January 26, 2023

Icelandic post-rocker trio Sigur Rós rely on KLANG and DiGiCo to deliver crashing waves of epically elemental music

Known for their ethereal sound, frontman Jónsi’s falsetto vocals sung in Icelandic and non-linguistic vocalisations, as well as their use of bowed guitar, Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós have recently completed their first world tour in nearly five years, delivering a whopping 70 shows across 28 countries. The band’s monitor Engineer, Throstur Albertsson, deployed KLANG’s immersive in-ear monitor mixing solution, using a DMI-KLANG card-equipped DiGiCo SD12 96 digital mixing console, supplied by new UK pro-audio equipment rental and support provider, 22live.

Albertsson was recommended to Sigur Rós in mid-2021, as they were starting to plan their 2022 tour.

“As the tour was going out for many months, I had a few meetings with the band to make sure the fit would be a good one, both for them and me,” recalls Albertsson. “At the time, my mixing abilities were secondary. It was all about seeing if we had that perfect ‘vibe’ between us.”

Off to a good start, the band commenced with rehearsals in Iceland mid-March, with Albertsson using the time as an opportunity to understand their sound preferences and prepare the equipment for the tour.

“DiGiCo’s SD12 96 console was already in full use by the band, together with an SD-Rack fitted with 32-bit in/out cards,” Albertsson explains. “Additionally, the band was using an IEM system and wedges as part of their standard setup.”

A few months later, with ‘the ship sailing smoothly’ through the tour, the equipment working well and with the band on to the US and Asia leg, Albertsson explains how a dinner gave him the idea to shake things up.

“Somewhere in Melbourne, Australia, I was having dinner with the band’s Tour Manager, Giles Woodhead, who has a background in sound engineering. While discussing the up-coming dates for the EU leg, Giles mentioned the KLANG 3D in-ear monitoring system and how he thought we should try it out on the rest of the tour. My initial thoughts were more on the negative side, ‘why to try something new mid-tour when nothing was broken?’ I was sceptical to say the least.”

However, Albertsson decided to investigate KLANG further and was recommended to talk to Pasi Hara, a monitor engineer who was one of the first adopters of the KLANG:fabrik and had upgraded to a DMI-KLANG card, fully integrated into DiGiCo Quantum and SD-Range consoles. “I spoke with Pasi. In short, he said, ‘once you try it, it will be hard to mix without it’. That proved to be true!” says Albertsson.

Since Albertsson was already using a DiGiCo SD12, it was a ‘no brainer’ for him to use the DMI-KLANG. “I get 64 channels into my KLANG processor and I can do 16 mixes with a latency of no more than 0.25ms. It worked smoothly and I found that implementing it with my existing show file was not a big deal, and my Snapshots would hold the information about placements and level for KLANG, with the setup the only thing stored on the card itself, which would include Groups, labels, etc,” he explains.

Woodhead put a call in to Paul Timmins, 22live’s Hire Director, to see how feasible it would be to supply KLANG for the remainder of the tour. “I was very happy to add KLANG to the spec,” comment Timmins. “For 22live, we were already fully immersed in the understanding that KLANG was likely to be in demand going forwards and we had fortunately already committed to the product ordering four DMI-KLANG for stock.”

Albertsson received his DMI-KLANG card-equipped DiGiCo SD12 96 digital mixing console at the Backstage Centre in London, just before the first show of the EU leg in September. “Once I was fully set up and ready, I started testing my ideas. I was completely blown away!” he exclaims.

Excited about the new possibilities that the immersive system could offer him, Albertsson admits he did not sleep for days because of the potential of the KLANG system. “I can’t properly describe that feeling,” he says. “It was like discovering the fun of mixing all over again! I’d been mixing for such a long time without anything that would really boost my creativity. The KLANG experience was a true revelation!”  

With the first show going well, Albertsson was still learning about KLANG and its possibilities, but he could already see the benefits of being able to make the mixes more detailed without ‘fighting for space’.

“I started to hear elements that would usually disappear in the mix, it was amazingly full of detail. Everything that was on KLANG had to go down in level.”

Throstur Albertsson

– ME for Sigur Rós

The integration of DMI-KLANG with DiGiCo console was another revelation for Albertsson, and gave him full confidence that he could always go back to the same setup as before by simply having a macro that would disable KLANG, with the show still running. “I never actually did that, but it was comforting to know that I could do it without messing things up,” he adds.

Albertsson also notes that the KLANG:app was a breeze to understand. “The setup needed a little homework, but it’s not rocket science, especially when you’ve got experience of using DiGiCo,” Albertsson says.

22live was also instrumental in making sure everything worked well. “They take such good care of us that we almost are not allowed to turn on our equipment unassisted,” jokes Albertsson. “They sent some of their team to help with the setup, and I could also liaise with David Bigg [Product Specialist, DiGiCo] for any additional questions.”

“We want to make sure that all our clients get that personal touch, and we want to go the extra mile,” comments Timmins. “The 22live ethos is to deliver quality, and we intend to approach every job in this way.”

Since starting to use KLANG, Albertsson says his workflow has not changed, but his mixes have improved and sound more natural.

“I am still working on my KLANG journey and all the possibilities the system can deliver, but I’m glad that I decided to try it out. It has really opened my eyes – and my ears! The band’s experience has also been positive; the little changes I do to the mixes using KLANG make a world of difference in terms of delivering naturally sounding mixes full of detail to them,” he concludes. “The thing I like most about KLANG is that it removes the clutter between the instruments, whilst sharing the same FQ range, which makes things sound a lot clearer. After the tour touched base in Iceland in November for the final show of 2022, I had already purchased a KLANG:vokal processor so I could explore the benefits of 3D in-ear mixes further. I guess what has been said before is true: “Once you try it, it will be hard to mix in-ears without it!”

Products used by Sigur Rós