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DiGiCo SD10 Swings With McCune Audio At 54th Annual Monterey Jazz Fest

Wil Blades Trio

McCune Audio/Video/Lighting has been handling the audio services for the acclaimed Monterey Jazz Fest since the 1960′s. In business since 1932, this full service technical event production company has done its share of myriad events in its nearly 80-year history. They purchased their first DiGiCo, an SD10, and the console made its debut at the 54th Annual Festival this past September.

“We purchased the console for its flexibility, features, and sound quality,” said McCune VP, Mike Neal, “and were excited to get it out to the festival this year. The system includes the SD10 surface with HMA Optics and 3 of the D-Racks (32 x 16) that can operate at 48 or 96kHz so that we can easily deploy these stage racks where they are needed on a particular show. The console has exceeded our expectations and we’re looking forward to using it on a variety of events we have coming up in the near future.” The SD10 handled FOH duties at the Dizzy’s Den stage, with the weekend fare including interview segments during the day and bands in the evening—with live highlights from such names as John Pizzarelli, Donny McCaslin, Wil Blades, and Hiromi.

San Francisco State University graduate and McCune engineer Dunning Butler, who hadn’t worked on a DiGiCo console previously, was able to get his hands on the desk a few days pre-event. “Up until this point, we’ve been utilizing Yamaha digital consoles such as the LS9, M7 and the PM5D, as well as Midas analogue consoles. The board arrived at our shop only a few days before we had to load trucks, so I was able to have some time on the system prior to the festival. I didn’t need to use the offline software this time around, although I definitely will in the future. I made that call because the SD10 was new to me and I wanted to get as much hands-on time before the MJF as I could. Programming the SD10 was great experience. Obviously there was a learning curve as there is on any new system, but its OS system is very well thought out. They did a great job making the presets applicable to the entire console and the macro functions are absolutely genius. I did not need use any external gear at all…not even a system processor! Not that I recommend others do that, but we were just able to get it done with the onboard EQ’s and in this particular instance, it worked well.”

During some of the interviews, including a conversation with Clint Eastwood and HBO “Treme” star, Wendell Pierce, Butler handled source material coming from video decks and also a record feed. “The room was very tubby sounding, so I asked one of our other senior audio engineers, Nick Malgeri, who had mixed in that room in previous years to come help tune the PA. After it was tuned to our satisfaction I was very pleased with the results. I found the audio quality of the SD10 to be the best that I’ve heard coming from a digital console.” One feature Butler found himself utilizing quite a bit during the weekend was the SD10s macro keys. “I set up one key for every FX rack and another that flipped the board into ‘sends on fader’ mode. I also color-coded the keys Red for ‘Off’ and Green for ‘On’ with different names for each mode on the same switch. This made it very easy for guest engineers to jump on without a sound check, and start getting a mix together quickly.”

In retrospect, Dunning had nothing but a positive experience with the SD10 on his very first outing at the Monterey Jazz Fest. “I actually never had a moment the entire weekend where the board stumped me. I spent a lot of time anticipating what would be needed for the show and that influenced how I programmed the board ahead of time. When we first got the SD10, DiGiCo National Sales Manager Matt Larson gave me a tour of the console in person, and showed me his take on how to improve workflow, manage sessions and how to prepare for certain live situations. It really helped me immensely prepare for the hectic pace of the festival.”

Since the festival, the SD10 has gone on to taping sessions for the forthcoming season of the ABC show, “The Bachelor.”

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