Joni Mitchell Tribute Recordings, California

The Opportunity

Guy Charbonneau was looking for class-leading accuracy when upgrading the studio monitors for his mobile recording studio and for mixing Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration, a PBS special and CD/DVD.

The Solution

Established in 1973, Le Mobile is a remote recording and mixing studio entirely custom-built into the back of a semi-truck. Le Mobile has been a heavyweight in the mobile recording industry for more than 40 years. Guy has worked with over 1,000 of the most prominent artists in the world, earning over 50 gold and platinum records, an Emmy® Award and several TEC Awards.

Le Mobile has been equipped with a JBL custom built tri-amped JBL monitoring system since it was first designed in 1977. In fact, the system in Le Mobile has been personally tuned and improved over the years with the collaboration of former Director of JBL Technology Mark Gander who met Charbonneau while he was demonstrating Le Mobile at the AES trade show in the early 1980s.

Recently, Guy and son Ian were hired to record and mix “Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration Live”, a tribute concert that was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles to celebrate Joni Mitchell’s 75th birthday. The performance will be released as a PBS special as well as a 16-song live album and DVD and features an all-star band under the direction of Brian Blade and Jon Cowherd with performances by Diana Krall, James Taylor, Norah Jones, Los Lobos, Emmylou Harris, Graham Nash, Seal, Kris Kristofferson, Brandi Carlile, Chaka Khan, Glen Hansard and Rufus Wainwright.

Guy and Ian mixed the performance in Le Mobile using JBL Professional 708P reference monitors, which they selected for their stunning detail, clarity and smooth frequency response.

Ian says the new JBL 708Ps have been very reliable both in the studio and on location.

Guy recalls being amazed by the even and balanced imaging of the JBL 3 Series monitors while working in a studio with a very large-format console in New York. After trying the 3 Series on that project, with much eagerness, it only made sense to try the 708’s. Guy has been using the 7 Series monitors ever since to ensure his mixes will translate to other systems.

Ian says his favorite thing about the new JBL 708Ps is how they complement the existing main JBL system in Le Mobile.

The 16-track “Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration” concert CD and DVD are currently available for pre-order and set for release on March 8, 2019.

The Impact

“My approach to recording a live show is to really feel the show, and sometimes you have to monitor fairly loud to do that,” said Guy. “But with the 708s, you don’t have to play them very loud to feel something. It makes a big difference when you’re working 14 or 16-hour days. The 708s are very transparent and pleasant. You can work long hours without having to turn them up as loud as other monitors.”

“JBL has done an incredible job with the 708s,” said Ian Charbonneau, Engineer, Le Mobile. “Even the compression driver is very smooth. Whether you play them at a low or high level, they’re still pleasant and very accurate. That’s a big plus in those monitors, and I think they sound very solid. They’re not a vanity product like some studio monitors today—these are workhorses. The 708s are beyond powerful, very solid sounding and well built, whether it’s a mobile recording situation, live broadcast or studio environment.”

“You don’t have to sit in one place—you can move left or right, stand up or sit down and the sound doesn’t change,” said Guy. “Most speakers aren’t like that, you have to be in the right spot but the 708s sound good no matter where you sit. They translate well to any source—I can listen on the little speakers in my kitchen, in my car, or even on my laptop and everything is still there. If it sounds good on the JBLs, it will sound good anywhere.”

“I’ve probably owned every pair of monitors JBL has released over the years,” said Ian. “They’ve made some great speakers, but these stood out to me. Right away, I recognized that big solid sound. These are the JBL I remember when I was younger. The 708s translate very well to our original mains from 40 years ago, it’s like a father and son relationship.”