How do you approach mixing your artists—are you trying to reproduce the signature sounds of the CD, presenting that live, or does it depend on the artist?
WT: That’s a lifelong situation that’s varied. As an engineer, when I work with a new artist, the only thing I have to go by is their product—whatever albums they’ve done. In the past, I’ve worked with artists that have said to me, “You know, I hate the sound of that record, and I don’t want it to sound like that.” But that was a long time ago. Most artists that I work with nowadays are very involved in their own final product, and therefore they find themselves married to that and want that sound to translate to the live performance.
As a kid I started out in a studio in Philadelphia and the difference between the two were so wide. But now, as I watched both things grow over the course of my career, it’s become this entwined thing where they’re very close to each other. Sonically I feel, now more so than ever, that we can present shows that sound more like the album than they ever did. Many years ago, when I first started with Avid even, the plug-ins were huge to artists as a comfort zone, saying, “Wow, you can use the same plug-in that I used on the record in the live world.” I mean these artists can come to front of house and stand and say, “Wow. That sounds just like the record,” or, “It doesn’t sound like the record and I want it to sound like…” We’re so similar these days, so close to each other, going from studio to live.
DH: Are you using Virtual Soundcheck as part of that interplay with the artist?
WT: Always. I’m a huge fan of Virtual Soundcheck. Not just as an engineer, but as an artist, and with the artist, because you get into arenas that sound slightly different. You can bring an artist out to front of house and sit with you for a minute, and they walk away smiling, and I’m smiling, and life is good. That’s still truly one of the coolest things!