[This just in from Jonathan from the Andy Needham Band. Jonathan serves as the band’s bassist, manager, and booking agent. We heard that he liked PreSonus, so we sent him a couple questions, and received a great many answers. They follow.]
How and when did you get involved in music?
I personally got involved in music back in the 5th grade, when my aunt bought me my first snare drum at a local flea market. I played drums all through elementary and high school in the school band, and then picked up other instruments along the way, mainly guitar and bass. I got involved with Andy Needham about 10 years ago at a Christian camp in Southern New Hampshire. I started with the band just filling in for the drummer, then moved to the electric guitar, before finally becoming the band’s full-time bassist. All along the way I was always an all-purpose man who owned much of the band’s live sound equipment. I find just as much satisfaction behind a soundboard as I do on a stage.
We traveled for the past year with the StudioLive 16.4.2. Over the past year, our live event has taken on more elements that require more channels, so just this week we upgraded to the StudioLive 24.4.2. Our drummer, a production graduate from Berkelee College of Music, also uses PreSonus FireStudio Project in conjunction with Pro Tools 10 for recording purposes along with Ableton Live and Reason to create the band’s many backing tracks. We also use that for quick overdubs when working on promotional projects.
What are some of your favorite features?
All of them!
It’s hard to narrow things down. I don’t know if this would be classified as a “feature” but I am so impressed with PreSonus’ continued customer support and free upgrades to equipment already sold. When I bought my original 16.4.2 for the band, it didn’t have a lot of the things that I now can’t see myself living without. The value that is packed into the StudioLive blows my mind when compared to other mixers on the market. More important than the value—it just sounds great.
A particular favorite feature with our band: wireless mixing via StudioLive Remote on the iPad has been a huge help. Also, QMix allows for everyone in the band to control our own separate monitor mixes on our iPhones/iPods. This is crucial, as we can’t afford to have an monitor engineer on the road with us.
Another thing I would consider a “feature” would be in regards to the “ease-of-use” side of things. We can’t afford to always have the same sound guy on the road with us, but because the learning curve of this board is so easy, we can often utilize sound personnel at venues.
Lastly, I love that everything I need is packed into a single case—I don’t have to travel with extra racks of compressors, gates, effects, etc! Furthermore, I can save everything I do. Time is so important when we travel, and because all our settings are is internalized in the StudioLive, we can be sure that our sound will be consistent night after night.
As far as tips’n’tricks go, I find that everyone I talk to is in a different place. My biggest encouragement when people ask about this product on the road is to check out the depths of the free tutorials online. There is a free school at your fingertips 24/7 to learn the ins and the outs of this board.
I love the convenience of the stored Fat Channel settings (i.e. loading presets for instruments, vox, etc). When a band opens up for us, I can save a new scene for them and load each individual instrument to get a starting point. It makes sound checks go a lot quicker and smoother when things sound fairly good from the get-go.
As I mentioned before, we outgrew our board due to some new aspects of our live event. Something we ended up doing (that is probably a little outside the norm) is routing our stereo backing tracks through Aux A and Aux B inputs and then assign those to Subgroup 1 and 2. By doing this, we expanded the board’s capabilities by two channels, though welimit the available subgroups. We were in a pinch and had to think outside the box to make it work—but it works!
We also regularly utilize Capture alongside with the StudioLive for helping with sound checks when we don’t have our sound guy on the road. We can run a sound check (or even recall a sound check from a previous night) and get things sounding pretty good before we have the stand-in person touch the board. It lowers the pressure on someone that has never ran our sound before.
We also have been utilizing the board’s GEQ for fine-tuning the system from venue to venue. Prior to Smaart Measurement Technology being available on the StudioLive, we would use a DriveRack PA+ for the general setup of the system and then play a couple of our standard tracks and walk around the room with the iPad making GEQ adjustments. By fine-tuning the system with the board’s GEQ on the iPad, it allows us to use our ears in all areas of the room so we are hearing things as the crowd will hear it, not just at the FOH board. Usually the adjustments are minor, but by using our ears it can really separate a decent sounding system from a great sounding system. I always save each venue’s GEQ settings because we often play the same places year after year.
Along with saving each venue in the GEQ, a good tip is to always make a practice of saving your Fat Channels individually. The reason I do that is simply because things change tour to tour. By having each individual channel saved respectively, it makes it easier to move people around on the board. Once could also just copy and load the Fat Channels, but I find when I’m making drastic shifts, it’s nice that I don’t have to start any from scratch. I just hit select, load the channel I have saved the Fat Channel for, and I’m in business!