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Chris Bergstrom Assembles Campfire Audio Toolkit for Mixing On and Off-Stage

In-demand engineer on the importance of accuracy and how Solstice and Equinox IEMs help him run the genre gamut

 

Portland, OR, January 18, 2022- Sound Engineer Chris Bergstrom started in professional audio nearly 20 years ago, drawn to front of house due to his passion for curating live sound experiences. Since 2013, he has been responsible for the evolving live sound of cult rock group and fellow Portlanders The Dandy Warhols. In contrast to the rock n’ roll lifestyle, Bergstrom has also worked regularly with The Oregon Symphony, requiring him to be prepared for wildly different audio concepts on a regular basis. In order to deliver consistently across the span of his workload, Bergstrom has assembled a favored collection of Campfire Audio in-ear monitors (IEMs) to serve his every need in both live and studio situations.

Live sound considerations

Bergstrom’s experience has led him to understand that each project has its own unique requirements. His goal is to achieve those needs adding as little of his own vision in it as possible. “I don’t believe audio engineers should insert much of themselves in the project. It’s my job to translate it from the artist to achieve their vision.” In working with singer and lead creative director of The Dandy Warhols, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Bergstrom collaborates with the leadman to provide a larger than life experience. Taylor-Taylor has creative intent regarding  the sound for every song, record, and period. He often alters the sound for live performances to deliver a new experience that differs from the recorded version. To accomplish these effects, the engineer and the frontman conduct virtual playback from the FOH console. After Bergstrom records the sound check he is joined by Taylor-Taylor so the pair can mix the live show together in each venue. This offers the singer transparency in hearing how his vocals/guitar will sound to the audience, while also permitting Bergstrom to save scenes, drive the delays and other techniques. The symphony, on the other hand, doesn’t require any additional changes like reverbs and delays because the goal is to translate live sound reinforcement of what is being played on stage to the audience. Bergstrom uses the virtual playback method with the symphony as well. “This experience was mind blowing for them to hear the full orchestration without needing to be on stage. It allows the musicians to connect with what the audience is hearing as opposed to just guessing.”

Equipment elements

Given Bergstrom has different consoles to accommodate the different spheres of sound that he mixes, he depends on IEM’s from Campfire Audio, Solstice and Equinox specifically, to provide ultimate monitoring to ensure consistency. “I’ll have a different console on the upcoming tour in Europe, so I used one that we have to practice and get comfortable with before we fly over. I take my Cascades, Solstice, and Equinox everywhere with me for various reasons.” On tour, he’ll have a wireless pack from the stage to hear commands and use for mix reference with the headphones for SBL, PFL soloing, and checking various elements individually for soundcheck, and during the show. Recently, the Oregon symphony performed on the waterfront in Portland and Bergstrom mixed that broadcast Live to FM for the first time. Using a dual output console he was able to use Solstice in one ear, and Equinox in the other and headphones separately and ensure all the levels were precise and found that the fidelity was phenomenal.

Quality control

Bergstrom’s initial experiments with in-ear monitors didn’t meet his needs sonically or functionally. He found himself drawn to Campfire Audio due to the brand’s Hi-Fi origins and durability. “I think it changes the whole vibe when perfect audio is the founding concept, then designing for professional use around that.” Intentionally rough on his first pair from Campfire he still found the sound quality unbelievable. “I went back and compared again to confirm that it wasn’t the illusion of something new, but that wasn’t the case,” he said. With a wide array of applications, Bergstrom has adopted several Campfire Audio models for both personal and professional use. For recreational listening he prefers Equinox, noting he can get lost in the music. “They have a very pleasant boost and with no outside sound interfering it’s easy to escape.” Solstice is his choice for final reference in the studio and FOH mixing because of their accurate low end response. “Especially when there isn’t an ideal mix position at a venue or similar situations where it’s difficult to maneuver I’ll align the mix bus with the distance from the PA to eliminate an echo slapback. Then with one in and one out, I can hear the house and make accurate judgments.” Due to their custom fit, they also function as earplugs to protect his hearing for certain shows where he isn’t mixing and doesn’t require listening at a high volume. “I couldn’t say which I like better, but they are two different tools in my arsenal and I love that I have both,” he claims.

In the studio

Bergstrom found himself doing more studio work during quarantine thanks to his home studio set up and a plethora of tracks in the vault to work on. The Dandy Warhols distributed a living “world-tour” collection of 52 tracks releasing one song a week (available now on bandcamp) that he had previously recorded from live performances from around the world.  His preference has shifted to IEMs over speakers for studio work, which he’s noticed is becoming more common in the industry as technology advances.  Because they relay a true flat, and have incredible precision, he turns to Solstice for final reference. “Over the years, accurate audio has become increasingly important to me. I don’t use the term ‘good audio’ because it’s so subjective. Accurate audio is what I need. Using in-ears and headphones for reference, I want to know this is exactly how it was meant to be presented to me and then I can use my judgement. Unless it’s required for a specific project, I don’t appreciate it when a piece of equipment adds its own flavor.” His attention to detail paired with Campfire Audio’s ability to provide the clarity and precision that he requires has earned the brand his trust and loyalty. “I’ll try new stuff if anything just to confirm that CA is the best. They’re on the cutting edge and I can’t see myself using anything other than CA.”

For more information about The Dandy Warhols, please visit: https://www.dandywarhols.com/

For more information about The Oregon Symphony, please visit: https://www.orsymphony.org/

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