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A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor


The Big Chill is a different sort of festival, just ask any of the thousands of people that spend a weekend in August come rain or shine – but normally shine, some would have you believe – in the beautiful grounds of Eastnor Castle Deer Park in the Malvern Hills of Herefordshire.

This is a home it has claimed since 2002 and one that its audio provider, Dobson Sound, has joined it at for the past five years and this year, the company has reaped the full benefits of deploying DiGiCo digital mixing consoles at this most laid back of events.

“Andy ‘Baggy’ Robinson – who looked after the front of house D5 on the Castle Stage this year – got us involved initially when he was sound manager for the festival,? recalls Paul Dobson, managing director of Dobson Sound. “For the first three years, we just did the Castle and the Open Air stages. Then, Just Add Water took over the festival’s production and they wanted to bring the sound for the entire site under one roof – and we were asked if we wanted to do it all.?

This request came at a serendipitous time for Dobson’s, as the company had grown sufficiently in size to be able to easily fulfil the brief. “Initially, neither we, nor any of the other companies involved, were big enough to take on the whole thing, but when it got to year four we were in a much better position,? smiles Paul. “Mark Isbister came on board that year as sound manager and we put a complete package together.?

The system Dobson supplied is based around d&b loudspeakers – a variety of their products across all the stages for both FOH and monitor systems – and DiGiCo mixing consoles. “That’s something we would aim not to change,? says Paul. “We’re very happy with what both the d&b system and the DiGiCos do for us, what they do for the festival and what both companies do for us in terms of support.?

Mark Isbister was instrumental in bringing digital consoles to the festival, as Paul explains. “The first few years we were involved, they weren’t really wanted, but this year has been a major shift across to digital, which is where DiGiCo has come in. We have five of their consoles here now.

“We own two D5s and three D1s. However, two of our D1s are on their way to the Crimea for an Elton John show, so they couldn’t be used, but DiGiCo was kind enough to help us sub in two more D5s for us to make up the full compliment.?

Because of the way the stages are run, support was required from analogue consoles in order to accommodate session changes and not interrupt the information flow. “There’s no respite on some of the stages,? says Paul, “so we’re flip flopping between a band and a DJ, or two DJs, or whatever, so it’s deemed necessary to have a fallback position where we can move over to another console while we do something with one of the DiGiCos, and then come back to it.

“DiGiCo was our first major foray into digital consoles and we find their versatility a major bonus for us as a rental company. The fact that they’re specified and accepted by a lot of artists is also a big help. It’s a product we can use in a variety of situations and ultimately that’s what makes it pay.

“Fundamentally, they are reliable and on the odd occasion when we’ve had blips, DiGiCo has been great in terms of support. From my point of view, as a rental company owner, peace of mind is important. We come here for the weekend and all I want to know is that everything is going to work.

“We use very little outboard gear because just about everything we need is in the desk. If an artist rocks up and wants another three channels of compression, it’s there. In fact, anything you want is there and that’s a big bonus, because we never really know what anybody wants before they get here. The DiGiCos give us an awful lot of options, which we wouldn’t otherwise have.?

So it seems that sound satisfaction abounds at The Big Chill. On the subject of digital consoles, Paul sums up: “Five years ago, Baggy refused to use digital consoles here on the basis that he wouldn’t put a computer in a field for the weekend. But now, here he is…!?

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August 2008
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