Held at the iconic Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles, the Grammy Awards made a triumphant return this year, celebrating its 65th ceremony and outstanding achievements in the United States music industry between 2021-2022. From Front of House and Monitors, to Production Mixing and more, DiGiCo’s Quantum series of consoles provided a solid foundation for the sonic success of “Music’s Biggest Night”.
Provided through ATK Audiotek/Clair Global, the event’s primary PA system vendor, the 2023 show featured some of the most complex productions ever assembled in the history of the Grammys- most notably the 35 rappers, 4 DJs and live band, who together turned the stage into a 15-minute-long history of rap: including Missy Elliott, Run-D.M.C, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Method Man, Queen Latifah, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and the Grandmasters Flash and Melle Mel, backed by a combination of tracks and live renditions from The Roots.
Acquiring, treating and keeping all of that audio together fell upon a contingent of veteran audio engineers and a luminary cast of DiGiCo consoles. Front of House featured two Quantum 7 consoles manned by Michael Parker and Ron Reaves, who alternated mixing each live performance of the evening- including Adele, Lizzo, Harry Styles and Bonnie Raitt, all of whom were also category winners that night. Sharing the FOH platform with them, was production mixer Jeff Peterson, and a Quantum 338, through which production-audio elements such as introductions, announcements, and speeches from the podium were combined, alongside the two alternating FOH music feeds.
Two more Quantum 7’s were utilized for monitors, manned by Andres Arango and Tom Pesa, reflecting a similar split of the forked stage, on which one performance would take place while the next was setting up. All Quantum consoles were connected via an Optocore network loop, each with a complement of SD-Racks and SD-MiNi Racks.
“The Quantum 7 is simply the best tool for that job,” explains Ron Reaves, who was mixing his 20th Grammy Awards show. “It presents a very good, very powerful platform that lets you do anything you want and place anything you want anywhere on it,” he notes. “My template is 168 open faders, so I have to be ready for anything, and with that console, I am, because it has the horsepower I need for these kinds of wide-ranging array of performances.”
With the show featuring over two dozen individual performing acts, Ron needed to spend time on every song throughout rehearsals and soundchecks, communicating with each act’s FOH mixers. Ron explains that the heritage of DiGiCo’s console series, namely the SD-Range, greatly assisted in making this process a smooth one for the variety of engineers involved- “All the guest engineers know it and are familiar with it,” he explains.. “It gives us a common language, and helps keep a hugely complex production like the Grammy Awards moving and on schedule. The snapshot capability is exceptional.”
Ron notes that while Front of House and Monitors share the same preamps with the Quantum 7, the latter tends to drive them hotter. “My gain structure and way of working will put less pressure on the preamps, but if they start to almost clip upstairs, I’ve still got a ton of headroom” he explains. “Between the power and the flexibility, the Quantum 7 is the only console we could do this on.” Michael Parker, Ron’s counterpart on the FOH platform, agrees, calling the Quantum 7 “the Rolls Royce of consoles.”
Throughout the performances that evening, Michael applied the Spice Rack’s Chilli 6 multiband compressor on many of the voices he mixed, including during Stevie Wonder’s performance. “It’s great for softening up the vocals in a certain range, between about 2k and 5k,” he explains. The Quantum 7’s extremely flexible worksurface was of immense benefit during the night’s acclaimed 50th Anniversary Of Hip Hop performance, when both FOH engineers combined their workflow: instead of mixing performances on one side or the other of the split stage, Michael handled all of the vocals for the entire stage while Ron mixed the music tracks, three DJs and live band.
“On the network, we all had access to all of the inputs, and the Quantum 7 lets us easily configure each console for each production,” explains Michael. “The Stadius 32-bit mic pre’s were also great to have on that show. Everything just sounded so good.”
Over at Monitor control, Tom Pesa covered IEMs for stage right and Andres Arango for stage left, with both on DiGiCo Quantum 7s and the third Grammy Awards show for the consoles. Andres found the Quantum 7’s flexibility to be a lifesaver on Monitors for the 50th Anniversary Of Hip Hop performance- “Tom and I were going to town on that, and I was amazed at how fast and accurately we were able to work on what was a pretty hectic production number,” Andres notes. “Questlove was calling out each performer just before they came onstage and giving a quick countdown over his talkback mic. “Ice-T—one, two, three, four, go! Busta Rhymes—one, two, three, four, go!’ We were just racing. And the Quantum7 kept up. I don’t think there is another console that could have handled that fast-paced show as well as it did.”
Tom, working on his 23rd Grammy Awards night, explains that the basic currency of monitors for the show is a ‘foundation channel template’ built on the Quantum 7’s worksurface. This channel is then copied and customized for each artist, enabling quick recall as the show progresses. However, both engineers had to remain alert in case of last-minute changes. Tom recalls, on the 2014 edition of the show, that Paul McCartney’s performance was moved from one side of the stage to the other, 30 minutes before soundcheck. “We had to quickly create a new template for that,” Tom explains. “You want to have every parameter at your fingertips at all times because you never know when you’re going to have to make a quick adjustment. The biggest challenge is keeping as many options on the table as possible, even as you’re trying to pare each template down for each artist to keep it manageable. The Quantum 7 is a big help for that.”