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Cookies and Cream rock De Shop with Avid

For the first big gig at Antwerp’s newest venue, sound engineer Peter Philips found his new Avid S3L-X console was the icing on the cake

At the end of February, De Shop, Antwerp, hosted a showcase for acclaimed covers band Cookies and Cream. It was a unique opportunity to test the band’s 2015–16 setlist before a 2,000-strong live audience of events organisers, companies and festivals.

The show at the former dockworkers’ employment office marked the start of a 200-date tour for the band (pictured), and the first with a “fixed” FOH configuration, provided for the tour by rental company Lemon.

Sound engineer Peter Philips used De Shop’s installed ‘C-Type’ main FOH system (developed by production giant PRG), in combination with 12 d&b Q-Subs and four d&b cardioid J-Subs. d&b Q1 and C6 bozes served as fills and delays. The PA was steered by his S3L-X desk, with a DiGiCo SD8 for in-ear monitors.

“The fact that the venue, for the first time, was at full capacity encouraged us to bring along more subs and extra delay speakers and outfills to complement the fixed install in the venue, which is normally used for corporate events, receptions and presentations,” explains Philips. “The Shop […] has a stone tile floor, brick walls and huge glass windows, requiring extra acoustic measures and more speakers.”

In addition to the extra cabinets, logistical support company Kick installed some 60m² of TexLnt mobile low-frequency baffles, drastically improving the hall’s acoustics.

Placing the d&b subs in a cardioid speaker setting reduced reflections on the back walls,” explains Jan Van Hove, managing director of Lemon. Van Hove is a dedicated d&b user, and his company, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, has grown along with the increasing demand for the band.

Peter Philips decided to replace the original Soundcraft MH3 analogue console with an Avid VENUE S3L-X desk for this tour. “The band’s set is becoming more complex, and in addition to the added value of touring with a fixed FOH set-up, the upgrade to digital is a bonus both in logistics and functionality,” he says.

“For Cookies and Cream, we have 40 inputs, including linear timecode coming from the stage. I use Pro Tools 11 for recording and virtual soundcheck, allowing me to program snapshots and trigger them automatically from the incoming timecode.”

The console also features a McDSP ML4000 multiband compressor/limiter (on the mix bus), AE400 active EQ (on vocals, kick and piano), MC 2000 multiband compressor (on the keyboards) and Sonnox Trans-Mod plug-ins. “I also use an Avid ModDelay III, a Moogerfooger phaser and analogue delay, a SansAmp PSA-1 pre-amp, and Avid Reel Tape Suite plug-ins.”

The choice of Avid was inspired by Philips’ familiarity with the D-Command format through his work in the post-production sector, “and also the compact size of the console – it’s probably the most compact digital console offering 64 inputs”. The S3L’s latest software version can be used to control Pro Tools, which comes in handy for those post-production assignments.

Another advantage, he notes, is that plug-ins emulating most of his analogue peripherals are now available. “For the Cookies concerts, I decided to leave extra outboard gear at home,” he says.

On stage, the band use eight wireless Shure PSM 900 IEM in-ears and two Shure UR4D handheld microphones. To further reduce volume on stage, the drum kit is equipped with Zildjian Gen 16 cymbals and a digital snare drum. “In doing so, I get full control at the FOH position, and that’s crucial for smaller or corporate events,” concludes Philips.
No doubt Cookies and Cream will be whipping up the crowds around Europe in the months to come.