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A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor


Chris Pyne at the DiGiCo SD7Dubbed KylieX2008, the pop princess’s latest tour enjoyed rave reviews from critics, no doubt aided by the aural excellence of two DiGiCo consoles at the Front of House and monitor positions.
FOH engineer Chris Pyne and monitor man Rod Matheson are both long-term DiGiCo D5 users. This time, however, Chris swapped his D5 for a brand new SD7.
“I was one of the first engineers to see the SD7 and was invited into DiGiCo’s ‘perspex box’ to operate the console at PLASA last year,? says Pyne. “Then James [Gordon, DiGiCo’s MD] asked me if I wanted to use the SD7 on the dates we did with Kylie earlier this year. Of course I said yes!
“We had one of the very first SD7s, which we took to production rehearsals and helped to make a few improvements to the system – DiGiCo is proactive in getting real world input from engineers.?
The complexity of the show meant that Chris had 65 inputs at FOH and had to make many changes between each song – the perfect scenario for the SD7’s Snapshot feature, which is more in-depth than that on the D5.
“Every single song is different – it has a different bass drum, snare drum, this that and the other,? he says. “I couldn’t do the show without the programming and the console’s Snapshot feature, because I have to go through every single song and programme different EQ, different auxes, different gain structures, etc. It has made my life a lot easier.
“I also wanted something which would allow me to write notes to myself and have them visible on one or other of the screens. In response to that, DiGiCo created the Snapshot Notes facility and now, every time I recall a snapshot, the screen changes with a different note on it to remind me to do something.?
The tour used a large Meyer Sound Milo / Mica system with Martin Audio W8LM in/frontfills. With audio fed via AES/EBU, the complete system was in the digital domain, with the resulting excellent audio quality.
Outboard, as one would expect with a console such as the SD7, was minimal, but included XTA D2 processors on the all-important lead vocal channels, with each of Minogue’s three Sennheiser 5200 vocal microphones having its own channel on the SD7 plus a D2 across each one.
Pyne is also taking full advantage of the console’s recording and playback facilities.
“Typically, with a big production like this you don’t get much time when you’re doing over-nighters,? he says. “We were showing up in some venues in Europe at midday, so you don’t really have time for a sound check. But I record almost every night from the SD7 straight to a 48K ADK multitrack recorder. This means I can play back the previous night’s show through the console as if the band were there.?
With many positive comments about the tour’s sound and rave reviews from the critics, it’s clear that Pyne is more than happy with the SD7.
“We’ve had it since February and we’ve dropped it, pushed it into trucks, dropped it again, covered it in dust and it’s been really, really good. It’s amazing for a product so new to survive what we’ve been doing with it,? he smiles.
“We have a decent sized budget, there are no restrictions on what we want and if there was something better I would be using it. For me it has set a new benchmark for touring digital consoles.?
Meanwhile at the monitor position and integrating seamlessly with the SD7, Rod Matheson’s trusty DiGiCo D5 Live is, as always, dealing with a complex onstage setup with no fuss and peerless reliability.
“I use the latest V4 software that has a couple of extra bits on it that I like a lot,? he says. “There are a few new functions that help monitoring, such as when you press an aux the graphics pop up so they’re right at hand.?
Rod was providing 11 stereo in-ear mixes for the band, plus a stereo mix for the stage wedges, two shakers for the drummer and a further mix for the show’s dancers, sent to four speakers around the stage perimeter.
Two more stereo mixes went to technicians either side of stage, who were on IEMs and he also provided a stereo recording mix, fed straight to a CD recorder.
Rod utilised a snapshot on the D5 for each song which set a basic level, but from there he prefers to mix manually.
“We have the band working at a level where everything is pretty well ironed out and the snapshots are pretty close to the mark,? he says. “I tend to mix manually once the snapshot is loaded, but snapshots eliminate a lot of forgetfulness on a show of this complexity.
“For example, there are off/on functions for things like the brass because they don’t play on every song. We also have a spot where we have a second drum kit and piano on stage and it’s a very quick change over. I use just about all the inbuilt effects, a lot of compression in particular, as you’d expect.?
“As well as the quality of the products, the software is very stable, the facilities are very good and it will only get even better as time goes on – something that’s hugely important is the fact that DiGiCo are all ears,? concludes Pyne. “I will go to them saying ‘it needs this, it needs that and what about that?’ And they go, yes, no worries.
“They’ll send someone anywhere – within reason – to help or advise us. We’ll call them up at three in the morning asking questions and they’ll say ‘Don’t worry about it, just do this.’ The service side of the company is fantastic and that’s one of the best things about them.?


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