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On the Long Road With Yanni
by Stephanie Fletcher

Yanni—a multi-platinum record-selling, self-taught musician who mixes his own studio recordings, born in Greece and educated at the University of Minnesota—embarked on a short five-week tour from March 4 to April 8, playing a handful of smaller arenas in preparation for a larger tour later this year. FOH engineers Tom Sterling and Anthony Stabile, who is also the crew chief, and monitor engineer Paul Sarault have all worked together for many years, and are used to mixing to Yanni’s high standards.

Tom Sterling has known Yanni since they were young men living in Minnesota and has been mixing him for 30 years. “He joined a band that I was living with back in Minneapolis,” says Sterling. “I was working with another band, but we lived in the same house where he had a studio. I never really worked for his bands back in Minneapolis, except for maybe a couple of shows. And then I moved out to L.A., and he moved out to L.A., and once he started touring, I assumed the position. We have a great relationship.”

Anthony Stabile has only been with Yanni 10 short years in comparison, but that’s been plenty of time to become an integral part of the production. In addition to mixing with Sterling at Front of House, Stabile is the crew chief. “I oversee the entire production, the entire set-up, make sure the P.A. functions correctly and make sure that our entire sound crew gets taken care of and does what they’re supposed to do,” he says. He and Sterling had worked together before Yanni, which is how he was brought into the production. “I was working for Neil Diamond at the time, and we were on a break, and Tom asked me to come help out. I went to help out for a short period, and it turned into 10 years.”

Paul Sarault has mixed Yanni’s monitors for the last 12 years. “It’s a great challenge,” Sarault says, “because he knows what he wants. He owns a studio and he mixes all his own records, so he’s very technologically savvy. We all have to keep up with him.”

The engineers face other challenges besides the musician’s demanding technical specifications. With 27 people onstage, including Yanni, some singers and an orchestra, Sarault has his hands full when it comes to monitors. “The challenge is monitor mix management,” he says. “There are really a lot of people to take care of onstage. It’s a lot of people to keep an eye on, but I like to keep busy. Everyone’s in-ear with Future Sonics; there are no wedges anywhere. It’s a lot of people to keep a handle on. Most of the orchestra members get their own mix, but Yanni likes to hear the full mix, everybody in his mix.” In addition to the Future Sonics earpieces, Sarault uses Shure and Sennheiser wireless.

Sterling and Stabile are mindful of the number of people onstage as well. “ There are a lot of sensitive mics, a lot of open, hot mics,” Stabile notes. “And there’s a lot of input, 90 inputs or so.” In addition, Yanni used the short tour to test some new material. “Every song is different,” adds Sterling. “It’s not a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ kind of show.”

Sterling and Stabile share FOH duties on two Yamaha PM-4000s. “They’re great. They’ve been real workhorses,” comments Stabile. “They’re definitely not state of the art anymore, but we’ve had them for a long time, and they’re holding up; they’ve definitely paid for themselves.”

Yanni owns almost all the equipment, including the consoles and the P.A., which is comprised of L-Acoustics V-DOSC, dV-DOSC and ARCS. The sound crew was instrumental in making the purchasing decisions, including the entire P.A., cases, boards, snakes, etc. “We heard the V-DOSC system when it was first introduced in the U.S.,” notes Sterling. “We brought it into the studio one day, plugged it in and said, ‘that’s the one.’”

Sarault handles monitors from a Yamaha PM-4000M and a DM-2000. “It’s just incredibly reliable gear that works every day. We don’t have time to do a lot of maintenance. These two consoles have never broken; we use them every day.” But he admits that it might not be long before they make the jump to digital. “I think we’re going to do a couple more years with these then change everything to digital. We’re just waiting to see if there are any other market players who are going to come in, besides PM1Ds and Digicos. I’ve tried all of them so far; I love them. I just finished a series of stuff on a Digico and it was fantastic.”

Stabile concurs, “We’ll probably go digital in about two years or so. We really don’t know what we’re going to go to yet; we’re kind of waiting to see what happens in the next two years.”

Sterling isn’t quite as excited about purchasing new digital boards. “I’m afraid of digital,” he jokes, “but I could go half and half, like the new DM5000 maybe, something where it’s not completely digital. I’m still an analog guy. And for this show, I don’t think we need total digital.”

Sterling mixes others as well as Yanni in his off time, but he says he’ll stick with Yanni as long as he’s still touring. “I went to the dance with him,” he says, “I’ll leave with him.”

Yanni and the crew are gearing up for another, longer, tour starting in late October or early November, going into January or February. Though the tour was a short one, it brought a great show to a wide range of Yanni fans across the country. Sterling says, “The audience is so wide ranged—everything from kids to grandparents, and everybody in between.” And despite the sophistication of the music, the sound team doesn’t garner criticism from the fans. “We never get any complaints,” claims Sterling. “We get thanks.”

Band Sound Engineer/Crew Chief: Anthony Stabile
Band Sound Engineer: Tom Sterling
Monitor Engineer: Paul Sarault
System Engineers: Greg “Chico” Lopez, John Drane, Mark Bradley

Consoles: 2 Yamaha PM4000
Speakers: L-Acoustics V-DOSC, dV-DOSC, ARCS, subs
Amps: QSC Powerlight
Processing: Drawmer gates and compressors, Aphex gates, Lexicon reverbs, TC Electronic reverbs and delays, Yamaha reverbs and delays, Tascam CD recorders, XTA crossovers, BSS crossovers and equalizers, Klark Teknik equalizers
Mics: Audio-Technica 4033, ATM-35, ATM-25, Shure SM57, SM 58, B&K 4006, Sennheiser MKH-40, MD 431II, Sony ECM-66, Shure Beta 87 A UHF wireless

Consoles: Yamaha PM4000M, Yamaha DM2000
Processing: TC Electronic reverbs, Aphex compressors, Drawmer gates, BSS compressors, Presonus mic preamps, Focusrite mic preamps
Amps: Rane headphone amps, Symetrix headphone amps
PEMs: 4 Shure PSM 700 systems,
8 Sennheiser EW 300 systems,
Future Sonics PEMs
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Yanni Fan
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To Anthony, Tom, Paul, Chico, John and Mark - THANK YOU!!!!!

To Yanni: Get some REAL off time LOL Wink
Registered:: November 29, 2000Report This Post
Yanni Fan
Picture of Kathy
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Sterling mixes others as well as Yanni in his off time, but he says he’ll stick with Yanni as long as he’s still touring. “I went to the dance with him,” he says, “I’ll leave with him.”

Interesting article. Thanks for sharing it with us. Well, hopefully Yanni doesn't stop anytime soon. We love his music to much.
Registered:: October 03, 2000Report This Post
Yanni Fan
Picture of Crissycat
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Thanks for sharing this. It is interesting to hear what goes on behind the scenes.


"Each day comes bearing gifts. Untie the ribbons."
Registered:: December 03, 2002Report This Post
Yanni Fan
Picture of Kathy60
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Great seeing you again in Vegas and Phoenix, Chico!

Lobe ya! Smiler

Sassy Kitty/Sister 101
Sanity is HIGHLY Overrated!
Registered:: September 28, 2003Report This Post
Yanni Fan
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It's interesting to note the dedication of people behind the scenes. It takes a lot of talent and patience to be able to pull off a production and be able to repeat that same production over, and over again. Timing is everything, and given the fact that during back-to-back venues, that's no easy task. Yet they pull it off each and every time. I applaud each and every one of them. To able to tear down, load up the trucks, drive to the next venue, unload and reset, only to do it all over again, is pretty amazing.
I thank them all for all of their hard work. They may not play an instrument, but their talents are just as noteworthy as that of all the musicians that we do see.
Thank you, all of you!

Bro #1
Registered:: May 18, 2001Report This Post
Yanni Fan
Picture of Marcia
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Thank you for this posting. It is great to hear from the "behind the scenes" gang. What insight to the inner mechanisms of a complex yet wonderful show. EVERYONE should be commended for their hard work and tenacity. This combination of people, working together, with a mutual love for their work, the music and the man behind it all, bring happiness to us every day.

Thank you, thank you.
Registered:: October 03, 2000Report This Post
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