Reference Laboratory Looking Ahead in Pro Audio
Jerry Barnes | Reference Cables, c'est Chic!



Jerry Barnes has produced, performed and written for artists such as Roberta Flack, Eumir Deodato, Chaka Khan, Carly Simon, Ashanti, Stevie Wonder, Patti Labelle, Raul Midon, Queen Latifah, Diana Ross, Chic, Vanessa Williams, Donald Fagen, Katreese Barnes, ....and has been playing bass in the Nile Rodgers & Chic Organization since the early 90’s, bringing back the bass riffs of the late Bernard Edwards’ , as well as performing in his unique style.

The passion I feel for this job is what makes me always want to improve my live mixe, and having already adopted the Reference Laboratory RMC01 micropohone cable, I wanted to present the RIC01 to Jerry Barnes, as well as to Nile Rodgers. As FOH engineer with Chic since 2004, I’d like to ask Jerry and then Nile, to share some feelings about an element that usually is taken for granted by many musicians when building their personal instrumental setup. Thanks first of all and mainly to Angelo Tordini, CEO and founder of Reference Laboratory, I am a convinced supporter of his products, and like the idea of offering this test again.

During the winter of 2013, we were on tout with RTL in Germany, which saw Chic performing with Kool & The Gang, Al McKay’s Earth Wind & Fire Experience, Sister Sledge and Imagination. One day at sound check, I asked Jerry Barnes to try the RIC01, and although he agreed to try it, he told me that he would however use his standard high-end cable, feeling already confident with its response. We connected the RIC01 directly to his amp and the first impression was that the level had gained a bit, as well as boosting the low mids, especially when playing softly. He smiled and started with his “slapping” technique and we both noticed that we were no longer witnessing the “clipping” effect usually present with his other cable, as well as extended harmonics. His surprise was such that he said this was a new sound for him and not being used to it, he would have preferred using his previous cable for this show.

The following day, Jerry asked me to try the cable, witnessing the same results, and he decided to use the RIC01 for an entire show this time. To complete the audio chain, I also added a short RIC01 link between his volume and tuner pedals, an 8ft RIC01 from his pedal output to the D.I. box, another short RIC01 link from the D.I. to the amplifier head, and one RMC01 XLR cable to the D.I. box’s output. We were already using a RMC01 with the Audix D6 on the cabinet, so now the signal chain was complete.
That night, the overall FOH mix saw a noticeable improvement, although we were performing in a very reverberant sports arena in Frankfurt, as well as the feeling that the bass was playing within feet from my face. The bass mix was finally more centered and in focus. During the show, I found myself bypassing the EQ settings on the bass D.I. channel, bringing it back to “flat”, as well as decreasing the compressor’s action. The dynamic differences during the frequent musical “break downs”, were now more evident, allowing me to avoid riding his channel fader and without ever losing the bass punch and the grooves that characterize Chic’s music.

After the show he told me that he had the feeling that he there was more “space” for the his notes through his wedge and amplifier, as well as feeling a good vibe from what was coming back from the FOH system. We both weren’t expecting such an obviuous difference. Unfortunately, we lost a bag with some of our cables, including the 20 foot RIC01 used on his instrument. Not having any spares, Jerry had to go back to his previous quality cable, and with a bit of disapointment, and I had to go back to his EQ, compression, and fader riding.

After the RTL tour, I’ve been preparing ahead of time for our summer tour, asking Angelo to supply me with some more RIC01 ables to last us for the rest of the summer. I will also have a complete Reference RIC01 cable setup for Nile Rodgers’s guitar rig (read article) as well. Meanwhile, Jerry had also ordered a series of Reference Laboratory RIC01 and RMC01 cables in different lengths to use in his suite at Avatar Studios in New York.

30 agosto 2013, Marbella (Spagna)

JR – Jerry, as you know, we’ve been recently using the RIC01 and RMC01 on Nile’s setup as well, apparently with excellent results. Just like Nile, and as a record producer, you often sit behind a mixer in the studio, aware of your sound and the equipment you use aimed towards a quality result. What actually got you into using Reference Cables?

JB One of the nice things about this job is that we learn every day, reciprocally, from those we work with, creating a friendly relationship and collaboration. It’s a constant team work and we constantly exchange musical experiences, personal methods and techniques that serve mainly to make each one of us better at the job. This allows us to grow and improve our techniques and to choose equipment that helps expressing ourselves through our music. Once you’ve worked hard to get your sound, it’s not easy to suddenly change everything and try something new. But, as I was saying before, we must always be open to constructive ideas and suggestions. When you showed up with these new cables, I was reluctant, but curious as well. My first impression was that there had been an increase in level and a broader bandwidth, but being used to my sound with what I was using, I didn’t feel like making a sudden decision and change everything. I then accepted to try a second time because I wanted to understand if this would have been an improvement, and now I feel more confident. We were already using the RMC01 on the Audix D6 on my cabinet, appreciating the difference. Now with the RIC01 on my bass and pedals, I feel comfortable.

JR – So, you are telling me it was worth trying these Reference cables?

JBAbsolutely! As I was saying, we get bind ourselves to our habits at time, and trying something new can only be an advantage. If you don’t try, you can never tell if your method was better than another one. If you don’t like it, you can always turn back. In my case, the live sound of my bass is has definitely improved in presence and dynamics, even when we perform in difficult and reverberant venues.

JR – Jerry, you’re surely one of the most “dynamic” bass players I’ve ever worked with. How much of your performance depends also on what you hear from your monitor or cabinet?

JBThe different acoustic response you get in every venue can easily affect a musician’s performance. Marco’s (Dellatorre) monitor mixing is always perfect, but lately it has been improved also thanks to the Reference cables. I am very careful about what I can perceive coming from the FOH system, especially when I leave my position on stage, away from my monitor’s range. Knowing that the definition of what I’m playing has improved allows me to feel comfortable and think about the music, feeling free to express myself without holding in my dynamic enthusiasm. Watching the audience ract positively to what they are hearing gives me even more confidence. This goes to prove that the whole team (band and sound men) is working with the right equipment, to reach the optimum result.

JR - Jerry, to wrap this short interview up, what elements should be carefully chosen by musicians that want to have more control of their sound, whether they are beginners or experts?

JBI believe that the basic key is to know your instrument completely and to make sure your it is always in shape mechanically and electronically and to practice different tools for connecting it. No sound engineer, cable or amplifier – only because it has that special brand name - will ever miraculously make your instrument work better, but constantly upgrading and testing of what is available on the market, you can find what will eventually make you unique in your sound and musical style. Before using Reference cables, I was using other excellent products and thought I had found what was best for me. Now, I know that a better result is possible. I must also thank Angelo for having introduced me to a reliable and well built product, as well as supporting you into bringing this improvement.

JOHN RYAN is Tour Production Manager & FOH Engineer for Nile Rodgers & Chic



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