A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor

Archive of the NSCA Newslink Category

ASHLY GETS THE MESSAGE AND MUSIC TO STUDENTS IN THE ROCHESTER HIGH SCHOOL CAFETERIA

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK – MARCH 2013: The principal at John Marshall High School in Rochester, New York had a simple request. He just wanted to be able to speak over the commotion of excited students that always seemed to overwhelm the school’s cafeteria at lunchtime. A sound reinforcement system with a simple microphone was the solution. But since a sound reinforcement system would also be capable of playing music – and perhaps because music might soothe the raw spirit of rambunctious youth – he also wanted the ability to play music over the system. Rochester’s AAA Sound stepped in to install a cost-effective, high-performance system centered on an Ashly Pema 4125 integrated processor/amplifier combo and an Ashly RD-8C remote fader user interface.

“The principle told our technician that the kids were simply too loud at lunchtime,” said Rich Petty, AAA Sound president. “It was a really straightforward request for a really straightforward sound reinforcement system. The ability to play music at lunchtime was a bonus.”

Inputs to the system include a pair of Mipro handheld wireless microphones, a wired microphone, a tuner, and a Tascam combination CD player and iPod dock. The inputs feed the Ashly Pema 4125, which has eight DSP inputs and outputs with full processing and matrixing capabilities, as well as four integrated amplifier channels rated at 125W each. Each amplifier channel drives a single Community MVP-12 loudspeaker, and the four loudspeakers are distributed around the room. An Ashly RD-8C provides nine software-assignable faders, one of which is separated in the style of a master fader. The system at John Marshall High School uses the simplest possible configuration: each of the eight faders controls an input volume and the master fader controls the output volume.

“The Ashly Pema is a cost-effective solution for a situation like this,” said Petty. “The pricing is very favorable and very competitive. Our company specs jobs with a number of different processors, and the feedback that I get from my techs is that Ashly processing is the easiest to work with. It doesn’t take a lot of training to become familiar with the operation… literally five minutes in the shop with a tech that’s not familiar with Ashly is all it takes for him to feel comfortable enough to go out and install it. Every now and then they run up against something that takes a minute; they either figure it out or a quick call to Ashly’s service department clears up the matter.”

“For a school cafeteria,” proclaimed Petty, “John Marshall High School has a really nice sound system.”

ABOUT ASHLY AUDIO Ashly Audio Inc. is recognized as a world leader in the design and manufacturing of high quality & high performance signal processing equipment and power amplification for use in the commercial sound contracting and professional audio markets. The 37-year old company is headquartered in Webster, New York U.S.A.

www.ashly.com

TANGLES TAMED AT OKLAHOMA CHURCH WITH SYMETRIX JUPITER 12 AND JUPITER 8 APP BASED TURN-KEY DSP

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA – MARCH 2013: Since its founding during the hard dustbowl years, Oklahoma City’s Southwest Church of Christ has grown steadily in membership. A series of buildings and sanctuaries of ever-growing capacity trace a path from the church’s first meeting, which took place in a member’s living room, to its modern 700-plus-seat sanctuary. Although only a decade old, Southwest Church of Christ’s latest building quickly amassed an ad hoc collection of sound reinforcement equipment that strained the capacity of the technician’s booth and often flummoxed the volunteer technicians who attempted to use it. Hoping to maintain its functionality while greatly simplifying the user interface, the church contacted Robert Rogers, senior design consultant with Audio Video Designs (AVD) of nearby Moore, Oklahoma. AVD used a cost-effective Symetrix Jupiter 12 app based turn-key DSP to replace all of the analog clutter. The church was so pleased with the improvement that they asked AVD to integrate their three fellowship halls, and AVD obliged using a Symetrix Jupiter 8 running the Sound Reinforcement #6 app configured to do room combining.

“The audio booth was cluttered with consoles, switches, and dials, with a few computers and screens thrown in for good measure,” explained Jeff Brocaw, design consultant with AVD. “They just kept adding on as new needs presented themselves. Not only was the sanctuary system controlled from the booth, so too were the more modest systems in the three fellowship halls.” Because the input sources and loudspeakers were all still in fine shape, AVD was able to leave them in place. However, new Crown and ElectroVoice four-channel amplifiers now power the system.

“Of course, money was a huge factor, and the Symetrix Jupiter 12 DSP was the logical choice,” said Brocaw. “We could eliminate all that clutter with the processing power in that single rack space unit, and they wouldn’t have to spend $20K on a digital console.” The twelve inputs of the Jupiter 12 collect outputs from all of the stage microphones, as well as from video playback devices and a pair of ambient microphones for use in recording. The Jupiter 12’s four outputs send signal to the main sanctuary system, the three fellowship halls, and a computer-based recorder, as well as hallways and other areas of the building. One of the outputs is currently unused and awaits future expansion.

Partly because there are a lot of open microphones on stage, Brocaw used the “Gating Automixer” app with the Jupiter 12. The gates effectively eliminate feedback problems that the church was having with the old system. For Sunday service, the system operator makes adjustments from a computer running the Symetrix Jupiter software. “Now it takes very little effort to run a service,” said Fred Lowery, with the church. “When needed, we mix from within the app. For the simpler Wednesday service, the pastor can make any necessary adjustments from a Symetrix ARC-2e wall panel remote. He doesn’t even have to turn on the computer! The church fell in love with the simplicity of the new Jupiter-based system.”

In fact, they were so pleased that they requested a similar transformation of the ad hoc room combining system that they had constructed. With eight inputs, eight outputs, and an app easily-made to perform room-combining (Sound Reinforcement #6) the Symetrix Jupiter 8 was the obvious cost-effective solution. “As with the Jupiter 12, the Jupiter 8’s interface is sufficiently simple that church staff and volunteers can use it reliably,” said Brocaw. “That simplicity, together with processing power and affordability, made the Jupiter 8 the right choice.”

The Symetrix Jupiter 8 takes its inputs from each of the fellowship halls, and sends outputs back to each of the fellowship halls. Additionally, three hard disc recorders stand ready to capture events that take place in the fellowship halls. Users execute room combining by opening the matrix from within the Jupiter software application. Any input can be sent to any output, and by incorporating input from and outputs to the main sanctuary system, all four rooms can be combined in any desired configuration.

ABOUT SYMETRIX Symetrix engineers high-end professional audio solutions, specializing in DSP hardware and software. Symetrix products are distributed worldwide, and designed and manufactured in the U.S. at the Seattle area headquarters. Since 1976, customers have enjoyed the benefits of Symetrix’ independent ownership and management. For more information on Symetrix professional audio products, please visit www.symetrix.co or call +1 (425) 778-7728.

Morris Light & Sound Takes Delivery of First NEXO STM System in North America

BUENA PARK, Calif.—An early adopter of NEXO loudspeaker systems, Nashville-based Morris Light & Sound is the first in North America to take delivery of the new, flagship NEXO STM loudspeaker system, it was announced today by the Company and Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. (YCAS).

The 200+-box STM system includes 68 STM M46, 80 STM B112 bass, 48 STM S118 subs, 22 NUAR Racks, 12 PS10R2 speakers, 18 RS18 Ray Subs, and 16 GEO S12 loudspeakers. Two Yamaha DME64N Digital Mix Engines have also been purchased to run 16 channels of Lake Mesa EQ for zone control when required. The company also owns 24 NEXO 45-N12 line monitors.

Morris Light and Sound is a full service production and integration company with more than 25 years experience in the entertainment industry providing professional audio, video, and lighting services for live events, tours and the fixed installation marketplace throughout North America.

We are extremely pleased to be collaborating with Morris Light & Sound on the new STM system and excited to introduce them as our first NEXO STM associate in North America,” states Paul Furtkamp, National Sales Manager, Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. “Involved with STM since its early stages, Morris L & S has provided very valuable input to NEXO on its development. Both NEXO and YCAS are very proud to be aligned with a company like Morris Light & Sound that truly define what it means to be on the cutting edge of a new technology like NEXO STM. We look forward to a very long and productive relationship between our two companies.”

The NEXO STM Series (Scale Through Modularity) loudspeaker cabinets are the first of its kind on the market. Ideal for touring, festivals, and sound company rental, the new system combines the best of Alpha functionality with the technical innovation of NEXO’s patented Hyperbolic Reflector and venting design in which all radiating surfaces are in phase, delivering a powerful, flexible, and easy to use system. STM enables line array systems to scale up or down depending on event audience size, from 1,000 to 100,000 people.

The STM system can be configured from three discrete loudspeaker elements: M46 main, B112 bass, S118 sub-bass modules with plans to release addition STM components in the near future. System configurations can comprise arrays of main cabinets only, main plus bass, or bass plus main plus bass. STM is unique in that it is the first vertical array system to offer scalable LF, making it easy to add extra bass cabinets for increased power and headroom, without introducing unwanted phase anomalies makes STM unique, as it is the first vertical array system to offer scalable LF. Deploying the dedicated subbass cabinets, either in the arrays or as ground-stacks, further increases the system’s options. The ‘Omni’ fill speakers complete the coverage pattern, whatever the scale of the system. STM also features a very innovative “one-man” rigging system that allows quick and safe construction of STM configurations. PistonRigTM allows pre-setting of inter-cabinet angle values. REDLockTM handle locks front rigging points from rear of cabinet. All adjustments made from one position at rear of cluster.

“From our first trip to NEXO headquarters over a year ago, we immediately embraced the concept of STM,” states David Haskell, President, Morris Light & Sound. “The ability to scale the system for audiences from 1,000 to 100,000 got our attention. And, after working closely with the NEXO team, I can proudly say they have delivered the most flexible and best sounding system I have heard in many years. We are proud to be a developmental partner with NEXO and YCAS in bringing this wonderful new product to the market and look forward to a lasting relationship.”

For more information on Morris Light & Sound, visit www.morrislightandsound.com.

For more information on the NEXO STM system, visit www.yamahaca.com.

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PHOTO ID: L to R: Morris L&S V.P, John Mills; Paul Furtkamp, YCAS National Sales Manager; David Haskell, President, Morris L&S

About Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.:
Celebrating 125 years of Passion and Performance, and 25 years in the manufacturer of high quality digital audio consoles, 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.

Yamaha CL Firmware Upgrade Now Available

BUENA PARK, Calif.—Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. has announced the availability of Version 1.51 firmware upgrade for the CL Digital Console Series.

New features include Scene Preview functionality; the Help function is further supported by an on-screen reference guide, which once loaded, resides in the console permanently. The recently launched Ri8-D, Ro8-D, and NXAmp with NXDT104 have been added as Dante devices that can be detected/patched into the CL Series. A CUE LEVEL knob has been added to the CUE section, allowing adjustment of the CUE level and can be assigned to a custom fader or user defined knob. The HPF in the Parametric EQ section has been improved with an option for a slope of -12dB/oct or -6dB/oct.

Yamaha CL Version 1.51 also includes improvements to the DANTE SETUP screen, and a NEW I/O DEVICE screen, separate from the VIRTUAL RACK screen has been added, allowing for more flexible control and management of each I/O device.

“Our company continually strives to make significant improvements and additions of key features and benefits to systems’ firmware that will be beneficial to our customers,” states Kevin Kimmel, Systems Application Engineer, Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. “Version 1.51 for the CL Series is proof that we don’t just put a new product out, we continue to improve on that product based on input from our end users.”

Yamaha CL Version 1.51 firmware upgrade is available now, free of charge via download at www.yamahaca.com.

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About Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.:
Celebrating 125 years of Passion and Performance, and 25 years in the manufacturer of high quality digital audio consoles, 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.

BROOKLYN-BASED KEMADO RECORDS INSTALLS 32-CHANNEL API 1608

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK: Kemado Records is the latest studio to install a 32-Channel version of API’s popular 1608 console. Kemado, long known for bringing national attention to innovative artists spanning the spectrum from indie rock to heavy metal, choose the 1608 to complement its recent plans for expansion, which included the creation of two new labels (Mexican Summer and Software), a brick-and-mortar record store, and a recording studio in 2009.

Kemado’s founders Andrés Santo Domingo and Tom Clapp are happy to report that the recording studio has seen near continual use and offers clients over 1,000 square-feet of tracking space. Kemado’s new 1608 is housed in the larger of two separate control rooms.

Deciding what would replace the existing console became increasingly clear as the choices were analyzed and rejected, explained Clapp. “We figured that if we were going to replace a classic vintage console, we had to replace it with something in the same respected sonic family. But at the same time, we wanted to avoid the near-constant servicing required of some older consoles. So we decided we wanted something new but still classic, which made the 1608 the perfect fit; it’s a classic console with a classic sound. Plus it’s designed to be in constant use, and the modular design ensures that it can be serviced when that time comes. The other options we looked at were not in the same sonic league with the 1608, nor were they built for the long haul.”

Clapp and colleagues burned the midnight oil and installed the new console in just three days, and synched the 1608 into a fully-decked Pro Tools HD rig with 48in/48out, a Studer 827A tape machine, and a Studer A80 VU mix-down deck. And with so many engineers coming through the door, part of the 1608’s allure was its straightforward topology and signal flow, as was its gain structure. “The 1608 definitely has a modern gain structure, in contrast to many of the choices we reviewed,” said Clapp. Choosing that classic API sound was, in Clapp’s words, a “no-brainer”.

“I’ve worked with API gear before, and I love the fast transients and headroom,” he said. “We even tried 500-series modules from a range of high-end manufacturers to fill out the 1608’s API 500-Series slots, but we kept coming back to the API sound.” To date, eighteen of the available 32 slots have been filled with API 550b 4-band and API 560 graphic EQs. “We’re going to slowly fill the rest of the slots with API EQs down the road,” Clapp promises.

ABOUT API (AUTOMATED PROCESSES, INC.) Established more than 40 years ago, Automated Processes, Inc. is the leader in analog recording gear with the Vision, Legacy Series and 1608 recording consoles, as well as its classic line of modular signal processing equipment.

www.apiaudio.com

ASHLY PROCESSORS AND AMPS EARN AN ENCORE

COLUMBUS, OHIO: Encore is a new, high-spirited nightclub located in the Crosswoods neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. Its strategy for success is to show patrons such a fantastic time that they quickly return to enjoy an encore. Tasteful bar food, a wide range of drinks, and elegant décor and lighting provide the perfect frame for Encore’s daily upscale party. But the heart of the party resides in an articulate, high-SPL, bass-rich sound system designed and installed by local A/V integrator Demmer Audio Video Solutions. Two Ashly 3.6SP Protea digital speaker processors and six Ashly KLR Series amplifiers drive the sound system – and thus Encore’s enthusiastic patrons – nightly.

The new club occupies approximately 2,500 square-feet on a single floor, with a large main room and dance floor complemented by a handful of smaller rooms that are available for private functions. “The owners were looking for a very reliable sound system with solid fidelity and bass,” said Ken Demmer, owner of Demmer Audio Video Solutions. “Moreover, they wanted to be able to come in, turn it on, and know that it would work as expected. They didn’t want to worry about adjusting this or that, and they wanted the minimal access necessary to simply plug in a DJ, select a source, and adjust the volume. That’s it.”

Inputs to the system include a DISH Satellite interface, a cable interface, an iPod dock, a computer media player, and, of course, a DJ input. Because the owners requested it based on their familiarity with systems at their other establishments, Demmer installed a DBX ZonePRO processor for input selection and volume control. However, the meat of the processing at Encore resides within two Ashly 3.6SP Protea digital speaker processors.

“The Ashly Protea processors have excellent sonic quality,” Demmer said. “They’re very clean, the equalization is smooth, and the conversion is nice. The programming software is easy to use, and I can save the configuration program on my laptop, load it via a straightforward USB connection, and lock out the front panel of the unit so that no one fiddles with the settings. That’s a big selling point for my clients – it protects their investment.”

Six Ashly KLR-2000, two Ashly KLR-4000, and three Ashly KLR-5000 amplifiers power the system. Six Community S-3294 three-way twelve-inch speakers, four Community VLF212 dual twelve-inch subwoofers, and six Community VLF118 single eighteen-inch subwoofers comprise the new sound reinforcement system for the dance floor. Existing distributed ceiling-mounted loudspeakers contribute to even coverage throughout the establishment.

“When I first heard of the Ashly KLR Series, the price seemed too good to be true,” Demmer said. “But I still see classic Ashly amps still running day-in and day-out in the field. They build things to last. So I bought a pair of KLR-5000s to power some subwoofers, and they were beat to death. But they held their own, and now I’m happy to install them to deliver high-performance systems on a budget. In addition, they are lightweight and energy-efficient, which are both great selling points.”

Demmer once had a service issue with an Ashly amplifier. “I understand that even well-made things break every so often,” he said. “What impressed me was how great and speedy Ashly’s service was. They turned it around immediately and got it back to me in a matter of a few days.”

ABOUT ASHLY AUDIO Ashly Audio Inc. is recognized as a world leader in the design and manufacturing of high quality & high performance signal processing equipment and power amplification for use in the commercial sound contracting and professional audio markets. The 37-year old company is headquartered in Webster, New York U.S.A.

www.ashly.com

SYMETRIX ARC-WEB USER CONTROL INTERFACE AND JUPITER APP-BASED TURN-KEY DSP CLINCHES THE TITLE FOR SAM’S SPORTS GRILL

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: Sam’s Sports Grill opened in 2000, and Nashvillians have voted it the Best Sports Bar in the city for ten years in a row. Clearly, Sam Sanchez and his team know how to deliver a great sports bar experience. Food created from scratch (with gluten-free options!), dozens of beers on tap, and a whopping 70-inch flat screen TV with all the major sports packages, make Sam’s Sports Grill a winner. However, like any establishment, Sam’s Sports Grill had room for improvement. Recently, Sam chose Darrin Fabish, account manager at Nashville’s Audio Electronics, Inc. (AEI), to overhaul the existing sound system at the Hillsboro Village location. The overhaul resulted in replacing all the speakers and adding a Symetrix Jupiter 8 App Based Turn-Key DSP. The Symetrix Jupiter 8 DSP delivers multi-zone content with user control achieved through Symetrix’ forward-thinking ARC-WEB interface for smartphones and other Internet-connected devices.

Sam’s Sports Grill’s Hillsboro Village location (there are three others in Hendersonville and Murfreesboro, TN and Florence, AL) is just a short walk from the AEI offices. “I meet some friends there for lunch regularly,” said Darrin. “As sometimes happens, I was talking to them about upgrading another client’s sound system when Sam overheard me. Although the bar has a great visual setup with plenty of high-definition screens, the audio system lacked zoned audio. Although they could have different games on at the bar and on the patio, the whole place had to listen to one or the other – or music.”

After determining that AEI could give Sam’s Sports Grill a fresh start, Darrin suggested replacing components of the old system. “Eight-ohm speakers were wired for 70-volt and vice versa,” he said. “Residential and commercial components were mixed. This system really needed attention.” Darrin retained the original inputs to the system, two DirecTV receivers, a jukebox, and a music source, and added a microphone input for use on bar trivia night. In addition, a pair of TOA amplifiers and the existing equipment rack were repurposed in the new system.

With eight mic- or line-level inputs and eight outputs, a Symetrix Jupiter 8 DSP forms the core of the new system and leaves a few inputs and outputs for the bar to grow into. “The Jupiter 8 has all of the necessary processing facilities, including easy zone management,” said Darrin. “And given everything that it can do, it’s very competitively priced.” Three zones now comprise the system so that the patio, bar, and seating areas can all have different input sources and volumes. When music is selected, the background music source plays unless a customer plays the jukebox, in which case the background music is muted until the jukebox song is finished. A Bose FreeSpace 3 combined subwoofer/full-range system provides output for each of the zones, and Bose DS-100 surface mounted speakers in the patio lure customers from the sidewalk outside.

“Symetrix’ ARC-WEB technology was a huge selling point at Sam’s,” said Darrin. “Both the owner and the manager are running ARC-WEB from their phones. There’s really something to the fact that these guys can just walk over to a zone and adjust the input and volume right then and there. No more adjusting the volume and then walking over to see if it’s loud enough (or too loud). They seem to really like it. I’m starting to pitch this Symetrix-based solution at other locations. A lot of the owners are young and hip, and they love the ARC-WEB technology.” For those rare occasions when the owner or manager isn’t around, staff can still make necessary adjustments from a hardwired Symetrix ARC-2e wall panel remote.

ABOUT SYMETRIX Symetrix engineers high-end professional audio solutions, specializing in DSP hardware and software. Symetrix products are distributed worldwide, and designed and manufactured in the U.S. at the Seattle area headquarters. Since 1976, customers have enjoyed the benefits of Symetrix’ independent ownership and management. For more information on Symetrix professional audio products, please visit www.symetrix.co or call +1 (425) 778-7728.

DANLEY UPS THE SPLS ON ITS SH SERIES OF SYNERGY HORNS

GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA: Not content to rest on its laurels, Danley Sound Labs announces improvements to many of its already highly-regarded SH-Series full-range loudspeakers. The new versions are identified by the suffix “HO,” which stands for “high output.” For example, the if one wishes to get the most performance out of the Danley SH-96 they should order the Danley SH-96 HO. The new designs use a more powerful two-way high frequency. As a result, the low- and mid-frequency drivers can now be driven to their full potential while still maintaining Danley’s characteristic frequency response, phase response, and fidelity. In conjunction, the new designs use a new crossover and have additional options for bi-amping and for changing the low-frequency impedance. Because the cabinets themselves haven’t changed, the new versions retain the coverage and frequency loss patterns of the originals. The new models include the SH-95 HO, SH-96 HO, SH-64 HO

“The original versions can be easily modified to become the new ‘High Output’ versions,” explained Ivan Beaver, lead engineer at Danley Sound Labs. “It just takes the new high frequency driver, a new crossover, and a new switch panel.” In addition, the midrange drivers are also wired a little differently, which is incorporated as part of the new crossover wiring harness. “There are two options on the new switch panel,” said Beaver. “First, there’s a biamp/passive switch. In passive mode, the new cabinets run pretty much like the old versions, except that the mid/high section will be relatively louder than the woofers, assuming the woofers are running at 8ohms.”

He continued, “And that’s the second option. Users can select a woofer impedance of either 2ohms or 8ohms. Some people do not like to run at 2ohms, whereas others may need the additional output when using smaller amplifiers. The wire run should also be considered when choosing the impedance. With a 2ohm load there will be more loss across the wire. How much loss will depend on the size of the wire and the length of the run. An 8ohm load will have a higher damping factor than a 2ohm load, and it is of course easier to bridge an amp into an 8ohm load than into a 2ohm load.” In biamp mode, the mid/high section takes the crossover circuitry and the low section thus has no built-in crossover.

Because the new switch panel cannot be expected to operate reliably if left exposed to the elements, weatherized versions of the new High Output loudspeakers must be pre-ordered with specified biamping and impedance settings.

ABOUT DANLEY SOUND LABS Danley Sound Labs is the exclusive home of Tom Danley, one of the most innovative loudspeaker designers in the industry today and recognized worldwide as a pioneer for “outside the box” thinking in professional audio technology. www.danleysoundlabs.com

The Who Reign O’er Quadrophenia With DiGiCo

The Who‘s 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia—which sets the tale of teen Jimmy Cooper amidst the global sociocultural upheaval and psychological angst of the times and the rivalry between Britain’s mods and rockers—has been reprised in a multimedia display on the band’s latest outing. The 37 date tour, which began in November and runs through the end of February, celebrates the four-decade anniversary of the album’s release and marks the band’s first major North American tour in four years. Even long-departed drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle make cameo appearances, joining remaining original members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. Entwistle’s virtuosity and famous bass solo on “5:15″ are showcased in live footage shot at the Royal Albert Hall in 2000, which streams onscreen. They also pay tribute to the late Keith Moon; their performance of “Bell Boy” incorporates video footage of a 1974 performance, with Moon’s vocals dubbed in from the LP (one of the only times in Who history his vocals were heard on an album).

The Quadrophenia tour also reunites the band with production partners Eighth Day Sound, who have worked with the iconic rockers on their last three major tours. This time out they’re carrying a pair of DiGiCo SD7 desks (each running the latest MACH III software) for FOH and band monitors, plus an SD-Rack at FOH and a d&b audiotechnik J-Series PA. The audio crew is comprised of longtime Who FOH engineer Robert Collins, Simon Higgs on monitors with support from Eighth Day’s Senior Audio Engineer Mark Brnich, and sound techs Drew Marbar and Carl Popek. [Pictured: Popek, Marbar, Collins, Higgs and Brnich.]

Collins started with the band in the late 1990s-early 2000s, and has also worked with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend on their solo projects, trading tours with engineer Paul Ramsey in between tours with Eric Clapton and others. “Paul used to look after me; he was my systems tech on The Who. I made sure the team was put in place, you know, ‘cause an English band should have an English engineer—or British, I should say. I’m Welsh, though. So here I am back. They wanted to get me back for this, and luckily it worked out timing-wise with the schedule. It’s worked out with Eric so I can go do that as well this year.”

A relative newcomer to the SD7, Collins is certainly no stranger to DiGiCo (he’s an early D5 adopter and part of the DiGiCo family). Collins says he wouldn’t part with his trusty D5 until this tour. “She’s been really good to me. Y’know? Obviously, I’ve grown up with the D5, so I was like, ‘I’ll just stay on my D5, thank you very much.’ I wasn’t ready to go to the SD7 until I knew we had the new racks… and honestly I couldn’t justify going to an SD7 working with a four-piece (like Clapton) playing blues and such, you know? I mean, that thing can run a small country, can’t it?! But for this tour, it seemed like it was time.”

Right out of the gate, he was floored by the SD7’s sonics. “It just sounds great, doesn’t it? And the biggest thing for me personally with digital desks is, I’m old-school. I come from the old analog school. I feel like I’m a part of the band. I learned the music. I’m into the music. I do the music. I know what everybody plays, what everybody does. That’s my thing. I’m not into the technical side. I just want a bass drum to sound like a bass drum. I want the piano to sound like a piano. And if you don’t get a feeling off a desk… I find that this console is musical. I feel musical on it. I feel as if I’m doing something on it. Not to mention any names, but there are other digital desks and I don’t get anything out of them. It’s like working a laptop, for God’s sake! That’s one thing about all the boys at DiGiCo: they came from the old school. They knew what we wanted. They spoke to engineers. But they didn’t just speak to them like every other company; they listened to them.

“I think DiGiCo consoles are the best out there. What you can do with this one is way beyond me. I don’t need to go down that line. Don’t tell James [Gordon, DiGiCo’s managing director], but I’m still not using Snapshots! I still do it all myself; I like to do it myself. I want to be part of it. I want to switch the guitar on when it’s supposed to be on. I feel part of it, and that’s what I want to feel. I don’t think in the digital domain.”

Monitor engineer Simon Higgs presides over the other SD7 at stage left, managing approximately 112 inputs for IEMs and such for the nine-piece band. He’s also a veteran Who member, starting in ’98 with Townshend on his Lifehouse project. He’s a diehard DiGiCo engineer, having also used the consoles since their release a decade ago.

“It’s the only digital console that I really care to use and the only one I really like,” Higgs explains. “I used a D5 with the Los Angeles band Sparks when they did 21 albums in 21 shows back in 2007, and that was the first time I really used the D5 for an extended tour… 150-odd songs, all programmed in. The Who’s monitor mix was analog for a long time until it started getting bigger and bigger and we realized we had to move to digital. So we started using two D5s, but that filled up quick. We currently are using an analog console for Pete, who has his own operator, and I look after the rest of the band on the SD7.”

With nearly 112 channels of odds and sods, Higgs says he has a lot going on managing the band’s in-ears, a few random wedges around the stage and submixing stems for Townshend’s mix. “My desk is pretty full; 112 channels and they’re pretty much filled up. A lot of outputs. I’ve still got some floor monitors up there. I’m mixing down to the analog console as well, which is just a 16-channel desk, so I’ll mix all the drums, drum floor monitors, drum sub, floor shakers [drum thumpers] under his seat…”

Having everyone on in-ears has made his job a bit easier. “Roger decided that in order for The Who to work again, he had to get used to in-ears… he couldn’t have a half-dozen wedges all around him like he used to. So he’s gone through the whole process of getting used to in-ears. They’re all on Jerry Harveys, and that’s really enabled the band to work again. Pete’s still got conventional fill monitors; he’s got four around him, just split up, one doing vocal, a stereo pair doing something else, and there’ll be acoustic guitar in the wedge, and then a monitor behind him that has sound effects for ‘Quadrophenia’ or the loops that are in ‘Who Are You’ and ‘Baba O’Riley.’”

For effects, he’s primarily using what’s in the console, save a few outboard pieces, including a Lexicon PCM 60 for the snare drum, and a Bricasti M7 reverb for Roger’s vocal that he says “is absolutely amazing.”

‘Amazing’ is often the tone of reviews streaming in from critics and fans, not only heralding the show but also the durability of both Townshend and Daltrey. Their “My Generation” anthem notwithstanding (”I hope I die before I get old”), the founding members did just that (both are now in their late ‘60s) and if the Quadrophenia tour is any indication, they still have a lot of rockin’ left to go. As for engineer Robert Collins, it’s a full-circle homecoming of sorts, having grown up on their music.

“I got a good memory on me,” he laughs. “It’s very short. But The Who have been part of my musical thing. Them, the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks—that’s what I grew up on. In fact, I was pissed off at them, actually. As a teen, I queued up in the top rank in Swansea in Wales to see The Who, and they didn’t fucking turn up! I was pissed off. They had a fight or something. This was the ‘60s. But it’s kind of funny… Who’d have thought that when I was growing up trying to play in little bands and not very good, listening to all these great singers, that I’d end up engineering for many of them?”

DiGiCo Takes Top Honors At GRAMMY® & Academy Awards

UK manufacturer DiGiCo held the coveted position as console provider for the second year in a row at the annual GRAMMY® Awards this year. The 55th installment of “Music’s Biggest Night” was overall a bigger show musically, with 20 acts on the schedule, up from 2012′s 18. As the show’s live performances have expanded, so has its audio footprint. With audio production facilitated by ATK AudioTek (and consoles provided by Hi-Tech Audio), the digital desk count handing both music and production included five DiGiCo SD Series desks: four SD7s (an upgrade from last year’s SD10s) and the addition of an SD5, as well as 11 SD Racks (up from last year’s six).

At the MusiCares event the Friday night preceding the GRAMMYs, engineer George Squires manned a DiGiCo SD7 with four DigiRacks at monitors to provide 170 inputs to 28 stereo ear mixes and 30 wedge mixes. Delicate Productions handled the audio production. On the 85th installation of the prestigious Academy Awards, ATK provided audio production with a Peterson-designed system comprised of three SD Racks, an SD5 at FOH helmed by Pat Baltzel and an SD10 run by Mike Parker. Hi-Tech Audio provided console support for all these events.

The GRAMMY and Oscar systems were both designed by ATK’s FOH Tech Jeff Peterson. On the GRAMMY event, Peterson also served as the system tech with assistance from Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher. The GRAMMY audio team again included consultant Ron Reaves mixing all of the live performance elements at FOH on an SD7, and ATK’s VP of Special Events Mikael Stewart on an SD5 managing all the nonmusical production assets. At stage right (“A”) and left (“B”), respectively, Tom Pesa and Mike Parker facilitated artist monitor mixes using a pair of SD7s (with an additional “guest” rig used for sets by Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars). [Pictured LtoR: ATK FOH Tech Jeff Peterson; Leslie Anne Jones, The Recording Academy®, Producers & Engineers Wing®; Production Mixer Mikael Stewart, ATK; Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher, Audio Consultant; FOH music mixer Ron Reaves (seated).]

“Overall, we have a massive total of 276 mic preamps and 176 outputs distributed between five consoles and 11 DiGiCo SD Racks,” explains Peterson. “Those four consoles, plus eight SD Racks, are on one optical loop, each connected to one of ATK’s 56-pair splitters. The guest monitor SD7 console is on its own optical loop, with three more SD racks. Also new is JBL’s newest line array, the Pro VTX V25 3-way system (powered by Crown ITech 1200 HD amps).

“In addition, we have more than 50 wireless microphones this year,” he adds, “which take up an entire splitter. We have almost an entire splitter dedicated to what we call high-level items, which are things like playback from the truck, Pro Tools lines, all of the production elements, and the podium mics (that are not for use with a band) are down the fourth splitter. The first two splitters are dedicated just for band inputs, one for stage right and one for stage left. This year we’re using AES outputs directly from SD racks in three locations to drive the amplifiers to the PA system. So it’s a whole digital system path again. What we eliminated was a second optical loop just to do the amplifiers. So everything is on one optical loop, with the SD Racks and the consoles.”

The transformer splits themselves are where the copper stops, Peterson explains, and are the dividing line between the live PA side with the DiGiCo SD racks and the trucks. From the ATK splitters, the signals go on to all of the different head amps: one to the two recording M3/Music Mix Mobile trucks, one to the main Denali broadcast truck, and one to the head amps for the DiGiCo consoles. “From there, it’s all various flavors of fiber, whether it’s Optocore to us or MADI to the M3 truck, or Hydra to the Denali. Once it leaves the transformer split, it’s pre-amped and converted to digital from there on. So the inputs come from the stage and then they are split up and sent to multiple destinations. The broadcast truck gets all of the raw microphones the same way we do. They do their mix, package it together with the broadcast items, the show elements and the production elements and send it out for broadcast. They also generate a lot of signals that we take out here: all of the videotaped packages, all of the music play-ons and play-offs, any band’s Pro Tools backing tracks—all of those are generated and routed from the truck through another splitter system to the rest of our consoles.”

“The SD system worked flawlessly,” sums up FOH production mixer Mikael Stewart. “The flexibility of the SD5 and SD7 are exactly what is needed for a show like the GRAMMY Awards.”

“I have continued my love affair with the DiGiCo console,” adds Ron Reaves, “having done quite a few gigs this last year on both the SD10 and the SD7. We started using these last year, and decided that this is all we wanted to use moving forward. This year, both monitor mixers switched from SD10s to SD7s, and that worked out great. The SD7 continues to be the best tool for my particular job at the GRAMMYs, and helped contribute to another great-sounding show out at FOH. I’ve particularly enjoyed the new dynamics package, and feel that between the new de-essers, and the dynamic EQ (a gift from the sound gods), that there’s no vocal ‘problem’ that can’t be tamed with this console. I’ve enjoyed some of the best vocal sounds I’ve ever gotten, too, thanks to this console.

“This year, there was a bit of extra pressure put on us at FOH to get mixes together faster in soundcheck,” Ron continues. “The demand has grown to have the first pass of a song be as close to the full band sound as possible and the console has helped me to accomplish this with the use of presets. I use a lot of presets and pre-dial pretty much everything so I’m never starting from scratch when we start rehearsing a band. That’s been a very helpful tool to have. The addition of the “presentation performances,” where a performer does a song and then introduces another performer, was also tricky and another place where the console excelled. I wrote separate snapshots in order to switch between these segments instantaneously and that worked great. For example, Hunter Hayes performed out on that dish stage in the middle of audience. When he finished, he immediately introduced Carrie Underwood—and bang, snapshot change. The console did what we hoped it would do with no glitches in the audio. In the time it took the audience to applaud, the console had already switched and we were ready to rock on the next act. It was really cool. That was a great example of how quickly this console can switch snapshots and turn on a dime.”

After two years of working on a DiGiCo SD10, the process of building snapshots was made much easier for engineer Tom Pesa, who handled the inner monitor workings on an SD7 this year on the A-Stage at stage right. “It begins with a strong template,” he explains, “a snapshot that is laid out to accommodate anything that comes down the pike with 10 A-stage acts to soundcheck. The common functionality between the DiGiCo platforms means that session structuring, labeling, grouping, building macros, etc., is all very familiar. I had only two days to dive into my SD7 on-site and plan a basic template based on the volumes of band info. Each act provided input lists, band plots, monitor layouts and in-ear requirements. Once my fellow monitor crew created the plan on monitor wedge quantities and in-ear assignments, I added that info to the input list to create the snapshot for that band. Each act is so different when it comes to instrumentation, microphone type, mono mixes and stereo mixes, but the ability to truly customize each snapshot with every parameter being specific to that act means that almost any request can be satisfied. If time permits I try and get ahead of the game by focusing on individual processing for each input, high-passing, EQ and compression as well as FX presets and mix content. The availability of powerful processing onboard the SD7, including the dynamic EQ and multiband compression, allows me to keep things well contained and sonically tight, which is important, especially when creating smooth, coherent in-ear mixes. There is no doubt how good the dynamic range is with the new generation of DiGiCo consoles. I knew how good mixes sounded on SD10 and the SD7 continues this experience for me, just on a much larger and customizable platform.

“Once again this year at GRAMMYs, the entire FOH and monitor consoles were on an Optocore loop utilizing shared head amps. Monitors were in charge of band input gain and FOH was in charge of RF vocal and production mics as well as Pro Tools inputs. We have worked hard the last two years to create a system of trust when trimming each other’s gain while soundchecking, and it has worked well. Once everyone is happy with where the individual inputs of gain are, we switch to digital trim and can fine-tune our own inputs and not affect anyone else. This whole symbiotic relationship of all the mixers at the GRAMMY Awards is why session saving, snapshot updating and recall scope is so important, and all of us have done well in making sure everything is as it should be through soundchecks, dress rehearsal and show. All in all, the use of the DiGiCo systems at GRAMMYs continues to be a leap forward in how everyone’s mixes sound and the sheer utility of how they create those mixes.”

“Honestly, no other console is touching what DiGiCo can do right now,” declares Peterson, who, since last year’s GRAMMYs, has also worked extensively on SD5s and SD7s for a host of award and music shows, from the Oscars to The X Factor. “You can’t network the other consoles the way you can the DiGiCos, so there’s really no other game in town. On shows like these, half the engineers coming in that we work with are jealous that they don’t have a DiGiCo, and the other half come in and are thankful that we’re using them now.”

Photographs courtesy of The Recording Academy®/Wireimage.com © 2013.

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