Yamaha RIVAGE PM7 is the perfect fit for Nigel Pepper foals

Yamaha RIVAGE PM7 is the perfect fit for Nigel Pepper foals

Yamaha RIVAGE PM7 is the perfect fit for Nigel Pepper foals

Changing audio mixing systems is a big decision for live engineers. This can be fraught with pitfalls, especially if the specifications do not match practical experience. But, as Foals front-of-house engineer Nigel Pepper discovered, Yamaha’s RIVAGE PM series delivers on its promise.

Between April and August, Foals performed at several festivals, during which Nigel first used a Yamaha RIVAGE PM7 digital mixing system. Provided by Adlib, the experience has been so positive that it has already spelled it out for the group’s 2022 UK and European concerts.

“I had reached the point where I was ready to change the system I was using,” he says. “On paper the RIVAGE PM series looked attractive and the specs would match my workflow. I tried different systems, including using RIVAGE PM7 in rehearsal, and quickly found it was the right one for me. It really matched the way my brain works.

Nigel was introduced to Yamaha’s Tom Rundle, who visited Foals production rehearsals and spoke to Nigel through the system.

“I really wanted to see what I could get out of it and make sure I didn’t miss a thing,” says Nigel. “I cut my teeth on analog and have a pretty old-fashioned approach. Yamaha has transposed the ethics of analog very well to its digital systems and has designed the RIVAGE PM7 in a very intuitive way. I was immediately comfortable, I liked the tactile input, being able to get my hands on the controls I needed without thinking about it and being able to use my ears to make decisions, without being blinded by what’s on the screens.

Immediacy of hands-on experience is important for a band like Foals, where no two shows are ever the same.

“They are quite difficult to mix. They play a bit like a punk band, reacting to the vibe of the concert, ”says Nigel. “The custom layers feature really helps me with that, allowing me to fill the fader banks with just what I need to mix the show. There is no need to scroll through the banks, there is nothing buried in the menus. This means that I can have my hands on the faders, watching the stage, throughout the show.

With his analog roots complementing the Foals sound, Nigel continued to use external processing, but this has been reduced since he started using the Yamaha system. “The inclusion of the Bricasti reverb and Eventide processing is fantastic,” he says. “I always use external dynamics processing and was impressed with how constant the signal path remains. If you use an outboard motor with other digital systems, it may affect the sound, but RIVAGE PM maintains the gain structure and signal flow. It is a very clean path of insertion.

“I also really like the A and B choices for dynamics and EQ. I use a lot of scene automation, so having two different gate settings for a louder or quieter song is very useful.

With the RIVAGE PM7 assured of its place in Foals 2022, Nigel will make even more use of on-board processing by the end of the shows.

“I’m looking at the red and blue treatment of Rupert Neve Designs SILK,” he says. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure at first that it would make a big difference, but I love how it adds subtlety and drama at the same time. I’m still working to figure out how much I’m going to use it, but I’m sure this will be another way for the system to improve the Foals mixing experience live.

December 8, 2021

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