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Snake Newton picks Event Opals for Robbie Williams tour

Published: Thu December 10, 2009  News Feed

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FOH specialist Snake Newton relies on Event Opals in the pre-production of Robbie's show sound.

London, UK - Considering they are on the front line night after night, live sound engineers rarely get the opportunity to create a name for themselves in the same way as studio engineers. Snake Newton is perhaps the exception who proves this rule, having worked front-of-house for TV award shows including the MTV Europe awards, the MOBOs, the Brits, and with artists including Sugababes, Duran Duran and most recently Robbie Williams.

Snake likes to work closely with bands during the pre-production phase of a show, enabling him to carefully plan each sound for every track, and the latest Robbie Williams tour is no exception. Snake likens this process to recording in the studio, where he will program specific sounds for each particular track, rather than allowing himself to be constrained to a 'one-instrument-one-sound' approach.

Monitoring in pre-production
Of course, to make sure the pre-production programming translates accurately to the show PA, it's essential to have monitors you can trust. Snake has recently purchased a pair of Event Opal nearfield monitors for pre-production work and has discovered they're so much better that his previous monitors, he's now far more confident of that translation to the show PA.

For Snake, the Opals deliver a range of audio that can't be found elsewhere: “The classic problem when doing pre-production with small speakers is that when you put it through a PA, the sub is crushing, because you have no real reference to that area. The thing I've found with the Opals is the extended bass and the lack of distortion, which means it's very close to hearing the sound you would hear from a PA. I don't have to think about compensating for a lack of bass-end. So when I did the first of Robbie’s shows at the BBC Electric Proms with the Opals it all fell straight into place with the PA."

It didn't take much time for Snake to decide that the Opals were the way to go: “I got my hands on a demo pair and I was very impressed right from the beginning. I ordered my own pair the very same day. Even one-on-one the difference between these and my previous monitors is huge. I could immediately tell that the bottom end was a hell of a lot deeper and the mids were much more accurate. The sweet spot is almost imperceptible; there obviously is a sweet spot, but it's not that different to the rest of the soundfield. The field across the speakers is so even I was taken aback. In the past, I've noticed that I sometimes end up mixing guitar-light during long sessions due to listening fatigue. That doesn't seem to happen with the Opals at all."

His new monitors have even meant Snake feels more comfortable taking creative risks with his pre-production programming: “If you have no accurate reference point, that level of programming is going to lead to disaster. This is the first time I've felt confident enough to not put anything through the PA before show-day. We just rocked up at the Roundhouse for the Electric Proms show and off we went. Now I'm stuck with the problem that maybe I need two pairs, one for the studio and one for the road, instead of carting them up and down the motorway all the time!"

Hear Snake's Opal soundscapes
On 16th February, 2010 Snake will once again be performing front-of-house duties for Robbie Williams at the 30th Brit Awards, where Robbie is being honoured with the award for Outstanding Contribution To Music.

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