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Case Studies


Jim Ebdon on tour with Maroon 5 and the MADIface

Jim Ebdon

RME MADIface PCI Express Card turns Mac Laptop into a compact mobile studio

These days, archiving nightly shows on tour is standard fare, with many A-list bands spending upwards of $50,000 at the drop of a hat to build a touring recording rig. But as engineer Jim Ebdon found on the current world tour with Maroon 5, he was able to turn his DiGiCo D5 console and Apple MacBook Pro into a powerful and flexible mobile workstation with RME’s HDSPe MADIface 128-Channel 192 kHz MADI PCI ExpressCard. And with the D5’s relatively diminutive footprint, he’s a hero among the crew, doing away with the headache of schlepping a ton of gear on the road.

"With this setup, I’m able to have a fully functioning recording studio on the road," Ebdon explains. "The MADIface card takes up virtually no space and I can get it in my computer bag. With that, along with the D5’s fantastic functionality and very small footprint—I’ve got one small rack at FOH and one on stage with one thin cable linking it all—I can get great results."

"I’ve spent a lot of money on previous tours setting up a Pro Tools system just to archive a show," he adds, "which a lot of bands seem to want to do these days. Fifty thousand dollars in the grand scheme of things, to a major artist is sort of nothing. But it’s kind of a headache because it's another whole big rack. It’s quite a lot of time to get it set up everyday and make sure it’s working properly. The MADIface is basically two cables and I can record and play back up to 56 straight, pre-EQ, pre-compressors, pre-mute, straight-from-the-mic preamp right into the computer. I’m using Apple Logic, but there are half a dozen other programs you can use just as a recording platform. And it’s rock solid. Out of the box, with the plug-ins it comes with for $499, it’s a fantastic program. It was so easy to set up for the first time, and the recordings sound great. We also have 6-7 cameras shooting the show every night on this tour, so we can easily sync up to the video, too. So for next to no money, a band could easily release a DVD from this as well."

"I’m a ´less is more´ kind of person," Ebdon confesses. "In rehearsals, we made sure that the sounds were good. I’m big on that you have to get the source sound right and choose the right microphone, and a good mixing console does the rest. And theoretically, I just push the fader up and it sounds fantastic. On this tour, we’re using 52 inputs at FOH with a 56-input stage rack. I could’ve let it get to 60-70 inputs, but three guitar mics on a guitar cabinet is a bit excessive. I use very little EQ purely because we’ve got the sound right on stage."