With over 20 years of touring experience with such diverse acts as RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, MAROON 5, CYPRESS HILL, COLLECTIVE SOUL and WEIRD AL YANKOVIC, FOH (front-of-house) engineer Joel Lonky has seen and solved a wide range of performance issues, but few are so chaotic as his current gig mixing with Rob Zombie. "The show is chaotic and unpredictable," he states. "I don't have the luxury of knowing what will happen next, so I needed a console that would allow me to stay on top of any situation that might arise. The PRO6 turned out to be the ideal solution."
Lonky changed to a PRO6 between tour legs, and not without some trepidation. "The decision to make a change mid-tour was not taken lightly," he recalls. "Our first show after the break was at Gibson Amphitheatre in L.A. with ALICE COOPER — no place to have a 'learning curve day.' Fortunately, the PRO6 is very intuitive. I only had one session of factory training at rehearsal, and felt very comfortable in no time. The show went off great, and I really haven't looked back."
One PRO6 feature that Lonky really appreciates is Area B, which allows him to keep one fader group ‘always on top' at the right-hand side of the surface. "I use it for Mr. Zombie's mics and effects returns," notes Lonky. "I can be all over the console, yet still have Rob's priority channels at my fingertips in any scene. It's incredibly convenient."
For the current tour, Lonky utilizes 28 scene presets. Within those scenes, he uses the POP Group buttons for direct access to all the elements. "Several songs have multiple scene presets, which handle various duties," he explains. "It allows me to automate things like effects changes, fader moves, dynamics changes, aux level changes and EQ settings, which are song-specific. I love the POP Groups, too, and use them in every scene, for video rolls, intros, solos, etc. It really makes life easy, if you could ever say that about a Rob Zombie show."
While Joel Lonky is a big fan of the on-board Midas effects engines, he appreciates the fact that the PRO6 is equally adept at connecting to outboard gear. "Rob has done all his releases using very specific effects, which is really critical to getting the real 'Zombie' vocal sound," he explains. "So I carry two Eventide units to access specific pitch-shift algorithms. I also use the onboard Midas pitch shifter, which makes a wonderful doubler. I also love having four different styles of compressor per input channel. That's an amazing feature not found in most digital desks."
Signal routing is amazingly fast and easy," he notes. "And the audio metering on the patching screen is fantastic. You can have the console muted, roll the cursor over the patch point on the menu and see if it is passing audio, plus the source and destination. It's really well thought out."
System routing for the Zombie tour is straightforward, with the left/right mains routed to Matrix 1&2, and Lonky has an aux send for subwoofers, though this is only utilized for fly dates and festivals. "Sometimes the system du jour will be running the subs on an aux, but that's not my preference," Lonky explains. "The PRO6 features a superior hi-pass/lo-pass section that lets me run the PA as a full-range system which, to me, is smoother, and makes alignment and tuning of the subs a breeze."
Overall, Joel Lonky is extremely pleased with the move to Midas digital. "It's really been great," he reports. "The PRO6 has a great analog feel and the navigation is fast and direct, with no need to go through menu layers. Learning it was easier than I anticipated, probably because I was over-thinking it. Really, anybody can get on the PRO6 and be up and running in a minimum of time."
But Lonky saves his highest praise for the analog sound of Midas digital. "It's like my old XL4: warm, smooth and full throughout the spectrum, without any digital harshness," he enthuses. "The inputs can be driven hard like an analog Midas without any of the audio penalties usually associated with a digital front end. The PRO6 has all the features I need for any live audio situation thrown my way, and the sound quality is beyond what I'd hoped for. I can't put it more simply than that."