Dissecting Disclosure’s live set-up

Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, better known by the name Disclosure, have begun to rely on kit from RME and Ferrofish when out on tour in support of their much-acclaimed debut album Settle.

The Lawrences originally opted for a pair of small RME Fireface UC units to manage audio interface duties in and out of their on-stage computers, but after a triumphant homecoming gig in Brixton Academy in November 2014, they decided to go back to the drawing board and design their perfect playback and performance system that would suit their particular style of electronic music.

The new set-up made its debut at Parklife festival exactly one month ago (6 June 2015), followed by a performance at Wild Life – Disclosure and Rudimental’s own festival – the next day.

While the basic elements of the audio arrangement remain unchanged, the band wanted to add more instruments, as well as swap their analogue connections (between their on stage stations) to digital, in order to achieve the best possible clarity of sound arriving at the loudspeakers. They also wanted to introduce full system redundancy at every step, ensuring that there would never be a quiet moment.

On one side of the stage is Howard, who has a MainStage (Logic Pro) system running through an RME MADIface XT interface. Howard then feeds all of his sounds via MADI into Guy’s rig on the other side of the stage, where Guy is running Ableton Live.

But it’s not as simple as that, of course.

Firstly, there are actually two computers (A and B redundancy) at each station, each of which is equipped with a MADIface XT. All of the group’s instruments and drum pads are plugged into a Midas XL48 mic pre unit, which is capable of splitting the signal into two identical ADAT outputs. These outputs are then fed into two Ferrofish A16 Mk-IIs, which in turn feed into the A and B computers via the RME MADIface XTs. This way, there is redundancy even of the inputs to the computers.

Each computer then outputs a MADI stream that goes into a MADI switcher box. The switch outputs two identical MADI streams, which are fed from rack to rack – Howard’s to Guy’s. Once again, after Guy’s station, two MADI streams go to another switcher, again outputting two identical streams. This time, however, they go to an RME ADI6432 MADI interface, in order to make use of the unit’s AES converters.

Using RME’s Totalmix mixing and routing software, which is included with every RME interface, two duplicated sets of AES channels – 1-16 and 17-34 – are fed to FOH and monitor world respectively. Totalmix acts as the splitter system, and according to Alex Turner, who – along with Sean Lascelles – looks after Disclosure’s performance and playback systems, they “couldn’t work without it.” For broadcasting purposes, they also have the option to take analogue broadcast feeds out of the Ferrofish A16 Mk-II units, or a MADI stream coming off of the FOH or monitor racks.

Turner revealed how they were “very, very pleased to be using RME equipment on this project.” He continued: “It’s super reliable, and the drivers are super rugged. Throw in Totalmix as well and its an incredibly flexible system too. The build quality is rugged, and the sound quality is right up there as well. Also, it’s the right price. Expensive enough to know that the right stuff has been put in to make it right, but not so expensive that you feel you are just paying for a name.

"We know that RME are about the products rather than the name, and that really shows. All the things that RME strive for are exactly the things that we need on stage. Reliability, solid drivers, and especially the flexibility of Totalmix for this project. This system gives us top functionality and top reliability.

“This playback rig is very cutting edge – it’s got every functionality that any tech would dream of in a playback and performance system. The band wanted everything at their fingertips as if they had computers on stage, but the crew wanted 100% flexibility and reliability, and with RME that’s exactly what we got!”