Front of House Engineer Chris Hoff chose the monitors to deliver clear, consistent sound in a variety of venues
Chris Hoff, Front of House Engineer for the legendary rock band Styx, relies on JBL 7 Series Master Reference Monitors to help him dial in studio-quality sound during live performances.
Styx is one of the most popular classic rock bands of all time, best known for chart-topping hits like “Renegade,” “Come Sail Away” and “Lady.” In 2017, Styx released The Mission, their 16th studio album and first original release in over 10 years. When the band began touring to support the new record, they enlisted the help of Front of House Engineer Chris Hoff to ensure world-class sound for every performance. In order to deliver consistent sound in a wide range of venues, including some with less-than-desirable mix positions, Hoff relies on JBL 7 Series Monitors to make sure his live mixes stack up to Styx’s studio recordings.
“We multi-track every show and I needed a way to compare the live mix I’m doing to the albums,” said Hoff. “The only way to really replicate what’s going to be coming out of a PA is to have reference monitors in front of you. It makes it easier for me to bounce back and forth between the album and my multi-tracks to try to match up effects, balances and panning. The 7 Series monitors give me a great reference to what I’m actually sending to the PA. When I’m in a really bad mix position, I’m basically mixing off of these and trusting that what I’m feeding to the speakers is translating to the audience.”
JBL 7 Series Master Reference Monitors are equipped with state-of-the-art driver technology to deliver unparalleled output with greater dynamic range and extended frequency response. Custom transducers utilize patented JBL Differential Drive technology for hyper-linear low-end performance. Hoff relies on the impressive bass response of JBL 7 Series monitors to help him create balanced mixes with plenty of low-end.
“The phase response on the 708 monitors is awesome, they don’t hide anything,” said Hoff. “The transient response is exactly what I need out of reference monitors—and the low-end is definitely there. I can make accurate judgments on what I’m doing on the bottom-end of my mix.”
Each JBL 7 Series monitor is equipped with a proprietary JBL 2409H high-frequency compression driver to provide extraordinary output with a wide dynamic range. Unlike traditional dome tweeters which use limiting circuitry, 7 Series monitors’ innovative compression design produces very low distortion even at high SPLs. Thanks to the silky-smooth response of the 7 Series monitors, Hoff is able to translate every detail of a performance through the PA system.
“I felt that what I was doing on the 708 monitors translated better through a full field PA than the other models did—especially with JBL technology like the VTX Series and the A Series,” said Hoff. “The clarity, the low distortion and the transients all translated well from the 708 monitors to the PA. You don’t realize how loud it is until you pull out a meter and go, ‘oh okay, yeah got it.’ The distortion is so low that you don’t have that perception of the SPL. The 7 Series have no problems pushing over the top of the flown PA level when I need it to.”
Before each show, Hoff uses the previous night’s multi-track recording to tune the PA system. JBL 7 Series monitors provide him with the clear, detailed sound he needs to accurately identify and react to the subtle acoustical challenges of each venue—and according to the fans, Styx has never sounded better.
“One of the blessings, and possible curses, of a live performance is that the audience will in no uncertain terms let you know how you are doing,” said Hoff. “They either comment at front of house on their way out of the venue or speak to the band after the show. Fortunately, I have received overwhelmingly positive responses from the concertgoers. Much of this I have to attribute to the band being exceptional performers. As long as I can get my process done and get out of their way, the band shines through.”
Styx is starting the next leg of their US tour in Sugar Land, Texas on October 3 before ending in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 19. Tickets are available now at styxworld.com.