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Article by Aphex Systems

1788 Remote Controlled Preamps on Tour with Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam Front-of-House Mix Engineer Brett Eliason (left), and Karrie Keyes, Monitor Mix Engineer.
The American leg of the Pearl Jam world tour kicked off on August 3 with a major change to its recording and PA rig. Five Model 1788 remote controlled 8 channel preamps replaced the traditional system of connecting the microphone into a transformer splitter, down long cable runs and into the preamps in the consoles.

The 1788 has two separate analog outputs and three separate digital outputs for each channel. The main output is fed to the FOH console. The auxiliary output is fed to the monitor console. And the AES3 output is fed directly to a Sony PCM and then on to a Pro Tools system. The 1788's are installed up on stage, thus eliminating the splitter and the long mic level cable runs. And because the microphones are now driving a short cable and only one preamp, all the sonic degradations caused by the traditional system are eliminated.

Pearl Jam as a band and as an organization is fanatical about audio quality. For example, they do not use any wireless microphones. They are equally fanatic about capturing the energy of their live performances. When the opportunity arose to experiment with a method that fulfilled both goals, they jumped on it.

Brett Eliason is the band's Front-of-House Mix engineer. He already had some experience with the 1788 so he specified them with confidence. But after using them for several concerts he is thrilled with the quality increase of both the recording and PA systems. Compared to the recordings made in Europe using the traditional system, Brett says that the tracks are "fuller, punchier and warmer. The differences are not subtle and everyone who has listened to the new tracks has been very impressed."

There have been dramatic differences in the PA as well. Brett reports "there is more real low end and smoother high end. It has eliminated the mid-range 'honk' of the house PA."

A feature of the 1788 that has proven useful is MicLim - a limiter on the output of the microphone before the preamplifier. Eddie Vedder plays an acoustic guitar that is miked with a Fishman acoustic pickup. He usually plays very softly and the preamp is set up with lots of gain. One concert he decided to strum hard and if it were not for the MicLim the guitar would have been totally distorted.

"Once the mic pre's were set up they have worked flawlessly. They wake up exactly how they were left at the last concert and I can easily load a preset if needed. There are no clocking problems on the digital outputs. The analog outputs to the house and monitor positions are much cleaner than what we had before. We are very happy with the change."


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