Engineer Kyle Gerhart is on his way to the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., talking with us from his cell phone as the tour van drives into town. He’s running sound for Zipper Club tonight, the direct support for the rock band the Sounds (who are also known to rock an OM Series mic on stage). Kyle’s stage is all-Audix, including the D Series on drums, OM6s on vocals, and a good stock of i5s.
Originally from just outside Philadelphia, Kyle started as an engineer in various churches before touring with national acts. To date, the young engineer has worked with a wide range of artists, from singer-songwriter Ron Pope to rock bands Alien Ant Farm, Puddle of Mud, Drowning Pool, Saliva, Trapt, and Saving Abel on the Make America Rock tour.
Kyle’s fresh approach to live sound is seen in his ability to create an organic and well-rounded sound palette on stage. His favorite vocal mic to use is the OM6. “As an engineer, I like the fact that [the OM6] is a full regular-output microphone, which is nice for when you’re not carrying your own console. If you crank the preamp on an OM7, sometimes, if it’s not a good pre, the mic doesn’t play as well; with the OM6, with it being regular output, I still have regular gain structure. The pattern and control of the mic is great, as well as the frequency response.”
Kyle has a slightly different take on the D4 from many modern engineers. “I actually use the D4s for snare top and bottom,” he says. “It worked out one day totally by accident-I ran out of i5s, but I had two extra D4s hanging around, so I strapped the D4s up on the D-vices and threw them on snare drum, and I haven’t gone back. I like the fullness of it; the top end clarity is good and it gives me the bottom end on the snare drum. I don’t have to add EQ in. I’m a very subtractive EQ engineer-I believe in taking out the bad instead of trying to push more stuff into [the mix]. So with good mic placement and gain structure, using those mics gives me the tonality that I want. It just works.”
He says there are many times on tour in the past few years that have seemed surreal to him, working now with the bands he grew up listening to. “One of the first [moments] was back when I was working with Ron Pope. I told him I used to put his song ‘A Drop in the Ocean’ on mix CDs for girls that I liked back in middle school and high school. It was funny going from putting his music on CDs for those girls to now working with Ron and him being one of my close friends.”
With a rigorous touring schedule, Kyle says having a happy and stable home life keeps him centered, and a love of the job keeps him going. “I just love what I do,” Kyle says. “Even in the worst times of touring, at the end of the day, I still get to mix a rock show. I really like my job.”
Kyle points with gratitude to people in the industry who have given him opportunities and guided him. His suggestion for new engineers is to seek out as many chances to learn as possible. “Don’t be afraid to go to shows and talk to the engineers. One of my biggest influences is Eddie Mapp. I met him when I was at a festival mixing a band. I walked up to him and I said, ‘Hey man, you’re killing it-I want to know what you’re doing.’ He took me under his wing and taught me a whole bunch of stuff and opened up a lot of network possibilities. So I’d say, for young engineers, learn as much as you can from as many people as you can.”
For more info on Kyle and his sound company, InPhase Productions LLC, visit www.inphase-productions.com.
How did you get your start as an engineer?
I started off as a live engineer working with church bands when I was growing up. While I was in college for recording engineering, I worked for a local sound company as a live engineer to pay my bills. Since then I’ve always been a live sound engineer. I am currently working with an artist named Ron Pope, as his tour manager and FOH engineer, as well as running a small touring company that produces concerts for NASCAR.
How did you hear about Audix? What Audix microphones are you using and for what applications?
I first heard about Audix while I was in college for recording. The D6 was by far the most popular microphone for kick drum applications, so I bought one. It wasn’t until years later that I ran into Eddie Mapp, who shared some of his wisdom and ideas on different ways to use Audix microphones. I ended up replacing my existing microphone locker with almost entirely Audix mics, including the D6, D4, i5, ADX51, OM6 and OM7’s. The two microphones that I end up using on every show are a the D6 for kick and OM6 for vocals.
What was the impetus for switching from what you were using previously?
The reason for switching to Audix was twofold. The Audix products gave me the solid sound that I was looking for with the reliability I needed for touring. I also received great customer service and the feeling of family when working with members of their team, which is something you can’t put a price tag on.
Any noticeable results?
One word: Consistency. I am able to work with almost any band and get a consistent, solid sound. As long as the source sounds good, I know that the mics will translate that to the PA every time.
What are your favorite features of the microphones you’re using?
I think my favorite feature on most of the mics is the pickup patterns and how precise they are. The hypercardioid pattern is great for live or recording because the sound is focused and there is minimal bleed from other sources. It’s especially helpful when you have multiple live vocal microphones on a stage with live drums.
Have the Audix microphones helped to solve any particular challenges for you?
Before I began using the OM6 for vocals, on smaller stages I would almost never need overheads on the drums because of the bleed into the vocal microphone downstage. With the OM6, I find in most cases that I now can use the overheads, which gives me more control of the mix and a fuller drum sound.
Any good Audix anecdotes?
Originally, I was using i5s for snare drum like many other engineers. One show I ran out of i5’s and ended up using a D4 on snare. I liked it so much that I haven’t switched back.
Any special tips on how to use the microphones?
Like any microphone, placement is everything. Play around with moving the mic before touching the EQ. These microphones will give you the sound you are looking for; you just have to place them correctly. If you do that, you will need minimal EQ and will make setup much faster.