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Delivering Audio For Return Of The Craic

A socially distanced drove of comedy lovers recently descended on a St. Albans country pub garden for Return Of The Craic, an evening of laughs that featured a regular on the stand-up circuit — Phil Wang.

Despite the slightly unexpected wet and windy weather, the stage and audio system was expertly rigged beneath a patchwork of marquees in the spacious garden at Dylans - The Plough, surrounded by stunning English countryside in the quiet hamlet of Sleapshyde.

Two LVX XM15 active wedges from dBTechnologies provided robust audio reinforcement, with the system’s enhanced coaxial design delivering clear sound and superior intelligibility to make sure every quip was heard by the attentive audience.

“At Viking Productions we’re huge fans of dBTechnologies’ DVX, VIO line array range, and their excellent LVX coaxial stage wedges,” says Rick Dickerson, the event’s audio engineer. “Not only are they exceptional value for money but they have a number of useful digital parameters for various applications.

“They sound great and also come equipped with a top hat fitting on one side for FOH duties. For this small scale event I wanted to fit a great sounding system in the boot of my car and the dBTechnologies LVX XM15’s fitted nicely.”

The show featured local resident and host for the evening Jarlath Regan and a warm-up set from Catherine Bohart (pictured above), followed by a hysterical routine from Phil Wang, whose matter-of-fact, sometimes slightly wicked humour and nonchalant stage presence drew some big laughs on the night.

Wang has appeared on shows including Have I Got News For You, QI, Would I Lie to You?, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Roast Battle, and The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice, as well as hosting Live at the Apollo and appearing as a regular guest throughout series 7 of Taskmaster on Dave.

His latest critically acclaimed live show Philly Philly Wang Wang broke records at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe, selling out its entire run before the festival even began, and subsequently selling out a final extra show in the 750-seater Pleasance Grand.

This gig however was a much smaller, more intimate affair for Wang, whose Shure SM58 dynamic vocal microphone capsule paired with Shure’s brand new SLX-D digital wireless system ensured each hilarious gag was captured clearly and cleanly, whether shouted or whispered.

The whole process of setting up and checking the rig with music through it took about 35-40 minutes. Rick Dickerson

A Korg Soundlink MW-1608 desk was used to gel the whole event’s audio together, and provided flexible mixing support on the night.

“I had recently reviewed a number of products for Headliner’s Spotlight section and this gave me the perfect opportunity to try out those products which have a live focus,” adds Dickerson.

“The Korg MW-1608 is the perfect compact desk for corporate, educational, folk/jazz clubs and pubs and of course comedy. Meanwhile, Shure’s new digital replacement for the analogue SLX wireless system — the SLX-D — is aimed at exactly the same market.

“I had a nice light 25m, 8-way stage box with me, which included six sends and two returns for FOH. This allowed me to send a couple of wired Shure SM58 mics from the stage together with the two channels of Shure SLX-D radio mics with SM58 capsules. I kept the receivers on the side of the stage under some plastic sheeting due to the rain. There wasn’t much room at FOH because of the clear social distancing pathways, so the small footprint of the Korg MW-1608 was perfect for the smallest of coffee tables.

“After firing up the system and having a quick listen to a couple of high resolution files via the USB input, I made a few small tweaks on the digital graphic,” explains Dickerson. “The first at 125 and 160Hz which is something I’ve found I pull out slightly on other boards both analogue and digital, and is more to do with the dBTechnologies speaker system.

“The next is again only slight at 2.5 and 3kHz, just soothing out any harshness or aggression in the audio. I leave the channel EQ relatively flat on the individual vocals ready for soundcheck. The whole process of setting up and checking the rig with music through it took about 35-40 minutes.

I was able to make use of the Limiter on each of the mic channels to bring the levels down during quieter passages of speech. Rick Dickerson

“As we all know, no two voices are ever the same, so having that lovely sweepable midrange on the Korg allowed me to quickly set up a generic sound for all of the mics; interestingly the radio mics sounded almost identical to their wired counterparts.

“Before the show started, Jarlath Regan called in for a soundcheck. I passed him his radio mic and before I could even gauge whether anything needed changing, he’d spoken a couple of lines and handed it back to me saying ‘that sounds lovely.’ I wiped down all the mics with disinfectant wipes, set up one of Spotify’s great playlists and the doors opened.

“As the show got underway, I was able to make use of the Limiter on each of the mic channels to bring the levels down during quieter passages of speech,” Dickerson continues.

“The overall performances were outstanding and everybody could clearly hear every word, and as a result laughed in all the right places.

“At no time were there any drop outs, unusual sounds or unwanted background noises from either the Korg Soundlink desk or Shure’s SLX-D Wireless Microphone System. A very successful event. I have an online gig coming up next month and I know what kit I’ll be using again on that show!”