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Interview with Montreux Jazz Festival Monitor Mixer Stephen Thorneycroft


July 4, 1998

Stephen Thorneycroft has worked in the professional audio trade for more than three decades as a musician, tour manager, front-of-house mixer and monitor engineer. His enormous client list reads like a who's-who of touring acts and includes B. B. King, Ohio Players, and Johnny Cash to name just a few.

Q: What do you think of the new subs, the PSW-6 ?
A: Very good. The main thing is a lack of backwash. You can actually operate PFL [pre-fade listen] systems louder, you can speak to each other without your glasses vibrating off the table. It's very good; I'm most impressed. I don't even begin to understand the science behind it. Sound Steering? Hmmm. It's a tremendous improvement against other subs as well.

Q: What does that mean for your work?
A: It means I can run lower sound levels on stage. You don't get musicians saying, "What's that awful booming noise?" You know it's not the monitors. A lot of musicians think it is. Particularly if they're in the extremes of the stage, but this is very clean. That's a good endorsement.

Q: What about the monitors; do you have anything to say about those?
A: Yeah, very clean, the UM-1P and UM-100P. The diction, the speech, and singing is much improved, it's very clean sound. It means you can run the graphic virtually flat; the channel on the desk virtually flat; and so you get out what you put in. I tend to use graphics for removing things, if you have to start adding there's something wrong with the system. I tend to use the opposite of what other people do; I use them for taking things out rather than adding things in.

I have to use a variety of speakers because we have a variety of music. Everything from older jazz artists, who don't want monitors, but they'll need them if they come here. It's a very dead room, carpeted stage, so they are going to need them. They want something small and discrete, then you move up into different kinds of music where you need bigger, louder monitors. Then there are the extremes of heavy-metal music, and dub where you need massive amounts of bass on the stage, for some obscure reason, so you end up using MSL-4s with seriously deaf people. I need a variety of monitor cabinets, and this new system means I'm not swapping controllers and amps. This system is made up of components from different countries, I've got some cabinet, some 16 amp c-forms, I've got Swiss mains boards, French mains boards. It's a constant struggle battle to try and keep the right lead on the right connector, otherwise very, very good. I'm most impressed.

Q: How long have you been coming here, to Montreux?
13 years. Actually, I came here in 1980 with Marvin Gaye. Then I came back five years later to do another band, and Fraizer Kennedy offered me a job on the spot. I thought, hmm, this looks interesting so I took it.

Q: Have you worked with Meyer Gear at other places?
A: I've used Meyer in lots of different places. I prefer it. If somebody says, "What do you want?" Then normally I would ask for Meyer. Because it's discrete, it works, it sounds good, and I know that I can walk up to a desk, flick out the EQ on everything and it'll sound good.

Meyer Sound: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Thorneycroft: Wonderful. Thank you.

July, 2003








Montreux Jazz Festival

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