DiGiCo’s Consoles Are The Choice Of Customers Around The World
DiGiCo’s digital audio mixing consoles are currently in use all over the world by top audio engineers for companies that do the sound for touring acts and London productions.
Slash Enterprises Geared Up With DiGiCo SD9
Slash Enterprises has recently invested in a DiGiCo SD9 digital mixing console. It was purchased through Indian distributor, HiTech Audio Systems.
“We were looking for something compatible for our line of work and were introduced to DiGiCo SD9 by HiTech,” says Ronald Daniel, owner of Slash Enterprises. “I was awestruck by the features of the console and instantly loved everything about it.”
“I mix for both indoor venues and open air, live shows,” says Daniel. “The audience footfall varies and the needs of artists are increasingly demanding. For such a diverse array of shows, ease of use is a prime consideration in my console choice and the DiGiCo SD9 is a perfect fit for my scope of work.”
The team at Slash understands what makes the DiGiCo SD9 a class apart and a whole generation ahead, with the ground-breaking console boasting 96 Channels at 48kHz/96kHz. standard channel processing, whether inputs or outputs, includes channel delay, single and multi-channel presets, dual insert points, hi- and lo-pass filters @ 24dB/octave, four-band dynamic parametric EQ with band curve selection, DiGiCo’s DYN 1 (Compressor, De-esser or Multi Channel Compressor) and DYN 2 (Gate, Compressor or Ducker).
“The console also offers 155 dynamic EQ processors, all of which can be assigned to any of the input or output channels,” says Daniel. “Plus, there are 155 Multiband Compressors, 155 DiGiTubes, 16 gangable 32-band graphic EQs, 12 stereo effects (selectable from a palette of 33), and 12 control groups (VCAs) that allows users to work with flexibility as well as provide precise control. Moreover, using snapshots feature, engineers can now switch between complete configurations in any live environment. Beside these, the SD9 has an array of features that makes it the most preferred and amongst the industry’s best consoles.”
HiTech Audio Systems supports each of its clients with proper, in-depth training sessions on DiGiCo consoles.
“Team HiTech are always quick on their feet for any kind of troubleshoot and training and their experts have provided me with excellent technical support for the SD9 console during a live show,” says Daniel. “It was a wonderful experience to work with team HiTech.”
“We are proud to be associated with Slash Enterprises and believe in providing the very best customer support,” says Rajan Gupta, managing director of HiTech Audio Systems. “Investing in the DiGiCo SD9 is a valuable addition for Slash Enterprises. We hope that we can enter into further business ventures with Slash Enterprises and ascend to the peak of success together.”
DiGiCo proves its worth for Liam Gallagher
Last October, former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher released his debut solo album, As You Were. The record went straight in at number one in the UK, and went gold in its first week, outselling the rest of the top 10 of the UK Albums Chart combined and has gone platinum. Though the record is outstanding and has received much critical acclaim, Gallagher is in his element in the live arena. The guys responsible for helping make that happen are FOH engineer Shan Hira and monitor man Jon Simcox, both of whom are dependent on their DiGiCo mixing consoles.
It was when playing in bands as a young man that Hira developed an interest in the technical side of the music industry, which began in the recording studio.
“I was fascinated by recording and took an interest in what was going on; that’s where my love of mixing desks and outboard was born,” Hira says. “I then got a job as an engineer at a recording studio, and began recording local bands, which then progressed into doing live sound for them, and consequently for other bands.”
Shan has only ever wanted to do FOH sound since then and he has clearly got a knack for it: his client roster includes an eclectic mix of major acts such as The Chemical Brothers, The Streets, and Lily Allen.
Both Hira and Simcox are big DiGiCo users. Over the course of working with Gallagher, Hira has used pretty much every console DiGiCo has ever put out, from the compact SD11 to the flagship SD7 and everything in between. On this arena tour, he was using an SD5 supplied by Skan PA running at 96kHz.
“I have been using DiGiCo desks for a few years now, so I know my way around them pretty well,” Hira says. “It’s a very flexible surface and enables me to put all my ins and outs exactly where I want them. I find it a quick surface to get around.”
Hira is running Snapshots – just for his mutes and faders – and uses the console’s internal FX with just a few old favourites by his side.
“There are some very decent effects in there, but I do also like to bring some familiar outboard with me: I am using an Avalon 737sp, and two engines of a Lexicon 480L on Liam’s vocal, plus an SPX 2000 on the snare.”
Jon started working (for free) for a local PA company when he was just 15 years old as a general dogsbody, out of the Robin Hood R&B club in the Black Country.
“I was a third man, stage patcher, as you can imagine… Then one day the monitor engineer didn’t turn up, so it was up to me to have a go,” Simcox says. “Since then, I’ve always done monitors. Although at some point I have ended up having to mix FOH once or twice for most bands I’ve worked for over the years, I’ve always seen myself as a monitor engineer first and foremost. I think they’re two very different skills.”
At the monitor position, Simcox is running an SD10, again at 96kHz.
“The desk was recommended to me by a friend who’s used one for a while (Dan Speed, monitor engineer for Biffy Clyro, also a Skan client), and I’d heard great things about the functionality and the macros, how good the stereo imaging is for IEMs and how transparent the pre-amps are. I was sold after our first day in rehearsals,” Simcox says.
Like Hira, Simcox uses the internal FX from within his DiGiCo.
“I’m using around 10 internal FX and with a bit of tweaking, EQing and side chain compression, they sound great. No outboard needed at all for me. It’s not a particularly complicated gig, so I use macros for specific fader/send/mute changes in seven or eight songs.”
This is a proper rock and roll setup. On stage, Gallagher opts for wedges over in-ears, all with just vocal, slap delay, and a bit of reverb pumping through them. Loud stage, then?
“It’s ear-splitting up there,” says Simcox, with a laugh. “But the fact we carry our desk, band in-ears, and mics everywhere means their mixes are very consistent from show to show, so that helps. We spent a lot of time rehearsing before the campaign started – around 12 weeks – so they got pretty true representations of the songs. And live, the sound definitely comes across a lot rawer and punkier than the record. That’s probably down to Liam’s maniacal aura on stage, though! [smiles]”
“The DiGiCo consoles were a solid choice for Liam Gallagher, as they are on so many of our tours,” says Skan’s Chris Fitch. “Despite owning 19 SD Reries consoles, we rarely see them, such is their popularity. The only downside of using a DiGiCo at FOH on this tour is their seemingly magic ability to attract beer being thrown by the enthusiastic crowds!”
“It’s been a real privilege for Skan to work with such an iconic performer and to support his fantastic engineers, Shan and Jon.”
Liam and co. are currently out in South America, playing shows in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, and will be returning to the UK for a string of festivals in the summer.
DiGiCo SD7T A Dream For West End Show
It is been 35 years since Dreamgirls first hit Broadway. It was a success then and the latest production at London’s Savoy Theatre is equally so. Sound designer Richard Brooker wanted an analogue sound to the audio, in keeping with the show’s 1960s/70s setting, but also wanted to benefit from today’s digital technology. He specified a DiGiCo SD7T to handle Front of House mix duties, which has the warmth of sound he was looking for with all the advantages of the digital domain and the theatre-specific functions of DiGiCo’s ‘T’ software.
“No other manufacturer has put the time and effort into understanding the strange idiosyncrasies of the theatre world,” says Brooker. “The SD7T has functions that are imperative when you’re working on musicals and that’s because the guys at DiGiCo talk to us, the people that use them, and make them work the way we need them to.”
Dreamgirls is the story of The Dreams, three talented young singers who embark upon a musical rollercoaster. They experience the realities, both good and bad, of show business, which tests their friendship to the very limits.
“The show is set at the end of the 60s, just running into the 70s and the disco era,” says Brooker. “Stylistically, music changed quite a lot during that period, as did technology in the recording industry. Because of that, I didn’t want to do anything fancy with plugins or the like; I wanted an analogue show that wasn’t actually analogue. I use the SD7T’s onboard dynamics because I love them but, other than that, there’s very little in terms of gimmicks going on.”
Along with the SD7T, operated by the expert hands of Digby Shaw, Brooker also took advantage of an EX007 expander during the production period, allowing him to make any changes he wanted to without interfering with the main console. For monitoring, Richard chose a DiGiCo SD8, which is secreted in the bowels of the theatre and is unmanned, having been set up to do the job on its own and feed the Roland M-48 personal monitoring system used by the band.
“We’re using around 100 channels,” says Shaw. “We have 12 Groups, and 38 Auxes, which seems quite a lot, but foldback zones, effects and program sends soon add up… We are using five external and four internal effects in total and Richard is also using Bricasti reverbs, which are pretty standard for him now and are amazing.”
Foldback is set up in zones, with each Zone having its own Aux send to determine what goes to where. This increases the Aux count, but it allows the flexibility to change the mixes if needed, depending on what is in an area at any particular time.
“In reality, what happens is there is a band to stage Aux that returns on a fader, and vocals to stage Aux,
which also return on a fader,” says Brooker. “From those channels, we can dial out to all the other zones, rather than dialling every instrument in individually. The relative levels of those faders then change during the show. For example, during the big dance numbers the foldback will lift so that the cast can dance and then it will come back down for a ballad, so they don’t have to fight it.”
The band for the show is hidden away in a specially constructed studio environment in the pit, designed by Brooker to allow, in particular, control of the brass section.
“You can’t achieve that in an open pit as you need an element of compression to hold everything together,” he says. “So I have a kit Group and a kit compressed Group and I always use parallel compression. It’s not revolutionary, but it works.”
Three separately timed vocal groups allow actors to move up and down stage and there is also a hand-held Group. I always used to insert time alignment on individuals and change it as they moved around, but now I just have three groups with three different times – up-stage, mid-stage and down-stage – because the handheld group is matrixed differently and EQ’d differently. There’s also a stereo vocal group, which has any click track vocals that come in, to give a little bit of vocal support in big dance numbers. Then there’s a band group, which is guitars, bass, keyboards etc.”
Richard likes the SD7’s compression which, he says, does exactly what he needs it to do and is fairly transparent.
“The gates are good as well, although I don’t use them that much, just a tiny little bit on the toms,” he adds. “Having this many Groups allows us to matrix everything out, which is the main reason for doing it, but also means we can compress the groups as well.”
“Aliases are also really useful,” says Shaw. “They are like advanced pre-sets. The standard use for describing an Alias is a way to control settings such as EQ, filters and maybe compression on an actor wearing a hat. A hat obviously has a huge effect on a microphone in the hairline and needs specific settings.
“On Dreamgirls, more often it’s the fact that there are ensemble members who have different minor characters throughout the show. It makes a huge difference to be able to assign different Aliases for these characters and to keep the settings unique. But what makes an Alias even more useful is the fact they ripple through any live changes that are made.
“For instance, if a character arrives on stage in cue 20 and changes are made to the EQ, etc., via an Alias, when that character returns in Cue 40 the Alias has the updated live changes, making the whole process much easier to control.
“Then there’s the Players function, which is also incredibly useful. Just taking the example above, if one of the ensemble has four minor characters plus his own role that’s five Aliases. But their role is also covered by three understudies, who all need different settings.
“Players enables you to recall the individual settings for any of them according to who is playing the role on that day. It’s an essential and vital tool for keeping on top of the different settings for each actor.”
Brooker and Shaw have a long history of working together and Richard has given him complete autonomy when it comes to programming, which demonstrates the level of trust between the pair.
“I like the fact that I have input into the programming,” Shaw smiles. “It also means that if something happens mid tech I know I can program it to achieve what’s wanted and I don’t have to bother Richard with it.”
“Things change daily when you’re programming a show,” says Brooker. “Digby knows all the pitfalls, which means there’s never an issue.”
“I definitely wouldn’t do a theatre show if I didn’t have a DiGiCo,” says Shaw. “I believe in it that much. It always takes me doing a tech to remind me that this is true; everything is so fast during a tech and ‘no-one waits for sound’.
“We always create a character tracking sheet so we know who is on stage and when, or who’s singing BVs on or offstage for instance. But during a tech that can change all the time and at the last minute. All I have to do is couple of taps for a current cue, or even a cue in the future, and it’s job done, it’s all been updated. Most importantly, there’s no need to stop. Without the workflow on the DiGiCo, that just wouldn’t happen.”
“And the customer support is just amazing,” says Brooker. “But it’s not just the support, it’s the fact that DiGiCo is so customer facing and we know them personally.”
“We needed to program another show really quickly the other day and I rang up Tim [Shaxson, DiGiCo Technical Sales Manager] and asked if we could come and use their demo room,” Shaw says. “He said, ‘Come down, it would be great to see you!’ They’re so accommodating. I will always use DiGiCo; in my opinion there is nothing else that does what it does or sounds as good.”
Sincopa Chooses DiGiCo As Flagship Mixing Consoles
Israel’s largest sound and light company, Sincopa, has recently invested in DiGiCo SD12and SD10mixing consoles. Eran Perldik, Sincopa’s audio director, explains why, for him, DiGiCo is the only choice.
“Sincopa’s vision is to stay ahead in terms of both knowledge and technology, so that we can provide the best service for our customers,” says Perldik.
This is precisely why Sincopa is one of Israel’s most successful sound and light companies, with a client roster that includes the likes of Britney Spears, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Radiohead, Tom Jones, Dire Straits Experience, Queen and Adam Lambert, The Rolling Stones, Elton John and many more.
When it comes to providing audio equipment to this ever-growing list of clientele, Sincopa is always striving to stay ahead of the curve, which is why it has invested heavily in DiGiCo.
This has been paramount to the company’s success, as Perldik explains.
“DiGiGo has become an industry standard and the most wanted console in Israel, both for one-off shows and touring productions. Almost every production we supply demands DiGiCo,” Perldik says. “We already had several DiGiCo consoles, including an SD7, two SD10s, an SD8 and two SD9s. They are the preference of our in-house techs and the fact that we can convert files and the fact that we can be flexible with the console size makes life easy.
“We’ve recently purchased a new SD10 and SD12 to answer growing demand and to provide consistency to our regular customers without having to outsource consoles,” Perldik says. “With five of the consoles equipped with Optocore, and five SD-Racks, it allows us to be able to answer almost every demand thrown our way.”
Even with this growing inventory of DiGiCo consoles, the team at Sincopa have barely seen their new SD10 and SD12.
“Both of the consoles have been out since the day they arrived,” says Perldik. “This stands as testament to the demand for these particular consoles in the market right now – and that doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon.”
“We are always happy with DiGiCo. The products are great, and the service is awesome; digital consoles in general are complicated but, on the rare occasion we have an issue, we know there is always someone on the other end of the phone at DiGiCo HQ to help us.”