In March 2016, Finnish rock band Sunrise Avenue hit the road accompanied by a 35-piece orchestra for their sold-out “Live with Orchestra Wonderland 2016” Tour through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Sunrise Avenue played songs from almost all of their albums, including hits such as “Hollywood Hills”, “Kiss Goodbye”, “Forever Yours”, and “Fairytale Gone Bad”.
Supporting the band were engineers Mikko Salonen (FOH), Tuomas Hollmérus (monitors), and Petri Pihlainen (orchestra pre-mix), as well as system tech Timo Liski. The band invested in dual VENUE | S6L systems for the “Live with Wonderland Orchestra 2016” tour to handle FOH and monitors, as well as a VENUE | S3L-X system to handle the orchestra pre-mix.
At front of house
Mikko Salonen has been mixing front of house for Sunrise Avenue for more than ten years, and he was excited to take the new S6L out for the tour. Mikko records every show to Pro Tools, and uses the previous night’s recordings for Virtual Soundcheck at the next gig. He worked in close collaboration with Petri Pihlainen, who used the S3L-X system to create a pre-mix from 24 orchestral microphones, covering seven 1st violins, seven 2nd violins, four violas, four celli, and two double basses. All violins, violas, and celli were mixed in stereo, while the double basses were mono. Stem-mixes were used for recording and for monitors, while a stereo mix of all strings was sent to the S6L for the main FOH mix. Although the sound on stage was quite loud, he was able to capture the orchestra with astonishingly good quality.
Pihlainen is also the CEO of Oy Laatu-Ääni Ab, a Finnish rental-company, who has been working in the pro audio industry for decades. “We used to have a VENUE | Profile at the company, so when I first heard about the S6L, I immediately knew I wanted to own this console!” said Pihlainen. “With Avid, I can always rely on long-term product cycles, so I know it is a good investment. When I have to sell an older Avid desk, it still has significant value on the second hand market. Beyond financial aspects the sound of the new S6L is a huge improvement compared to older digital desks.”
Talking monitors – an interview with Tuomas Hollmérus
Tuomas Hollmérus has been responsible for Sunrise Avenue onstage sound since 2007. During the “Live with Wonderland Orchestra 2016” Tour, all musicians used in-ear monitors, and Hollmérus provided 18 separate stereo-mixes and four mono-mixes to the musicians.
IG: Tuomas, how was your feeling switching from an older desk to the new VENUE | S6L?
TH: The rehearsals for the tour lasted nearly two months, so I had a lot of time to get accustomed to the console. I´ve been working with Avid products for the past ten years, so switching to the S6L was quite easy for me—there are lots of similarities to the Profile. Just considering the high channel count required due to the 35-piece orchestra, the new S6L is the perfect solution for all of our demands. My monitor desk is completely packed: All 64 inputs on my Stage 64 I/O-Rack are being used as are the local console inputs and the AES/EBU I/O. The S6L is capable of handling high channel numbers with ease.
“My mixes sound more transparent than ever—all the instruments have room to breathe.”
– Tuomas Hollmérus, Monitor Engineer
IG: How do you approach the mixing a show of this complexity—do you handle a lot of that in pre-production?
HT: There are lots of things going on during the show, so I use a snapshot as a starting point for every song. There are some signals to which I have to pay special attention. For example, there is one microphone that is situated close to the front of the stage and is used by different horn-players for their solo-parts. I’ve copied the channel within the S6L multiple times with parameters dialed in for each player, making it easy to recall the right setting at the right moment.
IG: What onboard processing are using for this tour?
TH: Currently I don´t use any third-party-plug-ins—I’m completely relying on the internal effects of the S6L and the bundled plug-ins from Avid. The effects work really well for me; the reverbs and compressors do their jobs absolutely fine. Recently some of the horn players came to my desk to tell me that the reverb sounds fantastic in their in-ear systems.
IG: Now that you’ve had some time with the desk, what are some of your favorite features?
TH: I really enjoy the workflow. Four touchscreens make things a lot easier for me—really fast access to all relevant parameters is now possible. Often it’s only pressing two buttons, and most times hitting only one button gets you where you want to be.
Also the S6L sounds completely different to all previous models. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the preamps or the internal summing, but when I mix a ton of signals together for the in-ear monitors, it feels like there is a lot more space now. My mixes sound even more transparent—all the instruments have room to breathe. I am perfectly happy with the new console and recommend it to anyone who is into professional live mixing. I don´t get paid by Avid for saying this, but the VENUE | S6L is simply a really good console!