Centre Culturel Ebullition Upgrades Audio Equipment With DiGiCo for 25th Birthday Celebration
This year is Centre Culturel Ebullition’s 25th birthday and the club’s owners decided to celebrate this milestone by upgrading its audio equipment, which included investing in a DiGiCo SD12. Situated in Bulle in the south west of Switzerland, the 300-capacity live music venue is housed in a 100-year old cinema and hosts a variety of acts from rock, pop, funk and folk to ska, punk, reggae, hip-hop, and hardcore metal, as well as theatre productions and cinema.
When they decided to upgrade the club’s audio system, Vincent Sudan, the club’s technical manager, contacted Tonspur AG, DiGiCo’s Swiss distributor, because he had purchased an SD8 from them for another club he also works in.
“The club had an old analogue console and it was clear that they needed to change for a digital console,” says Tonspur’s Eddy Broquet. “Vincent already knew DiGiCo, so the choice of console manufacturer was clear and they decide that the SD12 would perfectly fit their technical requirements and their budget.”
Ebullition’s DiGiCo system consists of an SD12 with a DiGiCo Waves SoundGrid DMI Card for plugin integration, a D2-Rack on stage (48in/16out) and a SD-Mini Rack at FOH to provide enough I/O for Ebullition’s guest engineers.
“We chose a DiGiCo SD Series console for its excellent sound quality and functionally,” says Vincent. “We wanted to have the most recent console and the SD12 was the ideal choice because of its size, as we have limited space.
“We’ve had great comments about the club’s sound from engineers, our clientele and our staff since we’ve had our new system and our SD12. The sound is more accurate, warm and powerful. The service we received from Tonspur and DiGiCo was just perfect. Both companies are quick and efficient and we are very happy with our SD12.”
When ’90s boy-band icons Backstreet Boys found themselves all grown up and doing a new Las Vegas residency gig billed as Larger Than Life, stepping it up meant all-new arrangements, a new sound system centered on the DiGiCo SD-Series, and it meant a degree of control for longtime FOH engineer James McCullagh.
“When I started with them five years ago, the playback guy just gave me a left and right. And then the guys would ask for some change—say, they wanted me to boost a specific part of a song—and I would have to tell them that I did not have that degree of control,” says McCullagh. “When the Vegas gig came up, we originally talked about doing it with a band. The Boys eventually decided to go with tracks. For this show, they got their band to go back in the studio to rerecord and rearrange all their hits specifically for Vegas. We worked closely with Musical Director Keith Harris and made sure that every track was separate and unequalized.”
“Basically, we got the raw tracks as they were recorded and, as a result, we have complete control of a fully live band except that it’s all ‘in the box’ and completely digital with no conversions. Having the tracks raw really allows us to make use of the outstanding audio tools on the SD consoles to really craft the right mix for every show.”
The playback rig for Larger Than Life consists of a pair of the latest MacBook Pros, each running more than 60 tracks via Digital Performer at 24-bit/96 kHz (one is a redundant backup of the other and both run simultaneously throughout the show). Each of the Macs feeds a DiGiGrid MGO, which provides up to 64 channels over MADI at 96k. The MGOs then feed into an Optocore DD2FR-FX that converts the signal from Hi-Speed to SMUX MADI in DiGiCo format, allowing it to be seen on the DiGiCo Optical Loop as its own device. The only places where the signal goes outside of the DiGiCo loop is a Phoenix Audio Class A transformer strapped across the main mix, which gets saturated to give a bit of analog warmth and harmonics.
“We are running an SD7 at monitors and an SD5 at front of house, both supplied by Sound Image. Those are fed by two identical SD-Racks and our playback rig is all on an optical loop with shared head amps,” says McCullagh.
The system was put together for touring with a firm eye on the house-provided system at the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino’s AXIS Theater in Las Vegas. “The fact that we’re keeping everything digital and taking advantage of DiGiCo’s great Gain Tracking feature puts us in a minority,” says McCullagh. “Even when it’s DiGiCo at both house and monitors, most guys are still more comfortable using an analog split and having each engineer use the input gain on each console. And I get that. But we had some downtime between the last tour and the beginning of the residency and I helped out on some Adele shows last year and this is how they were doing things. I knew after just a couple of shows with them that I wanted to go with tracks and keep everything digital and on the same loop.”
The breakout via the DiGiGrid MGOs gives McCullagh and monitor engineer Austin Schroeder 32 analog stems via a DirectOut Andiamo, in addition to the 64 digital tracks, which serves as the emergency backup in case they end up on a gig where they are forced to run analog.
The show is using a dozen Sennheiser 9235 with 9k receivers. “They come out the receiver AES, which means all our signal is completely digital until it hits the speakers, even my reverb—a Bricasti—is connected via AES,” says McCullagh. “The only analog signal we use is for the audience mics for recording and for the IEM mixes as well as our talkback mics.”
In addition to the audio transport control offered by the DiGiCo/Optocore combo, McCullagh points to the SD consoles’ macros as a feature he counts on.
“Another simple but cool thing we are doing is sending the FOH talkback to the stage and the monitor talkback to FOH via the Opto send and receive, which eliminates the need for hard patching from the stage box. It’s little things like that—in addition to big things like the unparalleled levels of control, flexibility and sound—that have made DiGiCo’s SD-Series my first choice every time.”