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DiGiCo SD10 Will Rock You On Summer Queen Extravaganza Tour

Imagine being plucked from obscurity by a musical hero and hand-selected to be part of a tribute band celebrating the music of the iconic band Queen. That’s just what happened to nine veritably unknown singers and musicians from around the globe, chosen by Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, architects of the band’s sound, for The Queen Extravaganza summer tour band. Taylor, who took on the role of show producer and music director, wanted to create the ultimate Queen concert experience in an electrifying road show designed by a heavyweight production team headed by stage designer Mark Fisher, (known for memorable productions including “The Wall” for Pink Floyd and every Rolling Stones show since 1989) and Rob Sinclair (Adele, Peter Gabriel, Queen, Pet Shop Boys and Vampire Weekend). The tour celebrates Queen’s legacy and music, performed by some of the best new talent they could find.

Launched at the end of May, the tour travels to theatres in cities coast to coast across the United States and Canada through early July. At FOH is engineer James McCullagh, who manages the entire audio production from the helm of a DiGiCo SD10. Going into the tour, McCullagh was adamant about his console choice, having worked with DiGiCo SD desks on previous excursions with artists from Lucinda Williams to Journey. 



“I knew that I wanted to use a DiGiCo,” McCullagh recalls. “I said right up front it was non-negotiable. I’m a big fan of DiGiCo and I like the sound of the consoles. I’m familiar with the layout and it works well for me. There are a few things that I have in my arsenal that I knew would be beneficial in working with this band and the DiGiCo console is one of them. DiGiCo’s layout and functionality proves to be so much easier for me to run a show, and on this one, we’ve got nine singers onstage, 12 different effects channels running at one particular time, maybe seven to eight functional cues per song… There’s a lot going on and I needed a console that could deal with the intricacies of making that happen. For me it was a no-brainer to use a DiGiCo to ensure I would be able to get that huge drum sound and layered mass of vocals that Queen are known for.



“The problem was we had a hard time finding an available SD10 for the start of the rehearsals in Canada because they were all out on hire,” he adds, “but eventually, Clair Brothers was able to locate one. What was interesting was that, for the first week and a half, I was using a competitor’s console and it was the first time that I’d actually ever had a chance to A/B a console—in the same scenario, in the same room, with the same band, with the same mics and the same PA, and under the same conditions. And the difference between the two consoles was like night and day! It was like somebody pulled a blanket off the mix. People who didn’t even know that I’d changed consoles came up to me going, ‘What did you do to the sound? It sounds so much better!’ I’ve used all the digital consoles out there and they all do the job, but I was never really aware of the actual sound difference. All of a sudden it was like there was air over the cymbals and the vocal that was gone on the other console. The low end was just like somebody opened up a floodgate of lows that just extended on the SD10. I think the DiGiCo console is the closest digital console that you’re going to get to an analog sound. They’ve really gotten the conversions right; they’re really good. The way the console sounds is excellent, and a whole lot more functional for me. That was quite a revelation.” 



Going into rehearsals, the Queen Extravaganza touring band—comprised of four vocalists and five musicians—had never played together in the same room. They united in Toronto for a two-week band rehearsal (followed by a two-week production run-through in Montreal) to polish the plethora of material for their two-hour show: roughly 40 of the band’s biggest chart hits, finest heavy-duty rock based anthems, and early-period Queen numbers. Not surprisingly, the band’s input count came to 48 inputs, which included 16 channels of drum, two channels of bass, four channels of guitar (“part of getting Brian May’s guitar sound is miking the front and back of the Vox AC30 and we’ve got two guitarists on each end”), six channels of piano and keyboard, and nine channels of vocals as everyone in the band sings.


”I wanted to track and record all the rehearsals on separate tracks and being able to do that via MADI was one of the big advantages of using the DiGiCo,” said McCullagh. “I know that there are other consoles out there now that can do it as well but my first experience of doing that was with the DiGiCo via an RME MADI card into my MacBook Pro laptop and a separate hard drive. It’s very useful to be able to record and have anyone in the band, or the musical director, or Roger, come back and listen to a particular track.”

McCullagh made use of extensive grouping to organize all the vocals as well as snapshots on most of the songs for vocal routing and vocal balancing. “Obviously, each singer has their own channel, but sometimes the lead singer is the lead singer and sometimes he’s the backing singer,” he explains. “I created a stereo group and called it ‘backing vocals’ and sent all the backing vocals into that group and then I slammed that with a compressor. The Queen songs have very intricate harmonies and each vocalist sings at a different level. It was too much to have nine compressors going across nine channels over a loud rock band with drums and everything. It was easier for me to put one compressor over a group. That way, if someone sings slightly harder, or if I push a level a little bit too hard, that vocal won’t just jump out and sound awkward. It’s all squashed back into the mix and that helps to get that really tight, layered Queen harmony sound. I’m using the Waves LA2A plug-in, which is an awesome-sounding plug-in and very close to the real thing, and it does a real good job in smoothing out all the peaks and lows of the backing vocals. On each vocalist, I’m running an LA2A as well as a C6 multiband compressor, which helps take out any little areas where somebody’s voice might be a little resonant or deficient. With the dynamic range that Freddie Mercury had, each vocalist goes through a lot of changes and the C6 certainly helps to smooth it all out and make the voice sound completely natural.



“In addition, I’m running two TC4000′s and a TC Helicon VoiceLive on the vocals as well as an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer for the flange sounds. I sat down with Roger and we’ve very carefully gone over what they did in the studio and how he wanted to recreate it live. One thing I want to mention adamantly is that I’m not using any tricks or any doublers or harmonizers on any vocals to provide layering. All the layering is strictly from the singers. The massive sound is all them; there’s no artificial recreation or any of that. That’s important to say because we don’t want people to think that it’s all technology that’s making them sound like they do. These guys are sounding that way because they’re that good!”



For the extensive drum kit, McCullagh is running two parallel stereo busses. One is an unprocessed group feeding into another group, which is then compressed. “I’m running a Waves API 2500 plug-in across that, which is super-compressed with a lot of snap and a lot of pop-punch. I then blend those two busses to get the drum sound that I want, because obviously the drum sounds changed from the ‘70s to the ‘80s. In the ‘70s, it was more natural sounding and in the ‘80s, everything became very compressed and over-EQ’d. I didn’t want to be changing my drum sounds on snapshots or re-EQing my drums for every song, so I basically took various different balances of ungated and uncompressed, natural-sounding drum kits and very heavily EQ’d and compressed sounding drum kits, and blended the two together for my drum sound.”



McCullagh routes the toms to both drum busses and then to a third buss, which he calls “fat toms.” “I’ve got some Waves Renaissance Bass and VEq vintage EQs going on there and then I’ve pasted all the sub-harmonics of the toms and a little bit of cut so whenever there’s a big purposeful tom hit, I can fatten up the toms by riding in a little of the extra tom buss. Obviously, if I leave it on permanently when there are some really busy tom fills, then it’ll just sound like a bunch of low end and you don’t want that much low end on the toms. You want it to cut a bit more like a single tom hit, especially on songs like ‘We Will Rock You’ or ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’ By doing that I can really push it up and get a really huge tom sound.”

For the rest of the band sound, McCullagh employs minimal onboard effects. “The guitars are pretty much run with a flat EQ,” he says. “There are two Vox AC30s turned up to stun with a mic in front of them and then I just put the fader up. The piano sounds—we have a grand piano and some keyboards—are pretty much just using a bit of EQ and not much compression or anything going on there. My main focus for this band is all about getting huge drum sounds, great guitar sounds, and a massive wall of vocals… that’s pretty much how Queen worked and that’s what I’ve gone for.”



One of the features McCullagh is enjoying the most at the moment is the SD10′s Macro Smart Keys, which helps with myriad cues he’s managing from song to song. “I’m using a bunch of them,” he says. “I might use a delay in one part of a song or a delay on just a guitar just in one part of a song and not the rest, and they enable me to turn a vocal delay on and off without having to do that in my snapshots. I use them for mute buttons, to pull up my snapshots, open my snapshots page, and open my notes page. I’ve created a buss features page, and I have them to turn on reverbs for guitars, and turn on delays for vocals and guitars. I have another button assigned to turn my pink noise on and off, and another to switch between the playback on the computer, the recorded tracks, or the actual mic onstage. So without having to go to a drop-down menu, I can just hit the button and switch. All of my tracks that are recorded are coming back up on the same channels on the console, so we can listen to it in real time and make changes, get compression levels, and dial in EQs. It’s very handy when you’re trying to get a tom EQ or a tom gate set. You can just dupe a section of the toms, press Play, and keep hitting the same tom over and over again and set your gates and EQ and then move on to the next. It’s a very handy process. Another cool thing is you can assign a color to a button and it’s got a dual function. For example, it can be green when it’s on and red when it’s off, which is really handy in the dark.”



With the tour now in full force, McCullagh says he’s not surprised rave reviews are flooding in, given the stellar level of music, lighting and video offered at a time when many show productions are scaling back. “I haven’t seen this level of production for a theatre show,” he marvels. “Not in this day and age when people are dealing with shrinking budgets because of financial constraints. But even with our tight budget, these guys have managed to make it feel like the stadium shows the way Queen used to do it. That’s the level of production that they’ve put together and they’ve done a fantastic job because, whether you’re a Queen fan or not, you’re going to walk out of the show saying, ‘Wow! That was amazing! I definitely got my money’s worth!’

“Another thing: In this era, where tons of bands are using Pro Tools rigs and playing to backing tracks, we don’t have any. Everything that you hear is 100% live. All the harmonies are from the guys singing. There is no miming, no tracks, no help. In fact, I haven’t worked with a band in a long time, except Lucinda Williams, who hasn’t used backing tracks. On this tour, there’s nothing, and I think that’s pretty impressive. The band and singers are awesome and they are going to blow people’s minds. But what do you expect when you’ve got Roger and Brian at the controls, handpicking them?”

SYMETRIX DELIVERS TELECONFERENCING

symnet_edge.JPGSEATTLE, WASHINGTON – JUNE 2012: Symetrix has announced a full-featured and flexible teleconferencing solution with the launch of a four-channel AEC card for use with the company’s SymNet Edge modular I/O DSP platform. The new AEC card provides optimum wide-band intelligibility while offering flexible system configuration to meet today’s business and educational teleconferencing needs.

“Teleconferencing systems that use the new SymNet Edge AEC input card will deliver noticeably more intelligible, natural sounding audio than was possible with previous-generation systems,” said Paul Roberts, CEO at Symetrix. “The new four-channel card works flexibly within a larger SymNet Edge system, offering four mic/line inputs, a discrete reference input per channel, and zero-latency direct outputs per channel for local reinforcement. The AEC processing may be applied to the cards’ direct physical inputs or to any input routed to the card from within the SymNet Edge system. This more

ANTENNA COMPANY RF VENUE DEBUTS NEW PRODUCTS AT INFOCOMM 2012

rfvenue_infocomm.JPGLAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 2012: Antenna and wireless products manufacturer RFvenue (InfoComm Booth #C11542) unveiled three new products on Wednesday, marking the one-year anniversary of its first antenna product, the Diversity Fin. CEO Chris Regan announced two new extensions of the popular dual element antenna system, including an EU version covering 470-790 MHz and also matte white and matte black architectural versions.

RFvenue also showed its new four-channel antenna distribution system which can interface with any brand wireless microphone receiver, and provide DC power distribution functions from a high-quality internal power supply, eliminating extra power modules. Other additions to the RFvenue product line include high-quality, American-made, mounting equipment, and a 2.4 GHz long-range helical antenna for extended range performance for new digital wireless microphones and production communication systems.

Also shown at RFvenue’s booth is its newly designed UHF ceiling antenna for more

Yamaha Audioversity Expo Heads to Atlanta

BUENA PARK, Calif.⎯The third annual Yamaha Audioversity Expo will take place in Atlanta, Georgia on August 1-2, 2012 at the Cobb Galleria Centre. The specialized event is catered toward audio professionals and all those interested in gaining in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience of Yamaha Commercial Audio and NEXO products.

The Yamaha Audioversity Expo will feature digital mixer training seminars including sessions on the new Yamaha CL console, panel discussions with leading industry professionals, NEXO and Yamaha speaker listening demos featuring live music, hands-on line array rigging demonstrations, acoustic prediction software presentations, clinics featuring Dante audio networking solutions, portable sound applications from small to large, and Commercial Installations Solutions.

A special appearance will be made by the state-of-the-art Rolling Showroom housing the new Yamaha CL digital console as well as all the latest Yamaha Commercial Audio products. There will be plenty of time for Q&A with knowledgeable experts on all things Yamaha Commercial Audio and NEXO as well as with industry partners. Audioversity will feature live music, raffle prizes*, and additional surprises.

This event is free-of-charge and open to the audio community. For those attending from out-of-town, hotel recommendations can also be found on the Audioversity Expo website.

To register, visit http://www.audioversityexpo.com. Check the site often for updates.

-END-

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER AND WIN. The Drawing is open to each attendee at the Audioversity Expo who is a U.S. resident at least 18 years old. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.

About Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.:
Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. (YCAS) provides a full line of integrated professional audio products offering complete systems solutions for the broadcast, sound reinforcement/installed sound, touring, commercial recording, and post production markets. With the addition of NEXO to the product line, the company remains the official U.S. and Canadian distributor for all NEXO speaker models. YCAS offers comprehensive in-house and field product training for its customers, a dedicated dealer network, and 24/7 technical support.

Digital Projection’s dual-lamp TITAN 660 series receives Pro Series 3 upgrades – Warp, Blend & advanced 3D capabilities

Atlanta, GA (InfoComm 2012) – Digital Projection International (DPI), an Emmy® Award-winning manufacturer of high-performance projection systems, announces a major capabilities update to the dual-lamp, high brightness TITAN 660 platform. Previously, the incredibly bright TITAN 660 and TITAN 700 models presented a powerful and rugged 3-chip DLP display with extreme brightness for large screens or high ambient light environments. By graduating to DPI’s latest NextGen electronics platform, more

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Digital Projection’s TITAN 330 series now upgraded to Pro Series 3 – enhanced capabilities include Warp & Blend and advanced 3D models

Atlanta, GA (May 16, 2012) – Digital Projection International (DPI), an Emmy® Award-winning manufacturer of high-performance projection systems, announces a major capabilities update to the fully-certified portrait and tilt capable TITAN 330 platform. Previously, the remarkably flexible TITAN 330 displays stood as unmatched solutions for 2D or 3D applications needing either single-projector, portrait mode imaging solutions, or applications needing to tilt their displays at extreme angles. By more

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Digital Projection chooses distribution partner for Latin America

Atlanta, GA (InfoComm 2012) – Digital Projection International (DPI), an Emmy® Award-winning manufacturer of high-performance projection systems, announces the selection of Worldwide Trading Corporation (WWT) as a distributor for DPI’s line of precision displays throughout Latin America. Working side by side with DPI’s own established dealer network, WWT will now offer DPI’s precision displays directly to their extensive network of dealers, integrators and stagers. Effective immediately, this partnership increases more

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Digital Projection chooses distribution partner for North America

Atlanta, GA (InfoComm 2012) – Digital Projection International (DPI), an Emmy® Award-winning manufacturer of high-performance projection systems, announces the selection of IAVI as a Commercial AV distributor for DPI’s line of precision displays in North America. Working side by side with DPI’s own established dealer network, IAVI will now offer DPI’s precision displays directly to their extensive dealer network. Effective immediately, this partnership will increase DPI’s market reach and more

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Digital Projection upgrades budget-conscious, all-purpose professional projector line with new E-Vision 7000

Atlanta, GA (InfoComm 2012) – Digital Projection International (DPI), an Emmy® Award-winning manufacturer of high-performance projection systems, announces a broad upgrade to their E-Vision series–the newest platform in DPI’s high-brightness, high-value projection line. DPI’s existing E-Vision WXGA 600, a popular display solution within the corporate AV and house of worship community, will graduate to the E-Vision WXGA 7000 moniker. Alongside this change comes both an increase in more

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Media Vision USA Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary during InfoComm; Looking back on a Perfect American Journey to Success.

“It took just about ten years for the industry to know we’ve arrived!” said Fardad Zabetian, Founder and CEO of Media Vision USA, as he announced the 10-year anniversary of the company, “Now that the TAIDEN microphones and interpretation systems have become a reference in the conferencing world, Media Vision is ready to take a great leap forward!”

A tremendous growth pace and key contracts signed in the past years have given Fardad Zabetian all the reasons to speak with such confidence. The defining moment being in late 2011, when Media Vision was awarded the contract to provide all congress microphones and simultaneous interpretation systems for the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Since then, opportunities with both the public and the private sectors have surged.

Media Vision USA celebrated its 10-year anniversary during InfoComm 2012 in Las Vegas. The company was founded in June of 2002 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Following the thriving Silicon Valley spirit, Media Vision’s founding history is filled with the flavors of entrepreneurship, risk-taking, hard work and most of all the dreams of an immigrant making it all happen. In 2002, Fardad was a recent immigrant from Iran who had experienced 8-years of the Iran-Iraq war. America gave him a chance to pursue his dreams; starting a company to enhance communication among political figures, administrators, CEO’s and corporate members of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

This all-American story wouldn’t be complete without the collaboration of great partners and team members. The first one to join Media Vision was Wesley Sutliff, now a Product Manager. Later came industry experts Patrick Herlihy, based in Washington DC, and David Dunn based in Toronto. “In the past year only, we have hired four people for technical and customer support,” said Fardad Zabetian “We are doing what it takes to ensure that customers keep on receiving the attention and service they demand. For us, business growth and customer-orientation stick together”.

Through the years, Media Vision was also able to maintain a rich company culture based on excellence, diversity and positive attitude. The same values were applied when, in 2006, Media Vision selected TAIDEN of Shenzhen, China, as their manufacturing partner. “At the time, TAIDEN wasn’t a major player in North America; but they already had excellent solutions, dynamic strategies for innovation, and most of all, a management and engineering team willing to give its all to succeed” said Fardad, “With the recent release of the 8300 Paperless Multimedia Conference System, TAIDEN exceeded all our expectations. We are proud to be working with them!”. As a result of a six-year partnership, with Media Vision’s sales and marketing drive, TAIDEN is now the leading brand for conference systems in the United States and Canada.

With the announcement of Media Vision’s anniversary, an apparent excitement animated the entire team. “We’re celebrating!” said Wesley Sutliff “We’ve worked hard, even more through tough economic times, now we all feel rewarded for a job well done. Still, it’s only the beginning”. Wesley continued by describing how overall, working in the niche market for conference systems gets more and more rewarding every day, as you know your products are serving high-profile public figures and key decision-makers. “We are providing all microphones and interpretation systems for the 2012 G-20 Mexico Summit this month. So we are all hoping, as an anniversary gift, to see the TAIDEN mics used by the President of the United States!”

Fardad Zabetian concluded his announcement with a note of thanks towards the Media Vision team, our reps and partners, as well as the ever-extending network of dealers and consultants throughout North America. “ I have special thoughts for all of those who believed in the company from the start, we couldn’t have done it without them.”

About Media Vision USA
Media Vision USA is a leading provider of professional wired and wireless conferencing solutions for meeting rooms, VTC boardrooms, training centers, council chambers and auditoriums. Supported by feature-rich, flexible technologies, powerful software, and a dedicated product engineering team, we work with system integrators and consultants to design conferencing solutions that improve the quality of the audio in the room, and outside the room for distance communication. Additional information can be found at www.mediavisionusa.com

Fardad Zabetian, Founder and CEO

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Stay up to date on the latest technology news. Select press representatives post company news several times a day. Check back often to get the latest news on product releases, mergers and acquisitions, and product applications. To be included in this virtual press conference, please contact The Wire.

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