Chalk Up Good String Sound on Rush Tour to Lucky Timing
Brad Madix is the front-of-house engineer for Rush’s Clockwork Angels tour and he says it was just good timing that he was able to get exactly the kind of direct box he needed to get a good live sound out of the eight string musicians who are touring with Rush with acoustic violins and cellos.
When he first started looking at how to ampify the string sounds, his options were limited. He says in an April 24 piece in Mix magazine that he mounted piezo pick-ups to the bridges of the instruments, but the direct boxes available for relaying the sound to the mixing board were completely wrong for traditional acoustic instruments in such a high-gain, hard-rock environment.
As a result, he was going to have something custom made, but at the last minute he called Peter Janis, president of Radial Engineering, which had just come out with the kind of direct boxes he needed.
Janis said his company had just developed the box because he had been talking with acoustic musicians who said they needed better boxes for the kind of acoustic work they were doing live. “There was a definite need for a DI that would sound good with piezos,” Janis said in the Mix magazine piece. “The challenge is that unless the pickup sees a very high input impedance, it tends to sound peaky and edgy.”
Janis says he had just finished building a prototype of the box and he sent it to Madix for testing, and it ended up working well. So Radial sent pick-ups for all eight string misucians on the Rush tour and they’ve been using them throughout the tour.
“With the PZ-DI, we were able to integrate multiple piezoelectric devices seamlessly and with glorious results,” says Madix. “Anyone who is just plugging a PZ transducer into any random DI and hoping for the best is probably missing out on much better tonality and dynamic range. It’s nice that there are passionate designers and engineers out there paying attention to these details. Radial has once again proven they are a cut above the rest.”
Thanks to Rush is a Band for the head’s up on the Mix piece.