CAROLINE POLACHEK TOURS UK & EUROPE WITH STYLUS

Stylus Productions supply an SD12-96 pair for the “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” chanteuse

For the duration of the trek, FOH engineer Mikey Weiland and monitor engineer Kaan Kurt are both manning their mixes on a matching pair of DiGiCo SD12-96 consoles sharing a single SD-Rack loaded with 32-bit I/O and connected via Optocore. The control complement for the EU/UK run was supplied by London-based Stylus Productions.

Based in LA, Mikey Weiland has worked with Caroline Polachek since 2021, as well as a long list of other artists in recent years, including Warpaint, The Church, and Carly Rae Jepson. Although he’s a relative newcomer to the DiGiCo platform, he says that he has fast become a convert. “We initially took a pair of SD11s, sharing a MaDi-Rack, out on Caroline’s fall 2021 run, and I very quickly fell in love with the workflow and haven’t looked back since,” he says. “The jump to SD12 desks with an SD-Rack for this run was born out of necessity. Her show has expanded quite a bit on this new touring cycle and the extra real estate and processing power has been a huge step up for us.”

Working with 36 channels coming from the stage, Weiland notes that he sparingly uses some Waves plug-ins—“mostly a few C6 multiband compressors and S1 stereo enhancers, plus some song-specific FX chains that get punched in and out via snapshots”—but ultimately lets the SD12 “do the bulk of the processing and heavy lifting,” he says,

“For Caroline’s vocal chain, I try and keep things simple and very intentional. Her vocal range and control is truly amazing, so the goal for me is to do as much as possible to preserve and showcase that,” he describes. “She gets some multiband compression at the top of the channel to even out jumps between her lower and higher vocal registers, followed by the onboard HPF, into two stages of very light compression with varying attack and release times. Her input channel is topped off with a side-chained outboard Neve 545 PSE on insert B to clean up stage bleed. That channel then runs into a group, where it’s joined by most of her vocal FX returns, sweetened up with some dynamic EQ, and sent off to a final stage of very light compression to glue everything together.”

Weiland prefers to mix into groups, applying most of his compression and EQing at that stage: “The flexibility in routing and output channel processing available on DiGiCo consoles fits my mixing style perfectly, and snapshots are also a must for me at FOH. I additionally use lots of macros, ranging from wiping EQ setting on my matrix outputs when we hit a new venue, to punching multiple FX return channel mutes and comps in and out with one button for certain sections on specific songs.”

“I absolutely love the results I get with DiGiCo,” he enthuses. “I’ve always found that the clarity and impact of transients, specifically drums, to be unparalleled. Also the ‘one-two’ combo of the onboard dynamic EQs in conjunction with the onboard multiband comps to me is really the ‘sound’ of DiGiCo consoles—one that I haven’t been able to achieve with any other brand.”

Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK-based Kaan Kurt first joined up with Polachek for her 2022 summer festival tour, and further keeps busy with other artists like Jordan Rakei and The Hunna. He is equally pleased with the console spec for monitors. “I learned everything I know on DiGiCo, and they’ve always been my first choice when given the option. I’ve always found the sound quality to be above anything else on the market, with the flexibility to program my file however I want it, and quickly make changes where needed. These reasons combined meant I knew it would be perfect for Caroline, who knows exactly what she wants and can communicate it super efficiently.”

Kurt shares that the SD12’s comprehensive onboard processing “has absolutely everything I need,” he says. “Caroline has a lot of choreography in her performance and is constantly floating and dancing around the stage. Her vocal range is also insane! Having the dynamic EQ built in allows me to keep her vocal at a consistent tonality no matter where she is. Communication across all departments is also essential, and DiGiCo’s matrix routing allows me to hear absolutely everything I need to at any given time. I’m also running snapshots for the entire show, in relative group mode. This has made things really consistent across the entire tour.”

Including Caroline Polachek, there are four musicians on stage—including a drummer, bassist, and guitarist—all on Shure IEMs for minimal stage noise. “I’ve really harnessed the power of the macro on this run,” says Kurt. “I’ve managed to set one up that fires whichever band member’s mix I need into the spare transmitter literally at the click of a finger. Same with firing the input from the spare vocal into the main channel if needed. Thankfully, we haven’t had to use it, but it brings a lot of peace of mind knowing that in case anything happens, we’re quickly covered.”

And, just like the SD11s carried on previous runs, the SD12s have proven to be a welcome addition. “The consoles have been holding up flawlessly!” he adds. “The 32-bit I/O has made things crystal clear, with nothing to hide behind. And the size versus power ratio of this console is amazing, too. Some of these venues have been pretty cramped, but I’ve always been able to squeeze in everywhere and still keep everything that I need at my fingertips.”