Living for Live Sound: Insight from K-array’s Star Sound Engineer

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With over 35 years industry expertise, K-array’s Product Specialist, Klaus Hausherr is the Italian manufacturer’s go-to man for all things live sound. His vast audio knowledge and friendly demeanor have made him an in-demand sound engineer also among industry peers, accumulating an impressive list of international artists with whom he has collaborated like Santana, Bon Jovi, Vasco Rossi, Shakira, Sting and many others. Here, Hausherr gives us a bit of insight into his journey through live sound.

 

Not surprisingly, Hausherr’s start in the pro audio industry began as most: for the love of music: “I have always had a strong passion for music which was my biggest motivator to work in this industry. I began as a DJ in 1972 and loved connecting with the audience on such a personal level. It was when I started sound engineering at a Club Valtur resort in Greece that I began to develop a stronger interest in the technology aspect of it all and that’s when I transitioned from artist to engineer.

 

“In the 80s I moved on from working in resorts and took a job with a small rental company in Rome. I was put in charge of engineering local concerts in town squares, pretty basic work. But with every show, my passion grew and so did the industry’s trust in me. I was hired by larger rental companies which meant bigger artists. I went from working with relatively unknowns to more famous Italian artists like Umberto Tozzi, Renato Zero, Antonello Venditti and Pino Daniele.”

 

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Yet it wasn’t until 1992 when Hausherr hit the biggest turning point in his career. He was brought on as monitor engineer for an Eros Ramazzotti world tour. After about 2 months of tuning and rehearsals, he was fired. And in a rather cruel way: “They told me a was a Serie B sound engineer!”

 

Serie B is the lower-division soccer league in Italy and the phrase is used as an insult in this sport-crazed country. Even decades later, his incredulousness is difficult to hide although he retells the story hesitantly so as not to offend those involved at the time. He chalks it up to part of his journey because it obviously didn’t stop there.

 

Hausherr felt the doors close on him in Italy so as a necessity he sought refuge in Switzerland, his birthplace, and contemplated his next move. “Honestly, I wanted to get out of the world of live sound, change career paths completely even, but it was a bit unrealistic given my background so I settled working for a local rental company. I didn’t have much experience in the commercial aspects of the industry, but it was a welcomed change.”

 

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But soon enough Hausherr found his way back to live music. “The owner of the company approached me to work at Out in the Green festival where Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel and Rod Stewart were headlining. I was worried I would be disgusted all over again by the tension and stress that I was used to working FOH, but he convinced me that it would be different, that I could run a smaller second stage by myself. And he was right; there was such a calmness and professionalism. I did everything – monitoring, instrument setup, system tuning – and when the festival was over after three days, a colleague looked at me and said ‘Wow, that was impressive’. The moral of the story is that I had to accept that this was my true calling.”

 

That very next week, Hausherr picked up where he left off in the world of live sound, working at open-air festivals popular in the warmer months in Switzerland and throughout Europe. After a packed summer, he was put in contact with a bigger rental company that had a strong partnership with Clair Brothers. Hausherr was immediately brought on board and it was at this time that he collected an impressive list of artists with whom he collaborated, working shows and festivals in Europe and throughout the world. He was even presented with the opportunity to dispel his critics from the notorious Serie B incident when he was working as sound engineer for Santana. He was brought face-to-face with those who just a year earlier thought he wasn’t up to par and they demanded to know what he was doing there, shocked to see him behind the console. True to his character, Hausherr thought the better of a snarky comeback and just smiled and waved.

 

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By 1998, Hausherr finally made his way back to Italy. Tired of the tour life and looking for more time with his family, Italian band Litfiba requested his expertise for their national tour. With his industry credibility and international visibility, he was able to find his place once again in Italian live sound, touring annually with Vasco Rossi and Ligabue.

 

It was during this time Klaus had his “fatal encounter” with K-array. He came to the offices in Florence with little expectations and ended up connecting on a more personal level. “It wasn’t the sound quality of the products that impressed me, although it was absolutely evident. I really connected with the passion the company had and it immediately felt right.”

 

Hasherr taps into that jargon when he starts talking about the technology in live sound the he benefits from the most: “The best part of a show is definitely the system setup. I really enjoy the projection and simulation phase, using the speakers’ software to tune the system to adapt to the venue. And when I have a K-array system, it gets even better. The Electronic Beam Steering gives me control of the sound distribution and I can cover the audience area uniformly. When the sound is very defined and precise, the sound engineer is happy. If the sound engineer is happy, then everyone from the artists to the audience is happy.”

 

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“As a FOH, your best equipment is a good console connected to a good PA and, of course, a band with good musicians. If I had to choose a PA, it would be the Firenze-KH8 followed by the Firenze-KH7. They are powerful, yet very precise with high-definition sound. You really don’t see speakers that compact but their slim design (Slim Array Technology) allows sound to exit instantly without resonance for clean and exceptionally clear sound. An excellent result, especially with a talented artist performing.”

 

 And while his career might have been varied, it's apparent Hausherr’s journey hasn't strayed from his original objective when he talks about what being an FOH means to him still using passion as his biggest motivator. 

 

“A sound engineer is obviously someone who is very knowledgeable, but who loves music, has good taste and also a good ear for sound.”