Tag: MixPre-10 II

Alastair McMillan Captures ‘Lightning in a Bottle’ U2 Performance for “Bono and the Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman”

Alistair McMillan, U2 Recording Engineer for Touring

Alastair McMillan has lived an impressive double life in music. As a successful studio engineer, he helmed the boards for an impressive array of musical talent including Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, Paul Brady, and Ronan Keating among others. Since 2009, McMillan has been manning the monitor mixes for Bono of U2 as their Recording Engineer for Touring and has brought his distinctive studio engineer’s sensibilities to the proceedings that has helped the charismatic front man capture the passion and magic of their celebrated studio albums onstage. Earlier this year, McMillan captured a more spontaneous kind of magic for “Bono and the Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman” when the band staged an impromptu sing-along performance at McDaid’s Pub that brought together a gathering of guest artists for an intimate musical moment. 

Jumping into the deep end 

Starting his career in the late 1980s, McMillan worked his way up through the Irish recording studio system before becoming studio manager at Windmill Lane studios in Dublin, working alongside a veritable who’s-who of Irish talent, including U2. His transition to live monitor engineer grew organically out of this relationship and gave him an opportunity to bring his studio chops into an entirely new environment. “I was literally picked up and thrown into the deep end — and the rest is history.” he says with a chuckle. “Coming from a studio background makes working with them more creative. It’s about creating an atmosphere that the band can perform in and contributing to the live energy that they make onstage properly.” 

“I’m literally plugged into him, and we do the show together,” he continued. “When you work that way, you learn how the performer reacts and how to give them something to really jump off of.” 

Despite still being one of the biggest bands in the world, U2 thrive on a sense of spontaneity that keeps them connected to their punk rock origins. This mischievous spirit has kept McMillan on his toes and trained him to be on the lookout for moments where he needs to fall back on his studio engineer experience to these musical happenings as they happen. “They don’t do anything ordinary and much of the time the magic can come from this ‘seat-of-the-pants stuff,” he explains. “The fact that they allow an element of the unplanned helps them keep that energy and passion in what they do.” 

“This was really evident when they were filming the documentary and the performance at McDaid’s Pub.” 

Bono and the Edge
Bono and The Edge

Capturing magical moments in impromptu settings 

The pub singalong — which included appearances from several other high-profile Irish talents alongside Bono and the Edge— is a standout scene in ‘A Sort of Homecoming’ that encapsulates U2’s ability to generate a sense of musical community no matter how large the room is. The challenge presented to McMillan and sound recordists Karl Merren, Conor O’Toole, and Enda Callen was to preserve the intimacy of the moment without a lot of obvious microphone placements. “It was originally planned as a very off-the-cuff thing, but as more people turned up, we realized we ought to try and record this properly,” McMillan says. “The challenge was to find and hide as many mics as we could and get a proper multitrack of everything without disrupting what was to happen.” 

The Edge, Bono, and David Letterman
The Edge, Bono, and David Letterman

Alongside a collection of 18 microphones hidden throughout the pub, McMillan, Merren, Callen, and O’Toole utilized a trio of Sound Devices Scorpio mixer-recorders underneath the tables to get high-quality multi-track audio of the musicians. “I had started using Sound Devices from some local film jobs I’d done more recently — ‘Derry Girls,’ most notably, with a MixPre-10 which has become my go-to external mic preamp ever since,” he said. “The Scorpios are similarly plug-and-play which is exactly what we needed for a shoot like this where the plan was to just hit record and make it happen.” 

“Once we had the setup secure, we could ensure that the show went on. We were able to capture that incredible atmosphere without getting in the way.” 

Last-minute equipment issues aside, what McMillan ultimately remembers about that evening is how the music brought people together, and how something honest was captured for posterity. “They have a joke within the band — let’s not over-rehearse, and I think that’s a big part of what makes these magical moments happen,” he said. “When it came time to mix the audio down, we were mixing to suit that — to keep it feeling real and in-the-moment.” 

“We had to be resourceful to get that pub shoot together, but it went off brilliantly. It was one of the best nights of my life as a music fan.” 

Products Mentioned

MixPre-10 II

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MixPre II Live Stream

Oct 16, 2023
OnlineUnited States (US)

Join us on October 16th, 2023, at 11:00am CDT, for a live-streamed event all about the MixPre II Series of mixer-recorders. Laura Sillanpää, Sound Devices Technical Support Specialist, will lead the session, where she’ll share tips and tricks for using MixPre mixer-recorders in various applications, will answer your questions, and will talk about some exciting news coming soon. Whether you’re just getting started using a MixPre II mixer-recorder or you’ve used one for years, this live-streamed event is for you.

Products Mentioned

MixPre-10 II

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MixPre-3 II

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MixPre-6 II

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MixPre Knob

Made By: Lom Audio.

Dimensions: 12mm diameter, 8.5mm internal diameter.
Material: PETG (froggy green, hi-vis orange and black), PLA (crystal).
Compatibility: MixPre-3, 6, 10 (both T and M versions, both I. and II. generation).

The knob is friction-fitted on the original knob, no need to modify your device.

Soundbag Dashboards

Made By: Soundbag Dashboards.

Soundbag Dashboards can help you create your ultimate production sound bag.  

Just like the dashboard of your vehicle, Soundbag Dashboards place all of the audio gear you depend on, right in your line of sight, ensuring you can quickly and easily monitor your equipment. Soundbag Dashboards are designed to mount to your audio mixer and lay out your wireless receivers right in front of you for easy viewing and access. Some models also feature the ability to mount DC power distribution systems including the Remote Audio RM remote, the Battery Bud and various Audio Root models.

Now with our new Modular Dashboard System, you can choose exactly how you want to build your Soundbag!

Custom Glow Pots Color-Coded Knobs For MixPre

Made By: Bioluminous.

These are custom replacement knobs for all models of the Sound Devices MixPre line. They will work on the 1st and 2nd generation of the MixPre 3 / 6 / 10. They will not work on any other Sound Devices models. The knobs are custom-designed by us and produced using the best materials available. These knobs are only sold by Bioluminous and not available anywhere else.

We created these knobs to have several features:

  • Bottom part has thick glow-in-the-dark part for easy viewing on dark sets and studios
  • Top part is in the color you choose and the color is viewable from all angles
  • Knob is sculpted to make it easy to adjust based on feel without looking
  • Top has embedded stainless steel screw to allow for easy one-finger adjustment

You choose the colors you want. There are 32 color choices available so you can be sure to be able to match your existing color scheme. Each knob purchase includes two knobs of the same color, one is reversed for use on the top row of the MixPre 10 series only. Choose the color you want from the item picker at the top of the page. Select quantity and add to cart. Then repeat for the other colors you want.

Headphones Knob Grip Flex Sleeve For MixPre

Made By: Bioluminous


  • Flexible sleeve fits tightly over existing knob (recorder not included).
  • Sleeve does not interfere with headphone port (recorder not included).
  • Shown installed on recorder (we also offer colored knob sleeves – recorder not included).

The new MixPre II series comes with a soft, black rubber sleeve that makes using the headphone encoder extremely easy with just one finger (no more tweaking your fingers down the edge of your bag just to make adjustments!). But the sleeve is very soft and easily lost.

This replacement sleeve is made of a flexible plastic that is harder than the original, but still soft on the fingers and easy to attach. It just presses into place and stays put. The design is a copy of the factory supplied version and was re-created by us in-house. Made in red to match the other colors and also to be easy to find in a sound bag.