LA pop rock phenomenon Maroon 5 recently embarked on UK + Europe 2023, a swift and concise tour across Europe. The tour began in Lisbon, Portugal and travelled through Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, and France before concluding in Birmingham, England. The three-time Grammy Award winners played highlights from their discography and material from their seventh studio album, 2021’s Jordi. Their 15th concert tour by the band, who have also won eight Billboard Music Awards and 27 BMI Pop Awards, was not their only live endeavour for 2023. Maroon 5 also have a completely different live identity: an ongoing residency at the immersive Dolby Live venue at Park MGM in Las Vegas.
On the road, Maroon 5 are a stereo band; in Las Vegas, their concerts are transformed into a unique immersive experience through the Dolby Atmos format. What remains consistent throughout, is the suite of DiGiCo consoles that the band’s audio team deploy to manage the sound of every show. Front of house is mixed on a DiGiCo Quantum5 by Vincent Casamatta, Dave Rupsch handles lead singer Adam Levine’s vocals using an SD10 and Marcus Douglas manages the band’s monitors on a DiGiCo SD5. All three consoles are connected to an Optocore network loop and share two SD-Racks.
Whether it’s Prague or Las Vegas, the Quantum 5 handles the same show, though Casamatta says the shift between stereo on the road and the immersive residency has subtle but important distinctions. “I need my stereo show on the DiGiCo to exist at all times behind the immersive mix and vice versa,” he says. “So I’m literally booting up the same show file whether I’m mixing an immersive show or have a stereo two-bus mix happening. It doesn’t matter. And that was a huge mandate of mine because I didn’t want to compromise. No matter what format we were doing I wanted it to be the same mix, and the Quantum5 made that easy.”
Casamatta taps into the Quantum 5’s flexible workflow to accomplish this, by using a combination of subgroups and MADI to assure that each of the audio “objects” used in the Atmos mix retain the same processing used in the stereo mix on the road. “I have a lot of groups anyway in my stereo mix, and I was able to utilize those to create objects out of them,” he explains. “I already have a complete kick bus and a snare bus and a vocal bus, so I can just send those out as objects into the immersive environment.”
Starting as the monitor tech in 2015, Marcus Douglas became Maroon 5’s sole monitor engineer in 2019, shortly before Adam Levine’s mixes were separated into their own module. The SD5 Douglas uses for band monitors was also his first comprehensive experience with DiGiCo consoles, and he was glad to have the introduction. “The SD5 sounds great and has a very easy, intuitive workflow,” he says. “I could walk right up to it and get started immediately.”
Douglas explains that everything he needs- from gates to compressors to effects- are onboard, and always right at hand for the five band members onstage. “I also like the Con-Send feature that we use on the loop,” Douglas says, “which integrates the talkback and shout speakers without having to use up any extra channels. It seems like DiGiCo really thought of everything.”
In mid-2021 a decision was made to add engineer Dave “Supa Dave” Rupsch, with a sole focus on Adam Levine’s vocals, a move which Vincent Casamatta praised as a game changer. Ironically, adding a third console to the technical lineup actually reduced the amount of overall gear needed to manage the sound, thanks to the desks’ highly flexible workflow and onboard processing. “With everything on the loop, we have less gear and it sounds and works better than it ever did,” says Casamatta. “It sounds so much better not going through a splitter. The whole package has been really, really solid.”
Rupsch says the ease with which he does his job is due in part to the layout of his DiGiCo SD10 console, which feeds Adam Levine’s IEMs on the same wireless receiver system the entire band uses. “The whole workflow is definitely streamlined by all of us being on the same loop,” he says. “Without a splitter, I’m getting Adam’s vocals right from the source, so the sound quality couldn’t be more pristine.” Rupsch explains that his job doesn’t vary much between the road and the Las Vegas residency, although the latter location can occasionally present additional challenges. “Adam spends a lot of time on the stage thrust, and it’s not unusual to get some PA bleed into the vocal microphone there,” he explains. “But in Las Vegas, there are three PA hangs that shoot directly onto the thrust, so there are a lot more artifacts, such as differing arrival times, plus there’s slapback from the back wall of what is a smaller venue than most of the shows we’ve been doing.”
To counter that, Rupsch brings in a Neve 5045 Primary Source Enhancer analog processor through an I/O on the console, which he says substantially softens the artifacts. “I like the computer landing pad on the SD10, which is really convenient for dialling in other plug-ins and fine-tuning the filters on noise gates. The console’s got a lot of features, but because everything’s so easy and intuitive to use, I can keep the focus on Adam’s vocals.”
Vincent Casamatta goes on to summarize: “DiGiCo did a great job of giving engineers tools to make artistic and aesthetic choices without needing outboard gear. It’s the complete package.”