Saxophonist David Sanborn Counts on QSC TouchMix in the Studio and on the Stage

Posted on: 12th December 2018

David Sanborn is considered the most influential saxophonist of the past two decades when it comes to the genres of modern pop, R&B, fusion and jazz.  The six-time Grammy Award winner initially took up the instrument while recovering from a childhood bout with polio, jammed with bluesman Albert King at only 14 years old, and played the iconic sax solo on David Bowie’s “Young Americans,” for starters. He’s played with countless artists and bands on the stage and in the studio, including James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Billy Joel, Linda Ronstadt, The Rolling Stones, Roger Daltry, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Al Jarreau, George Bensen and others. In both his studio and live environments, Sanborn relies on TouchMix-8 and TouchMix-16 compact digital mixers from QSC to craft his own in-ear monitor mix.

“The first time that I used the TouchMix- 16, the clarity and depth of tone reproduced by the EQ section made it a winner for me,” says David Sanborn. “I find the very same thing in the very compact and portable TouchMix 8. I have one in my suitcase for my hotel rooms, and the crew have one in the road cases for the dressing room.”

“In the studio, David uses the TouchMix-16,” says his longtime gear tech Steve Guest. “We connect his sax microphone directly to a Y-split. One leg goes to the TouchMix and the other goes to the main recording console. The console then feeds him stems such as guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and vocals if we have them. He prefers his in-ear monitors wired over wireless, so he simply uses the headphone out of the TouchMix.”

“That way, Sanborn doesn’t have to talk to anyone to change something in his mix,” adds tour manager William Roche. “Whether you’re recording or giving a live show, it can really interrupt the moment and affect your performance if you have to get a monitor engineer’s attention because you can’t hear yourself or something else you need to. With the TouchMix right there at his fingertips, there’s no danger of that.”

Team Sanborn also appreciates the audio quality of the TouchMix-16 at high volume levels. “David is the kind of guy who likes to hear things loud,” explains Steve Guest. “When we were monitoring through floor wedges, we’d be living on the brink of feedback every night. With the TouchMix and in-ears, he can have his mix as loud as he likes. Using the scenes function, he has a basic scene template that he can reload to start from scratch if necessary. This includes the EQ curve he likes for his sax, which we worked out in the studio.”

“The headphone output on the TouchMix is incredibly clean, even if you turn it up so loud that it hurts,” elaborates Roche with a chuckle. “Sanborn swears that there’s something about the circuitry in the TouchMix, including that EQ, which helps him hear his horn exactly how he likes it.”

The TouchMix-8 comes into play as Sanborn’s faithful traveling companion for both practice and working on ideas while on the road. “Even though David tours relentlessly, when he’s not onstage he’s still on that sax all day,” notes Roche. “He carries a TouchMix-8 in his luggage along with his sax mic, in-ears, and a few other essentials. He unpacks it in his hotel room wherever we are, and brings it into the dressing room. He uses it for practicing alone as well as with other musicians, and of course it can record ideas right to a USB stick.”

About QSC

QSC 50 and Forward celebrates a company founded over five decades ago, now a globally recognized leader in the design, engineering and manufacture of award winning high-performance audio products including power amplifiers, loudspeakers, digital mixers, digital signal processors (DSP), and the Q-SYS™ networked audio, video and control platform. Uniquely leveraging a broad range of technologies located under one roof, QSC products outperform the sum of their parts by delivering reliable, scalable and flexible solutions for professional installed, portable, production, corporate and cinema customers worldwide.

Courtesy of QSC

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Saxophonist David Sanborn Counts on QSC TouchMix in the Studio and on the Stage