Meyer Sound Interview with SIM Engineer/Crew Chief Stravinski Dave Dennison At the 35th Montreux Jazz Festival
Interviewed by Lorin Horosz, Meyer Sound.
LH: I know that you've been with the Festival for several years now. What major changes did you see take place this year?
DD: This is my fifth year with team Meyer at Montreux and I'll have to say each year gets a bit smoother on a technical level. This year the load-in was precise and efficient and the visiting production teams were very complimentary of the system performance. Certainly the biggest and best change in Auditorium Stravinski this Festival was the introduction of the M3D and the M3D Subwoofer into the hall. Rigging and system set-up was a breeze compared to years past. The look of the cluster was clean and compact and the footprint of the subs was smaller. The sound was huge though!
LH: How did the M3D line array systems change the overall dynamic in Stravinski Hall? Was it a major improvement over past system designs?
DD: System coverage was very even and linear throughout the Hall. As you walk across the floor you cross into different speaker zones and there is no perceptible change in amplitude or frequency response. This year, the multi-zone system was cohesive and unified giving a very consistent sound throughout the Hall. A challenge in the past has always been getting sub frequencies into the balcony. The M3D sub solved this problem. Basically everyone in the house was hearing exactly what the mix engineer was hearing. The past designs certainly worked well but the M3D system is the answer for this room.
LH: As the Crew Chief at Stravinski Hall you've had the opportunity to witness some of the hottest talent at the Festival. What performances truly stood out and why?
DD: Who can deny that B.B. is the King of Montreux! His dynamic performance always brings out the best of musicians and the audience. Guitarist Gary Moore's set was sonically enormous. I dare say Marcus Miller had the tightest bass sound. The sensitive expression of Bob Dylan was very crisp and clean. Living Colours' set was literally stunning, pushing us to the edge of the 100dB Laeq Swiss Law. Then on Friday the 20th, the Mothership descended upon us all when George Clinton and P-Funk commandeered the stage...needless to say...funk-an-A! Neil Young, Page & Plant, George Duke, Wayne, Herbie, Sting, Keith Jarrett...the list goes on.
LH: As one of the SIM Engineers at the Festival, tell me what role SIM played in the success of the performances?
DD: Quick and efficient system alignment is vital to any successful festival and SIM is the best way I know to get the show up and running smoothly. Along with initial delay and EQ setting of the main and sub-systems, the multi-channel benefits of SIM let me monitor several mic positions throughout the room during the show and compare system equalization to a mix position microphone. Also, with the temperature and humidity changes between sound check and show time, I can see, for example, that the notch filter I had at 2.2kHz has shifted down to 2.0kHz so I can adjust accordingly. Your ears will always be your strongest decision making tool during a show but SIM provides you a precise and accurate measurement device to help hone your skill and confirm your intention. Besides, when the house is packed full of people it's very difficult to leave the Front-of-House. With mics placed in key positions like the down fill area, balcony, front fill area and floor, I can listen to those areas with SIM from FOH and fine-tune as I see fit.
LH: How has your role evolved at the Festival and how do you envision your involvement with the Festival in years to come?
DD: I started in 1997 as SIM engineer for Auditorium Stravinski and since then have become Crew Chief and have gradually taken on more responsibility, including FOH Mix Engineer for bands that don't bring mix engineers. This year I mixed B.B. King and friends, George Duke and the Tribute to Miles Davis 75th Birthday. That line-up included George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller, etc.
Besides my daily sound check and show duties, I'll also oversee the Off Festival Stage, making sure things run smoothly. I feel proud to be involved in such a respected international event. Where else can you bring together a truly multi-national production crew and put acts from all parts of the world onto a stage night after night for the enjoyment of thousands! All-in-all the proof is in the pudding, when visiting engineers come in and choose not to put any EQ in the system and go away with a good taste of Meyer Sound, I feel secure that my fundamental position at the Festival is an additive one.