DiGiCo Roundup: Audio Provider Supports World Cup Anniverary, Megan Trainor, Pink Floyd, ELO Concerts

Audio console developer DiGiCo has been very busy over the past few months with the company’s consoles supporting major concerts and tours around the world.

DiGiCo_Logo_on_whiteDiGiCo Gets It In The Back of the Net For World Cup ’66:Live
It is 50 years since the legendary FIFA World Cup win of 1966. To mark the anniversary, the FA held a series of events culminating in a spectacular live stage show at The SSE Arena, Wembley on July 30, exactly 50 years to the minute since kick off on that historic day. Skan PA Hire provided the entire audio system, with four DiGiCo consoles deployed for Front of House and monitor mix positions.

The show, which brought together music, fashion and football, retold the story of England’s victory that summer, recounted minute-by-minute through current reflections and historic footage, accompanied by a house band, an orchestra and guest singers including Lemar, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Chris Farlow and Kelly Ellis. There were also four guest bands, The Troggs, Reef, Squeeze and the cast of West End show, Sunny Afternoon: The Kinks Musical. The entire show was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2, red button and into cinemas nationwide.

Skan provided two separate systems comprising two SD7s and two SD5s to allow for quick changeovers and line checks of the guest bands, while the house band / orchestra and presenters stayed live and static throughout the show. An SD11 processed the VT playback and presenter mics and had a Dan Dugan auto mixer inserted to assist with the actors dialogue.

“The consoles were selected primarily because they were the preference of the engineers working on the event, but also because of the required channel count,” says Skan’s Tom Tunney. “The two house SD7s needed to process 96 inputs from stage and the two SD5s needed to not only be able to process 48 inputs from the guest bands, but also able to join the house band network, providing full redundancy for SD7s as an additional backup.”

Steve Lutley took up the monitor position for the house band and crew, with Gary Bradshaw at their Front of House.

“I chose the SD7 for this project, not only because I believe that there is no other console worth considering for a professional performance, but because I was a little uncertain as to exactly what the monitor requirements would be before going into the single days pre-show rehearsal,” says Steve. “I looked after the house band and guest vocalists whose MD, Mike Dixon, had to take live show cues from a Show Caller and many other cues from the actors live dialogue during the performance.”

The house band required 13 stereo IEM mixes for musicians, a stereo IEM mix for the MD, a stereo IEM Tech Mix, four stereo IEM guest vocalist mixes and four down stage wedge mixes.

“My SD7 took control of gains for 112 inputs,” Steve continues “I was on the same optical loop as Gary Bradshaw’s SD7 and Onno Ooms’, who handled FOH operations, SD11 and we shared gains on two SD-Racks and 1 x SD-Mini Rack.

“The SD7 gave me the versatility to be able to set up different scenarios, all of which I could achieve on-the-fly if needed, as well as cope with all the band member, string section and guests’ monitoring needs. The SD7 is the only console I would feel comfortable enough with to achieve these needs, in such a short time frame.”

It was a very tight show with either a guest band on, Gary mixing the house band, orchestra and guest vocalists or Onno was mixing the actors spoken word segments, meanwhile we would be line checking the next band,” recalls Matt Napier, who took up the FOH position for the guest bands. “The three SD Series consoles all worked seamlessly together. The SD5 for the guest bands was also the Master console. The Matrix facilities and macros on the SD Series made this simple.”

For the Guests, Matt had Layer 1 set up as the master generic input list, with Layer 2 providing each band with a dedicated bank.

Clair Global Carries DiGiCo SD10s On Meghan Trainor’s North American Tour
Two years ago, a catchy little pop ditty titled “All About That Bass” hit the Internet and radio waves. Although some might have assumed a quick, one-hit-wonder-fueled-by-YouTube ride for writer and singer Meghan Trainor, the video for that song has amassed a staggering 1.6 billion YouTube views and Trainor is now one of the most successful—and influential—women in the music business with six top 15 Billboard Hot 100 hits and a 2016 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Monitor mix engineer Tony Luna has been with her since her first tour in 2015, and with the recent addition of FOH engineer Mike Fanuele, the two are both riding faders on a pair of DiGiCo SD10 desks.

“I was on a different platform before this tour,” Fanuele reports. “But from day one, Tony started to sell me on the advantages of the SD10, which he was already using. I had one question: could I put anything anywhere I wanted to? He assured me I could and I’ve been really happy with it.”

Pulling on a background that started in the recording studio, Fanuele approaches a mix in a way that might confound some live engineers with most outputs feeding more than one group. “Drums are a good example,” he says. “For instance, the snare and kick each have two mics. But those mics feed a snare group and a kick group, and the actual inputs do not live on the top layer of the SD10. And each of those groups becomes part of a larger drum group.” This approach allows him the flexibility to make minute adjustments to each input, but still grab one fader for snare or kick or even the entire drum mix on the fly. It’s a good illustration of his need to be able to “put anything anywhere.”

Even approaching the desk as a new platform did not put Fanuele behind and he reports a very little learning curve. “I was out last year with a different desk that had a very high learning curve,” he says. “But having Tony and Nathan McBee from Clair to give me a quick overview, within two hours I had a solid 54-input mix that looked pretty much like it does today.”

Both engineers are using the SD10s paired with a Waves Extreme server and Mercury bundle package. Luna also uses a MacBook Pro running Waves Tracks for virtual playback. The 54 inputs (full band with a horn section) go through Dolby processing, Lab.gruppen amps and Clair’s i3 rig.

Even with that full Waves package, neither engineer is using a lot of plug-ins. For example, Fanuele uses a lot of compressor channels, but most of it is DiGiCo’s onboard processing. “The drums are actually more layered than that,” he describes. “There is a snare group that is treated with just EQ and maybe 2dB of compression. Then the same two mics feed a ‘snare compressed’ group, and the sum of those two groups feeds an overall snare control group. But I’m only using plug-ins—in terms of inputs—on Meghan’s vocal. Everything else—all EQ and compression on inputs—is on the SD10.”

Luna, whose diverse client list includes everyone from Justin Bieber and Alicia Keyes to Five Finger Death Punch and Aerosmith, takes a more straightforward approach. “I’m not even pushing faders,” he notes. “My SD10 is so dialed in that I use two things: the Next button and the fader for the crowd mics. I hit the Next button per scene, rail the crowd mics, Meghan smiles and I know we’re good.”

DiGiCo SD5 and SD10 Consoles Keep The Australian Pink Floyd Show a High Flier
With over four million tickets sold to concerts that have taken place in 35 countries, The Australian Pink Floyd Show has amazed millions of concertgoers with an uncanny replication of the classic UK band’s legendary live show. Employing a lavish collection of visual aids (including lasers, inflatables and 3D stereoscopic projection), the group’s live shows recreate the look, feel and sound of Pink Floyd’s later world tours.

For over 120 shows this year, the touring ensemble has had DiGiCo SD consoles on tour with it for the first time since it began touring in 1988. For the current North American run, Milwaukee-based Clearwing Productions has been supplying an SD5 for front of house and an SD10 at monitors. Both desks share an SD-Rack and are connected via an Optocore network, creating an efficient and robust DiGiCo audio ecosystem that crewmembers have been very, very pleased with.

“With the consoles sharing the same SD-Rack on a network, it’s a very solid and seamless system,” observes Jeff Schauer, Clearwing’s system technician on the tour. “It makes for a very efficient system, too, since we only have to carry a single rack.”

Underscoring that efficiency even further, Schauer says that the SD-Rack is also being used to drive the PA system, porting the AES audio through the Optocore loop to the stage rack. “As a result, we don’t have to re-clock the AES signal from front of house when it hits the stage to be distributed to the mains,” he explains. “And when we’ve carried an opening act, we’d just add another stage rack into the loop and it’s seamless. It makes my life a lot easier. We would never have been able to do that before with another console.”

FOH engineer Trevor Gilligan paid the SD5 a classic British show-biz compliment when he described his experience with it as “absolutely fabulous!” He praised its compact form factor and outsized feature package, noting that all of the processing he needs throughout the entre show is available internally. Gilligan is using all of the SD-Rack’s 56 channels and says the snapshot automation allows him to easily manage a complex mix. “It’s especially handy for fader changes and mutes,” he says. “It’s just a real pleasure to use, and I’m looking forward to getting the Stealth Core 2 upgrade when we get back to the UK.”

Matt Coton adds that the SD10 is a great desk for managing monitors. The few spare I/Os he had during rehearsals—more than 250 shows ago—have long since been eaten up, but the SD10 still offers him plenty of headroom. “I’ve never had any stability issues, and the gain sharing at the rack gives us lots of headroom,” he says. “It’s a fantastic workhorse of a console.”

All 10 members of The Australian Pink Floyd Show are using IEMs along with a few stage wedges, and Coton says that all of them have expressed utter satisfaction with what the SD10 sends them. “The internal effects enable me to give the band members all their own reverbs; I don’t have to run any external effects,” he says. “We all get what we need and then some from the SDs.”

DiGiCo SD7s Herald Blue Sky Performance on ELO Tour
This spring saw Jeff Lynne’s ELO return to the stage, performing a series of flawless shows in arenas around the UK, including four nights at London’s The O2. Fittingly – for the band has drawn musician’s from Gary Barlow’s band to complement Lynne and long-time ELO pianist Richard Tandy – Gary Bradshaw and Steve Lutely, who have both worked extensively with Barlow and Take That, sit at the Front of House and monitor positions respectively. Each of them is working with their console of choice, a DiGiCo SD7.

In fact, the whole ‘machine’, as crew chief Onno Ooms describes it, is the same as for Take That, with the SD7s and the rest of the tour’s audio requirements supplied by Newbury-based rental company Skan PA.
“I’m using an SD7 because I wouldn’t use anything else,” says Gary Bradshaw. “On a tour this size there’s nothing better. I’ve used the SD7 a lot, so I know it inside out and I set it up the same every time, which makes life easy and means I can find things quickly. We have around 80 inputs and I’ve got left, right and sub for outputs. We have three hangs of speakers either side of the stage and flown subs, front fills and ground subs, then there’s a delay system all the way round. It’s very straight forward really.”

Gary is recording absolutely everything, at Jeff’s request, and running at 96k.

“What’s slightly unusual is that the very first time I met Jeff, which was right before the Hyde Park gig, before he even said hello, he said, ‘can we have no effects on anything please?’ And more specifically, no reverb, particularly not on the strings. Then he said ‘hello, how are you doing? It’s just his thing. There are a couple of little delays, but other than that there are no effects at all, which takes a bit of getting used to, but he just wants clarity and the SD7 allows me to give him that.

“Steve Jay, Jeff’s studio engineer, is out with us. He knows everything backwards, so it’s good having him around. We’re trying to get as close to the original sound as possible.”

Over in monitor world, Steve Lutley uses an SD7 because, like Gary, he believes it to be the best monitor console currently available. He set up comprises 14 stereo In-ear mixes, including techs, and a stereo wedge mix for Milton McDonald on guitar.

“I also run the whole shout system and all band member talk microphones through the console to try and make communication during a show as simple as possible,” he says. “The fact that we moved Jeff over to in-ear monitors for the first time meant that for this tour, more than ever, I needed a versatile console to be able to achieve all the ‘production’ type qualities and subtle changes for each track (and sometimes during) that a world class producer is listening for. And it had to sound great! The SD7 gave me all of these values plus the assurance that I know my way around it so well because it’s just so user-friendly. The choice of console has obviously worked as Jeff has been nothing but complimentary about what he is hearing.


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