Inside The Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Tour With D&B Audiotechnik


November 9, 2022

After five years off the road, the Red Hot Chili Peppers recently embarked on a stadium tour across North America in support of the band’s 12th and 13th albums Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, which were released on April 1, 2022, and on October 14, 2022, respectively. Headliner caught up with Clair Global engineer Toby Francis to find out about the challenges of mixing FOH for one of the world’s biggest bands why the d&b audiotechnik GSL and KSL systems were the perfect fit for their return…

“After the band changed guitar players, which changed the dynamic within the band, and a prolonged process with management changing as well, it became a four-year process to satisfy band requirements,” said Francis. “The four band members have very dynamic personalities on stage and are adamant about what their show involves and wanting the best sound possible, so discussions took place prior to rehearsals. What they hear and feel from the d&b GSL and KSL system on stage, and how clean it is drove everyone’s attention. They are thrilled at how it sounds: the coverage, and everything else about it. Making the band truly happy is the goal. They used a separate manufacturer’s PA for one show, and it was a struggle. The band is a Clair Global corporate account, and they require global support from one company using the same systems, so Eighth Day Sound is supporting the tour globally.”

The PA configuration for the tour was 20 GSL8s per side for mains and 16+4 (GSL8/12) for side fills, 30 SL-SUBs 10 per side flown, and 10 on the ground as a horizontal subwoofer array, 10 x Y10P point sources for front fills. Delays were in four positions, with 12 KSL8s each position. The system was powered with 82 D80 amplifiers, while all system alignment and optimisation was handled within the D80 amps using d&b R1 Remote software, and all system design and prediction is accomplished using d&b ArrayCalc software.

“The band does not like to hear or feel the PA system during the show, they find it distracting and it interferes with their performance,” Francis continued. “GSL/KSL allows me accommodate the bands needs without altering the way the PA needs to sound for the audience. This tour is all large venues, either baseball, football, or soccer stadiums, as well as large open fields. Stadiums are challenging due to their size, odd shapes, glassed in boxes, score boards and large video screens which leads to a very reverberate environment to mix a show in. GSL/KSL being very directional, with very tightly controlled patterns and having Array Processing helps avoid creating any extra reflections making for a clearer sound for the audience. The system works amazingly well in large venues.”

“I have used ArrayProcessing in stadiums and other PA configurations with delay systems since it was introduced in summer of 2015,” added Ville Kauhanen, system engineer. “ArrayProcessing has been the biggest change I personally have experienced in large speaker system design and optimization after I was introduced to acoustic measurements. For me personally, the uniformity of the coverage area and day-to-day consistency are key elements for my work and this software really helps me achieve these parameters. On this tour the venues have been very different, and the only common denominator has been the large audience capacity. ArrayProcessing and especially with the SL-Series takes the control of the coverage and uniformity of tonality within the wanted coverage to a whole new level. It is also a very important tool for me when I need to combine systems like main PA to delays to properly control the overlap areas in x-axis.”

The Toronto Roger Centre was cited as a recent example of how the GSL and KSL systems came through with positive results.

“Not having mixed on the two systems but having used the J-Series at festival shows, I was shocked at how clear the GSL and KSL sounded,” said Francis. “All of our shows are stadiums. We use delays on all shows, so the ArrayProcessing really made the difference and less difficult to cover every seat in the house. I’m now a true believer in this PA system. Ville Kauhanen is incredibly good at what he does…. the sound is consistent everywhere from ArrayProcessing, even where sound places are difficult. Big stadiums that have house PA is hard to time the systems together, so we rarely use house PA. The back corners of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, for example, was particularly clear thanks to ArrayProcessing.”

One of the band members was adamant about analogue technology being deployed, so Francis mixed on a Yamaha PM5000 analogue console. “Features on today’s digital consoles give you features that were never available on analog consoles: endless amount as busses…automated everything.”

Francis added that the band and are ‘raving’ about how the system sounds, which, he says, ‘makes him a popular guy’. “Even engineers and half of bands friends that are record producers have been overly complimentary,” he concluded. “Mike Dean, producer for Ye and Travis Scott was blown away when he attended the Atlanta show.”

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