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Steve Harley tour features Tannoy VQ Live

Steve Harley and the ever-changing Cockney Rebel have been on tour ever since the 1970s - and for the current tour, FOH engineer tried out Tannoy's VQ Live. It seems he was impressed.

With an extremely varied career that has gone from London’s folk clubs in the early 1970s to the top of the UK and European charts alongside his band Cockney Rebel, Steve Harley remains one of the UK’s most revered musical talents. The Performing Rights Society has said that his hit Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) is one of the most played records in British broadcasting, while Rod Stewart has called Harley “One of the finest lyricists the UK has ever produced.”

For the recent tour, Harley’s FOH engineer Andy Linklater was looking for a system that would offer superior definition at all levels, and was intrigued by what Tannoy’s VQ Live could offer.

“I’d heard about the loudness of the system, but I was really looking forward to hearing how it performed at a lower level,” he said. “My big praise for it, really, is the vocal definition. I mean, obviously, there is the volume side of it as well; it is a very powerful system. But the main reason for bringing it on the Steve Harley Acoustic Tour is that I wanted to hear it with an acoustic band. This band has got quite a range of instruments, dulcimer, violin, full range piano for instance, and I wanted to see if it was musical as well as being loud, which it is, I’m pleased to say. The Steve Harley set is very dynamic; it goes from a whisper to very loud with seconds. The clarity and vocal definition offered by this system are definitely the strongest points in my view.”

With a wide range of experience in FOH engineering that has seen him work with countless artistes in thousands of venues across the world, Linklater has used pretty much every other system available, from festival line arrays to house systems from various leading brands.

“Without doubt, VQ Live has outperformed any systems I have used before,” continued Linklater. “It is probably the best point source box I have ever used in my career. I don’t know if I can say any more than that. Because it is self-powered, the speed that you can set up is another big plus. It is very user friendly, and although I did bring my laptop and the software to tweak around with the system, I set it up for the very first gig, and haven’t touched it since. Occasionally, I would adjust the frequencies for the room, but I just didn’t feel the need to play around with the system settings. It’s running pretty much flat on the EQ on the box, the crossover point is set at about 100Hz with the 2×18 (VNET 218DR Live) subs, so it’s ideal.”

This tour has seen Andy cope with venues such as Victorian theatres, places where traditional architecture often results in challenging acoustics when it comes to introducing a live PA. The flexibility of this system has, according to Tannoy, meant he could negotiate the different venues with the minimum of fuss, using a VQNET 60 Live top per side and coupling these with a VNET 218DR Live each side. This set up is said to give comparable SPL performance to a large format 4-box flown line array system, but with far greater coherence and consistent broadband coverage; beyond this, given that VQ Live is fully integrated with on-board amplification, DSP and network control (via Tannoy’s proprietary VNET system), there is no need for additional outboard power and processing, hence setting the system up and tuning to each venue is quick and easy.