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Tool live audio system upgrade

Cool article came across my desk this morning, in which Tool sound blokes Liam Halpin and Alan “Nobby” Hopkinson discuss some new audio hardware the band has employed in it’s Fear Inoculum shows:

Late last year, as fans eagerly awaited the release of Tool’s first new album in 13 years, Fear Inoculum, Halpin and FOH engineer Alan “Nobby” Hopkinson introduced an overhead speaker system to add an extra dimension to the art-metal band’s soundscapes. “I wanted it to be psychedelic, random movements that caught people out,” says Hopkinson, who has worked with the band for 20 years. “We just wanted to make the experience larger.”

“We refer to it as the effects P.A.,” says Halpin, who rejected the new generation of spatial sound systems, which require five or more speaker hangs across the stage, in favor of custom-designing a rig that would not obstruct sightlines. “The whole point of an immersive system is to enhance the show for the majority of the audience,” he says. “But how do you do surround sound for the upper bowl of an arena?”

And good news for Aussie fans as well:

Nobby originally planned to use the effects P.A. only on the initial U.S. leg following the album release, “but now we’re taking it everywhere,” he says, including the upcoming run in Australia and New Zealand.

“The band made that call. That’s rewarding.”

Looking forward to checking it out in a few weeks time!

Tool live audio system upgrade
Bringing the band’s immersive sound to the masses are (l-r): Liam Halpin, system tech; Beau Alexander, monitors; Nobby, FOH engineer; Dan Buckley, P.A./stage tech; and Jerod Untiedt, crew chief and monitor tech.
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4 years ago

And it only takes 862 microphones to set up Danny’s drums.

4 years ago

We had tickets–stage level, dead center–in DC. Arguably best seats in the house…if not for the 2 ft. diameter trunk of power cables running up to the ceiling right in front of us. Don’t want to bitch too much, because the setup is impressive, just keep in mind when picking your seats. Oh, and there were seven (7!) guys working the soundboards.

Reply to  davincidreamz
4 years ago

A lot of people “hang out” at the FOH sound area. Only one of them is actively mixing the show (Nobby) with his assistant (Liam) keeping an eye on the system and taking care of the effects PA stuff. So, only 2. The rest are not actively involved during the show.
If you include lighting, lasers, video, and automation (the riser behind sound), that’s 4 more people, for a total of 6 actual working crew at FOH during the show.

Reply to  junior
4 years ago

Very cool. Thanks for the clarification, Junior. One of the coolest shows I’ve witnessed was at Red Rocks in 2010 (first night), with thick walls of lasers above our heads, bouncing off the rocks, etc. Such an immersive, 3D experience. You guys are the best.

4 years ago

I saw them in the nosebleeds last week and the sound was the best I’ve ever heard from them (my 7th tool show). I wasn’t really thinking about how it was achieved technically but I was in disbelief how good it sounded. This article explains it!
You’re in for a treat in Australia!

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