Rising Stars: Chris Pennells

Audio Pro International’s focus on the best of the industry’s young audio engineers continues this week with the latest addition to our Rising Stars section.

This week we catch up with engineer Chris Pennells…

Where did you study?
After completing a BTEC National Diploma in Music Practice with an additional National Award in Music Technology, I went on to study a BSc in Audio Technology at the University of Lincoln (UK). Of course, all the time I was meant to be studying I was away on tour and working in-house at the Engine Shed; so in a way I learnt more by doing that than studying.

Which band/project are you currently working on?
I’m currently working as technical manager at Camden Barfly on a freelance basis, overseeing maintenance and upkeep of equipment that takes a complete and utter ragging in what I consider to be the busiest venue in London (there’s a show on every day, then a late show Friday and Saturdays, not including four-five matinee shows we have per month and countless all-dayers). I also mix three of the nights here, and supervise a technical team of three other sound engineers and three lighting engineers/stage managers; everything fits nicely around playing in my rock band (Deaf Havana) too. We’ve just had ten days of sell-out shows with HMV’s Next Big Thing so I’m currently just fixing xlrs and purchasing new gubbins that have broken through wear and tear.

Where are you based at the moment?
I’m living in Kilburn at the moment, which is only a 30 minute walk to Camden or ten minute bus ride.

Which audio console are you currently using? And how many channels?
Day to day I’m using a Yamaha LS9-32. We also have a 24 and a 32 channel Soundcraft Series 2, which are used for matinee shows in the downstairs bar and for recording of specific events. I’ve also just installed eight returns to stage in the live room, so we now have the capability of four stage mixes and eight line mixes. Not bad for a 220 cap room!

What decision process was behind the choice of this console?
The LS9 is a great small digital board, and for the venue it’s perfect. We’re not nearly using all of what it is capable of; there’s obviously the dream of expanding it to include a Waves Soundgrid so I can use all my favourite Waves plugins on it.

Do you use any outboard effects/EQ, and if so, what are they used on and why?
I’m using mostly all in-desk digital effects and EQ. One trick I’ve discovered with the LS9 is applying a very soft comp (1:7) to the overall mix with a short to medium attack and release, which really brings out the low end and sparkle in the mix. I’ve tried this on other non-Yamaha boards but it doesn’t have the same effect – probably just the way the algorithms are written in conjunction with our Turbo system.

What is your console of choice?
Soundcraft Vi1 hands down. The functionality and size of it compared to other digital boards is incredible, not to mention its indisputable sonic capabilities. The Vi6 is also great, but I find the Vi1’s surface much easier to use.

If you could tour with any band/artist who would it be?
I’d love for Poison The Well to reform just so I could mix them. Also wouldn’t mind a shot at mixing Bjork and Gotye.

Photo by Marcus Maschwitz.

To get involved in our Rising Stars column, whether you are an engineer who is new to the industry and would like to be featured, or an experienced engineer who would like to nominate a particular student/apprentice, please contact Audio Pro International editor Daniel Gumble on daniel.gumble@intentmedia.co.uk or 01992 535646.

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