Hailed as one of the best live bands in the world, muse did not disappoint with crystal clear audio clarity.

By Cat Strom / Photos: David Yodel.

Marc Carolan has been Muse’s sound engineer for sixteen years, faithfully sticking with an analogue console because quite simply, it’s the best option for the band.

“I use a Midas XL4 along with a Midas Pro2 as a sidecar to handle all of my automation,” explained Marc. “It’s a bit of a Frankenstein rig! The guts of the band – bass, drums, guitars, vocals – all happens on the analogue console whilst the keyboards, drum pads and incidental stuff happen on the Pro2.

“The reason I stay with the Midas XL4 is that nothing sounds better than it for that type of input. It’s not that I’m a technical Luddite, I believe it’s about using the correct tool for the job.”

Marc Carolan at the Midas

When putting together a FOH system for Muse, Marc knows it will be used for at least eighteen months (in this instance it has been three years) and so he certainly makes sure that he is happy with what everything is doing!

“However, it means we can customize how everything is done within the FOH system because again we know it’s going to stay together for a long time,” said Marc. “This is a Muse-owned console too which adds another dimension to it.”

When discussing mixing for Muse, Marc says that the band are all fantastic musicians so the input that he gets is brilliant, and consistently so.

“That part of my job is made a lot easier but on the flip side of that, there’s a lot of complexity within the material,” he commented. “In any given song it can go through three or four completely different musical movements so that keeps you very much on your toes. I never get bored doing it night after night because they are such great players and performers – it still feels fresh and never gets dull.”

In Australia, JPJ Audio supplied their new d&b GSL PA system for the tour, the first time that Marc had used the system.

“At the beginning of the world tour when we played in the round, we used a mixture of d&b J-Series and V-Series,” he said. “So to use the GSL system was very exciting. Of course using something for the first time there’s always a sense of trepidation but with it being a d&b product, I was never really afraid. I had heard it before at a show and so I knew it was going to be good. I was happy to take the chance and I knew Bruce Johnston wouldn’t put me in a position where I was going to get shafted!”

Bearing in mind that the d&b J-Series has been developing constantly for over ten years, Marc was surprised that when he first listened to the GSL system, as well as hearing the potential of what it will become, the resolution and detail was incredible.

“I use an analogue console and perversely, the newer technology with the GSL has made the analogue console even more relevant because its superior audio characteristics come even more to the fore with this system,” added Marc.

“The low end control is incredible and the noise rejection out the back makes it a killer for any outdoor concerts. I really like that it doesn’t rely on huge amounts of DSP which, to my ear, colour the sound quite a lot and become fatiguing when things are really super processed.

“Sonically it’s a big step forward and what’s even more exciting is that it’s just at the beginning of what it’s going to be able to do.”

The Sydney and Melbourne shows saw GSL on the main hangs, J-Series on the side and rear hangs and the new GSL subs on the floor. Marc remarked that because the main GSL speakers are so good at low end in the air, he didn’t need to fly any subs.

“We had quite a small deployment of subs on the floor compared to what we would usually expect to have to get that impact,” he added. “That’s another big plus with this system; it’s going to save a lot on points and weight in the roof. As people’s collective knowledge of the box develops, I think you’re going to see smaller arrays flying.”

Microphone selection included Royer 122L on the guitars, Beyerdynamic M88 on bass, and Shure Beta 57A for the Chris’s backing vocals. However it is the Neumann KMS 104 and KMS 105 heads on a Sennheiser stick for vocals that are Marc’s staple microphone for Matt’s vocals.

“I’ve always used a Neumann KMS 105 with Muse going right back,” he revealed. “When we played in the round earlier in the tour we had to look at going wireless for a lot of the show as there were so many multiple mic positions. The reason I use the KMS 105 head in particular is that Matt sometimes sings off axis from the mic but with the KMS 105 it doesn’t matter so much as it still sounds good. Some people say there’s a lot of spill from that microphone but I find the spill from that microphone is a natural sounding spill.”

The band have been using IEM’s for fifteen years, currently Sennheiser, with Adam Taylor running monitors on a Midas Pro 9.

This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine February 2018, pp.66-68. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues. Read all editions for free or search our archive
Photos: David Youdell. All text and photos © CX Media

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