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Lily Allen and The Streets engineer John Delf won’t leave home without Focusrite’s Liquid Channel: “It’s the first piece of equipment in my rack”.
John Delf may have started his career as a recording engineer, but it was only when the acts he produced insisted he engineer for them on tour that his passion for live sound was born.
Since then John’s become one of the most in-demand front-of-house operators in the business, working every major UK festival, including Glastonbury, T In The Park and V. Indeed, such are his live skills that he’s spent the last 12 months on tour with Lily Allen.
John believes that sound should be a very physical experience for the audience, so he’s constantly striving to deliver the best results he can. That’s why the first piece of equipment to go in his rack is the Liquid Channel, Focusrite’s revolutionary channel strip that can emulate any classic mic pre and compressor.
“The great thing about the Focusrite is that it’s so flexible. I’ve A/B'd the preamps with many different makes of mixer and I actually feel the Liquid Channel sounds better being used direct, rather than going through any desk preamp. For Lily I use the Valve preamp with the Urei 1176 compressor emulation.”
“This combination alone gives me a warm vocal, but sometimes I add in some valve harmonics with the dial on the front panel. Such subtleties can’t always be heard in a lot of venues, but when you get in a great sounding room it’s so nice to be able to play with these little nuances.”
“And like most singers Lily has a very quiet voice – she has exceptional pitching and tone, but I need to use every trick in the book to make it sit above her backing band. With Liquid Channel I find I can get an extra 5 to 10dB out of her vocal. It’s just enough to let it sit on top of the mix but without it sticking out like a sore thumb. The extra gain also helps avoid too many problems with feedback, another hazard that comes with the territory of a quiet singer.”
“When touring there’s only so much gear you can take with you, so everything has to justify its place. The Liquid Channel is just so flexible that it will always be in my rack, no matter what the occasion.”