Alexi Keito

Welcome to our new feature: 'In Focus'. Here, we turn our spotlight on outstanding sound engineers from around the globe who share our deep passion for all things Midas and audio. In this edition, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Alexi Keito, a talented engineer hailing from Athens, Greece. 

With a rich and varied background spanning multiple roles in the sound industry, from TV and Radio broadcasts to studio recordings and live sound, since 2009 Alexi has found himself drawn to the captivating world as a touring FOH engineer and Tour Manager. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought the touring and live sound circuit to an abrupt halt, Alexi seized the opportunity to explore the studio mixing field. Immersing himself in this new domain, fulfilling an ambition that he had wanted to try but had not previously had the time.
With a portfolio reading like a roster of heavy hitters in the music industry, Alexi has been touring with some of the most illustrious rock, metal, and extreme metal acts such as Symphony X, Nile and Morbid Angel, and he has had the chance to fill in for some great FOH sound engineers in W.A.S.P. , Destruction, Moonspell, Dead By April, and others. His resume is a testament to his exceptional talent and versatility.

During our conversation, Alexi delved into his exceptional Midas setup, expressing his loyalty to the brand and the reasons behind his choice. "The last few years, I've been very happy to be touring with my own Midas setup," he begins. "Going with Midas was my only and absolute choice since I've been a Midas guy forever."
For Alexi, the decision to stick with Midas stems from his desire for pristine sound at the source. "I wanted to make sure that I would get a pristine sound at the source, and Midas preamps always put a smile on my face," he explains. Even on smaller budget mixers like the M32, Alexi praises the unparalleled quality that Midas delivers. He goes on to highlight the versatility and portability of his setup as key factors in his decision-making process. "Being able to bring my own setup with any given budget without sacrificing on quality is a huge plus point," Alexi notes. "And of course, portability. Being able to fly my setup around with the smallest number of bags and cases is also something very important."

Detailing his setup further, Alexi outlines his use of the M32R on FOH, a DL32 on stage, and an M32C for monitors during tours. He emphasises the convenience of controlling the M32C wirelessly from FOH for adjustments during shows. For fly-in-fly-out shows or larger festivals where bringing an M32R isn't feasible, Alexi uses an additional M32C with a DL16 for FOH I/O needs.

Alexi’s attention to detail extends to his choice of accessories, such as the Klark Teknik DN32 LIVE card for the M32C on stage, allowing for USB inputs and simultaneous recording of 32 tracks on SD cards, as well as some extra processing with a few plugins on his MacBook. At FOH, he utilises a similar setup for recording and additional processing, with the Klark Teknik DN32 WSG card for more demanding processing tasks. He goes on to say, “This setup has been working flawlessly for me during my last tours providing me with complete independence between monitor and FOH mixing and at the same time recording the show for further use and virtual soundcheck.”

In discussing his favourite product, Alexi has great enthusiasm for Midas, "There isn't any Midas product that I haven't loved working with," he declares. However, his attention is particularly drawn to the HD96 mixer, which he anticipates will become his new favourite. He has been pretty much on tour non-stop since the live industry started back up and running after COVID, so he hasn’t yet had the opportunity to fully explore the mixers capabilities, but his initial experiences has left a lasting impression, with Alexi saying “From the few times that I did use it though, I was blown away. I really appreciate working on an expensive board that sounds superb and at the same time I can do everything I need with it without the use of external plugins or analogue racks. It looks like the HD96 can offer everything a modern live sound engineer needs, to be able to deliver a 2024 mix with the warmth of the analogue days.” And with the recent announcement of the HD96-AIR, Alexi eagerly awaits the chance to delve deeper into its features and incorporate it into his setup.

Alexi Keito

Discussing his techniques when on the road, Alexi shares insights gained from years of experience. "First thing I do when I enter a room is to let it speak to me," he explains, reflecting on his extensive travels and encounters with diverse acoustic environments. "Every room has its own character, and if you can decode it, then you have already a basic plan of workflow." Despite not always having the luxury of working with top-tier equipment or dedicated system engineers, Alexi emphasizes the importance of understanding room acoustics and adapting your workflow accordingly. "You have to dare to be drastic and work out of your comfort zone," highlighting the necessity of flexibility in achieving optimal results. Alexi's reliance on his own Midas setup provides him with a sense of confidence, ensuring consistent, high-quality sound regardless of the venue. "What the Midas motto says is true," he says, "Nothing sounds like it."

We talk about challenges Alexi has faced in his career to date he says “On a technical level, main challenges in the live audio industry would be the different venue acoustics that a touring engineer has to work with every night, equipment failure, portability, sound quality consistency and managing larger scale events, working with different people all the time. Communication, troubleshooting skills, thorough advancing, adaptivity to venue acoustic conditions, alternative workflows and system tuning are key factors to overcoming such challenges. Of course, there are psychologic challenges that should not be underestimated and can have a strong impact on every live sound engineer’s mental health. It is a stressful job, not everyone can handle it. I always felt lucky to be driven ahead from conditions that appealed stressful to many people in the industry.”

When it comes to collaborating with artists, Alexi's approach is multifaceted and deeply personal. "The first thing I do when an offer comes in is to listen to the artists’ albums," he shares, “I feel blessed to have worked with bands that I used to listen to a lot as a teenager and I still highly appreciate so I was familiar with their work and how everything should sound ”. Drawing from his own appreciation for the bands he works with, Alexi strives to merge their various eras into a cohesive, contemporary sound field. He engages in thorough conversations with band members to understand their preferences and ensure their comfort and confidence on stage—a vital element for delivering a powerful performance. While aligning artists' stage preferences with FOH mix considerations can pose challenges, he goes onto say “In fact, I have come to realise that all these challenges have contributed to my personal growth through the years. I always try to offer different views, or alternatives in achieving the same goal through more optimal means and many times artists are open in trying new methods and in the end they “indulge” in them. But in general, I always listen to the music, listen to the artists, and try my best to bring their vision to life, even more than that sometimes.”

Midas Alexi Keito

Recalling his formative years as a live sound engineer, Alexi reminisces about his extensive use with Midas analogue mixers, including the XL3, XL4, and the Heritage 3000, which shaped a sonic recognition of how a good mixer sounds or how an instrument played on a PA through a mixer should sound. However, Alexi admits to an initial unease with digital technology, finding its output somewhat unnatural—an opinion shared by many seasoned engineers at the time. His scepticism persisted even with the introduction of the XL8 in 2006. "When the XL8 was introduced in 2006 I didn’t have the chance to try it immediately and I was still sceptic about it," he continues. "A few years later when I had the chance to test the pro-series mixers, I finally listened to something I was familiar with and what the Midas preamps are doing for me right up to today. I am glad I can get the live sound from my mics into the box or mixer with all the further possibilities offered while at the same time preserving the body, the transients, and the warmth I have been familiar with all my life."

We begin to talk about how technology has transformed the audio landscape and has impacted Alexi’s career to date. "Sound and technology are two words that walk hand in hand," he reflects. "Technology has revolutionised sound engineering in numerous ways. It has significantly changed the sound engineering field, transforming it into something very different from what it was back in the late 90s when I started exploring it, from the analogue-to-digital shift to the use of computers and DAWs ushering in a new era of possibilities, enabling higher fidelity, streamlined editing, and a vast array of sound manipulation options."

As we delve into emerging trends in the field of sound engineering and their potential impact on the industry's future, Alexi offers insightful observations. "The trends I mostly see emerging in the field of sound engineering are Immersive Audio and AI-driven audio production," he begins. The increasing use of spatial audio technologies across various applications intrigues him, particularly regarding its potential influence on live sound. "Pink Floyd experimented with this concept back in 1967 at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, but it seemed to have been left behind since then," Alexi notes. However, he anticipates a resurgence driven by listeners' demand, potentially spurring industry investment in this extra dimension. He also predicts that AI will be increasingly integrated into audio workflows. "I doubt it would ever replace the mojo and taste of a sound engineer that possesses these virtues but for sure AI-powered tools will be a great assistance in audio tasks enhancing our creativity."

Bento Box

Reflecting on his career thus far, Alexi finds joy and significance in every moment, cherishing each experience as a stepping stone in his journey. "Being someone who does what he loves and loving what he does, I always enjoy and appreciate every moment in my career” he says. “I have worked with great musicians and bands that used to be my heroes back in my younger days and I still enjoy listening or banging my head to.” From working with his teenage thrash heroes in Destruction's 40th-anniversary European tour to Nile and Morbid Angel in the extreme metal genre to stepping into Rob Thomas's shoes for a show with W.A.S.P., he notes this as his biggest moment, he goes on to say “Rob did an excellent job with them during their last European Tour using the Midas HD96 - I recently had a talk with him onboard the '70000 Tons of Metal’ cruise - what an inspiring guy, I could listen to him talk for hours!!”.

Finally, Alexi offers some words of wisdom to those looking to start in the audio industry: “Keep your ears open and trained. They are the ultimate tool for the job. They are irreplaceable. Listen to a great variety of music. Build a taste. Be open and don’t be afraid to communicate, ask, experiment, fail. Trust yourself to make others trust you. Learn the rules. Then break them if this is what it takes to make the show work. The live sound field can be very hard if you don’t love it enough. So always make sure you’re excited to be out there! Always invest in what you do. There are no small gigs. Make sure you do your best to impress and stand out. You never know who’s watching and what doors a “small” and “not so important” gig can open.”

Keep up to date with Alexi on Instagram - @alexikeito