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Sugababes push the Focusrite Liquid channel button...

Published: Thu May 11, 2006
20 years ago Snake Newton got into sound engineering ‘by mistake’ as he
thought that giving his band of the time a better sound would get them
noticed. And to a certain degree his thinking paid off. The band didn’t
get noticed but Snake’s quality sound did and soon his services were in
demand the world over. We’ll let him take up the story…

“Since 1999 I have done two years with the Pet Shop Boys, three years
with Craig David and two and a half years with Duran Duran who exploded
back on the live scene having reformed in their original line up. I
have also worked, mixing FOH, on many TV Award shows including the MTV
Europe awards, the MOBOs and the Brits, and have supervised the band
mix at dozens of TV and radio performances around the world.”

That’s quite a CV and Snake’s latest tour saw him oversee the live
sound of one of the world’s hottest girl band, the Sugababes, during
which time his Focusrite Liquid Channels came in to full effect…

“I have spent the last eight months with the Sugababes having just
finished a highly successful British tour,” he explains. “I used the
Liquid Channel for the first time on this tour. The effect and dynamics
onboard my Yamaha desk are excellent but with the Sugababes there were
times in the set when I felt the vocals weren’t quite sitting
correctly.  I tried a Liquid Channel on Heidi’s vocal, set on a
combination that I was convinced would work from previous experience in
the studio with them, and it worked a treat. The next day I deployed
two more Liquids on Amelle and Kiesha.  All three were now on the
Liquid Transformer pre and 1176 emulation.” 

“Keisha has a very dynamic style: from a whisper to a phrase of
swooping vocal gymnastics then back to a whisper in the space of a few
bars. I settled on the mic pre modeled on the Tubetech MEC1A which is a
fine machine. I used the real thing on Craig David for years, so I was
familiar with the sound and went for the Fairchild with a
fastish time-constant for compression. This made the difference for me
and the three girls sat in the mix in a much more controlled manner
without sounding too squashed.” 

“The Liquid has such a variety of pres and compressors that it means
that you only really need the one box. There is no need to try
different hardware during production anymore because it’s all there at
your fingertips. It’s so simple to just change the pre/comp and
you haven’t got to justify the extra cost of getting another piece of
equipment delivered just to try it out.”

“The Liquid Channel is so versatile and sonically astounding.  It
really is the flagship of the Focusrite range now and I can’t wait for
the Liquid Mix to arrive. Also I have to mention that Focusrite’s
support is second to none. When I started using the Liquid Channel you
could only view and control one unit at a time via the Liquid remote. I
mentioned this and within two weeks the next version of the software
was released with the ability to view and control multiple units
simultaneously. Thanks for that guys!”

“In Short, having the Liquid Channel as a front end takes the
management of the voice to a new level in a convenient package. The AD
conversion is fantastic and the noise floor is almost undetectable.”

Snake is currently on tour with Darren Hayes, formally of Savage
Garden. After that he will be going back into the studio. “I can’t wait
to hear the results [using Liquid Channel] in the studio,” he says. “It
makes a big difference live so what the results will be like in the
studio I can only imagine!”

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