DiGiCo Consoles Power Fall Out Boy Summer Tour, OKC’s NORTHchurch
This summer’s “The Boys of Zummer Tour” pairs rockers Fall Out Boy with rapper Wiz Khalifa, an alchemy that’s been drawing raves for a genres cross-pollination that Billboard called “a night of music and an opportunity to exercise its right to be young, and wild and free,” noting that the band “…came out with all guns blazing, clearly pumped… and owning the audience from the second they launched into their opener ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down.’” Adding to the excitement is crystal-clear live sound, thanks in large part to a DiGiCo SD5 FOH console, manned by Chad Olech, and a DiGiCo SD10 desk guided by Kevin Dennis for monitors.
Olech, who has mixed FOH for a wide array of major touring artists like Demi Lovato, Robin Thicke, Joe Jonas, Anthrax, Survivor and the Deftones, was new to the DiGiCo SD5 when he went to the tour SR provider Clair Global’s headquarters in Lititz, PA last fall. While there, he asked Clair to set up a shootout between half a dozen consoles, including the SD5, using the Clair i3 cabinets and CP218 subs they’d be using on the tour.
“I’ve been using another manufacturer’s console for the last seven years and it’s a great console functionally, but it often needs some help sonically,” he explains, adding that for this tour he was looking for a desk that’s operationally intuitive but also sounds amazing. The SD5 fulfilled all of those wishes. “The workflow on the SD5 fits the way I work perfectly,” he says. “I like to have everything in the same spot every time. I don’t want to have to think when I mix; I just want to mix. The SD5 lets me do exactly that.”
“For instance,” he continues. “I can have the entire EQ strip in front of me and don’t have to page through to find things. I know exactly where the knobs are; it’s muscle memory. The same goes for the compressors; everything is where I put it and where I want it.”
Olech also has good things to say about the Waves MultiRack, which hosts the dozen or so Waves plug-ins he’s using for the shows and is far fewer than he’s ever needed before. “I like having some of the Waves stuff here, and the SD5 is set up to integrate them nicely,” he says. “But the SD5 also has a four-band EQ on its inputs, and I’d bet that if I were to just use that, the audience wouldn’t notice the difference. That’s how good the console sounds.”
Monitor mixer Kevin Dennis is equally happy with the DiGiCo SD10 console he’s using. Sonically speaking, the SD10 is “completely transparent—the pre-amps, the EQ, all of it,” says Dennis, who has also mixed monitors for Green Day and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. “There’s no coloration of the sound. A band at this level works very hard to get the tone of its backline exactly right. They don’t want to hear your version of that sound. And I’m a minimalist. I only want what they want to come through back to them. The SD10 lets me do just that.”
Just as importantly, Dennis says, the SD10 has also become a communications hub for the entire operation. “We have an extensive talkback system with everyone on in-ears, including the techs, and no speakers on the stage,” he explains. “Instead of hand signals, the techs can easily get onto the comms and let me know what they need, or vice versa. It’s all matrixed through the SD10, which makes it very streamlined. And Chad’s connected to this as well since we’re using the same rack and it’s all on fiber.”
This sophisticated comms infrastructure lets the show proceed smoothly, even if bandleader Pete Wentz decides to change up the set list on the spur of the moment. “Everyone’s in the loop, through the consoles,” says Dennis. “Doing that on the fly without it would be way more difficult.”
Finally, he adds, DiGiCo’s tech support has been magnificent. “This tour is going a lot of places and I know when I call DiGiCo with a question, I’ll get an answer or a phone call back within five minutes,” he says. “The support is just top notch. They’ve covered all the bases.”
NORTHchurch Heads In The Right Direction With DiGiCo
NORTHchurch, a non-denominational contemporary church that uses the latest technology and media to communicate its message, recently installed a DiGiCo SD8 console and a pair of SD-Mini Racks interconnected by an Optocore fiber optic network. The front–of-house console system was part of a major audio system redesign at the church’s two-story location in a northern suburb of Oklahoma City together with an L-Acoustics loudspeaker system, acoustic treatment and other improvements, all provided by Skylark AV, a local audio, video and lighting equipment design, build and installation company.
“It was important to stay within the budget but also get something that is going to be reliable, move us forward, and that would be easy to grasp for our volunteers,” explains NORTHchurch’s production director, Stephen Kramer. “We are a growing church and are also considering adding a broadcast console and a monitor mixing console in the future. Looking into DiGiCo, we felt that we would have all the opportunity in the world to grow and add functions, and that it would give us everything we wanted.”
NORTHchurch’s DiGiCo SD8 supports 64 inputs and 16 outputs and is fitted with an Aviom card. “We’re running six stereo in-ears and a full Aviom set-up,” says Kramer.
Having been working on a smaller, less powerful digital mixer at the church previously, Kramer reports that he had to relearn mixing and learn new terminology once the SD8 was installed. “It was a new world to learn about ‘recall’ and ‘update,’ ‘session’ and ‘snapshot.’ The snapshots have been a game-changer. It has allowed our volunteers to come in and easily set it up, and for us to have a very consistent sound across all of our experiences.”
Those experiences—there is a service on Thursday night plus three on Sunday morning—are managed by two separate audio teams. “We have an audio guy come in on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday night, he does a soundcheck and gets a mix set with the snapshots. Another guy comes in on Sunday morning, can do a run-through with the band, and is able to reuse the snapshots that have already been built. So it has made it very easy for our volunteers.”
For example, he continues, “Our vocal effects are all snapshot based, and we have snapshots set up where our faders, mutes, and panning are being updated. When a volunteer comes in and hits Next, all of that is switching for them. They don’t have to assign effects or retype the tempo for the delay. It allows the mix engineers to be creative and flow and build dynamics, and not worry about the basic mix for the song.”
“They have absolutely fallen in love with virtual soundcheck,” comments Skylark AV’s Steele Beaty. “The complexity of the snapshot capabilities inside the DiGiCo has revolutionized how they do things. They are now taking the cues associated with the lighting and the immense control they have there and applying those principals to the audio console—and the DiGiCo lets them do that. With the aid of virtual soundcheck they are putting in the time to really hone each song and each transition like I’ve never seen a church do before.”
While doing his due diligence, Kramer compared the onboard effects processing capabilities of his top three console choices and ran the numbers. “We like to run our mix wet; we like a nice, thick, solid sound. But we would have had to spend almost the exact same amount of money to get the other options configured like the DiGiCo with its built-in effects. So we felt it was a no-brainer, and we are extremely happy with our choice.”
Kramer relied on Skylark AV for the PA speaker recommendation. “They ended up with the L-Acoustics ARCS II system—three per side, stereo hung—with four SB28s subwoofers in a central horizontal array below the stage, with six 8XTs for front fills,” says Beaty. The system is driven by one LA4 and three LA8 amplified controllers.
“I had never heard the rig before,” admits Kramer. “We have a very trusting relationship with Steele and the guys at Skylark. They’ve been part of our church for quite a while. They’ve come in and changed the way we view install companies. It’s been really important to us to have that relationship with them. We know that when they say something they either mean it or we can trust that they know what they’re talking about and they’re going to take care of us.”
Kramer is enjoying getting to grips with the new more powerful, more complex audio system. “With the combination of the DiGiCo and the L-Acoustics I literally had to relearn how to mix,” he says. “But we had a conference for students recently where we don’t get too concerned about the dB level and it was incredible—the clarity, even running at the higher volume, and the oomph from the SB28s underneath. It’s been a new lesson to learn.”
Looking to the future, says Beaty, “Their plans are to have a full-on video suite and green screen areas where they can shoot promo videos. The DiGiCo would have worked in its standard coax MADI form, but long-term, when you look at their vision, adding that fiber piece enables them to expand at will and however they need to. When they get their production spaces up and rolling we can add an SD-Rack in there, and they can do live audio mixing and get a finished product in about half the time.”