DiGiCo Keeps Busy Summer Schedule With CMA Fest, Luis Fonsi, Logic, Niall Horan, and More
DiGiCo audio consoles are everywhere this summer, with artists and A/V companies across the globe deployed these systems for a host of live concerts and events. Recently DiGiCo consoles have been utilized for Country Music Association’s latest CMA Fest in Nashville, Logic’s The Bobby Tarantino vs. Everybody Tour, One Direction member Niall Horan’s solo tour in the U.S., by Brazilian audiovisual company Maxi’s DNA, the iconic Moulin Rouge cabaret venue in Paris, beloved Indian arist Diljit Dosanjh’s UK tour, and Milwaukee’s massive Summerfest on the shore of Lake Michigan.
DiGiCo Mixes the Music of “Music City” for CMA Fest
Celebrating its 47th year, the Country Music Association’s latest CMA Fest drew more than 50,000 country music fans to downtown Nashville this June to experience more than 350 artists performing over four days and nights at Nissan Stadium, Riverfront Stage, Ascend Amphitheater and seven other concert sites. Although the diversity of country acts ran deep, from old-school traditionalists to the newest country-pop stars, many of them had two things in common—DiGiCo mixing consoles at the helms of both their house and monitor mixes.
Nashville-based Morris Light & Sound supplied numerous DiGiCo desks for four of this year’s stages, including four SD12—two for FOH and two for monitors—plus one SD11 production mixer at the Chevy Riverfront Stage, with all consoles connected via an Optocore fiber loop to two SD-Racks positioned on stage. This popular venue, located on the banks of the Cumberland River, hosted performances from reigning CMA “New Artist of the Year” Jon Pardi, Scotty McCreery, Lee Brice, LoCash, Frankie Ballard and dozens of others reinforced on two 16-element d&b audiotechnik J-Series line arrays and two 14-element V-Series outfill arrays.
Morris also had a DiGiCo SD5 FOH console and SD12 monitor console in place at the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater, which featured sets from Cole Swindell, Lindsay Ell, Craig Campbell, Morgan Evans, Maddie & Tae and more reinforced on a pair of 14-box d&b arrays. Three additional stages at Nashville’s Music City Center—Close Up, Spotlight and Radio Disney—featured musical sets and artist interviews mixed on Morris’ smaller DiGiCo S21 desks at both FOH and monitors.
“The GUI on all of DiGiCo’s SD-Range desks is pretty much identical, so most engineers are quite familiar and comfortable on them,” notes Morris Light & Sound Senior Audio Designer/Trainer John Mills, who spent much of CMA Fest at the Chevy Riverfront Stage. “It’s easy to grow up on a smaller tour with, say, an SD9 and learn the desk, and then when you get the opportunity to mix on a SD7, you already know how to get around. The same goes for the SD12, which practically everyone was excited to get their hands on seeing that it’s still quite new. The SD12’s layout, feel and sound are all DiGiCo, and they performed very well.”
For the Maui Jim Broadway Stage at Hard Rock Cafe, fellow local production provider DCR Nashville deployed two DiGiCo S31 desks for FOH and monitors paired with a 16-element Meyer Mina PA. The desks were connected via two D2-Racks and utilized Waves DMI cards for native integration with Waves Sound Grid Extreme. On stage, DCR fed 32 outputs from the monitor desk into the monitor D2-Rack and ran seven wedge mixes with a cue wedge plus eight stereo IEM mixes.
“We currently have six DiGiCo S31 consoles out on tours right now and our clients love them,” shares DCR Nashville General Manager John Schirmer. “With Hard Rock Cafe activating the Maui Jim Broadway Stage in the evenings, we worked with more than 70 bands over the four days of CMA Fest this year. Most of those artists were mixed by the front-of-house and monitor engineers from the Jordan Feliz tour, which carries the same console, monitor and PA package that we deployed at Hard Rock. Both of those guys were very familiar with the desks and system in general, which made for a great, seamless success. And the few other engineers that did mix on that stage were very complimentary of the deployment of the PA as well as how easy to use the S31s were. Everyone was all smiles.”
DiGiCo Gets the Job Done Quickly on Luis Fonsi Tour
As part of his mammoth Love + Dance world tour, Luis Fonsi, the Puerto Rican singer best known for the smash hit Despacito, played on home turf to an ecstatic crowd at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum of Puerto Rico in San Juan. Luis may be a fan of taking things slowly but FOH engineer Yamil Martínez has embraced how quickly he could work on a DiGiCo SD10, which was at the heart of the tour’s audio system supplied by local provider Wichie Sound Performance.
Yamil Martínez is a seasoned pro when it comes to hot Latin performances. Prior to spending the last three years as Luis’ FOH engineer, Yamil worked with the likes of Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Alex Campos, and has been a fan of DiGiCo consoles ever since he first got his hands on one.
“I have been using DiGiCo with other artists since 2011,” explains Yamil. “It was back then I first encountered an SD9 and to my surprise the adaptation process was fast enough for me to run the soundcheck and the show very easily from day one. The flow of operation was such that it didn’t feel like a first! DiGiCo has always had a reputation for sound quality, but because the SD10 is everywhere and is nowadays considered to be the new industry standard, using one allows us to be consistent.”
On the Puerto Rico leg of thetour, the SD10 was connected via Optocore to an SD-Rack loaded with 32-bit Ultimate Stadius Mic Pre-Amp cards. On the console, the eight local analogue inputs were used as outboard FX returns from a UAD system, a Kaoss Pad and two-track playback. Four local analogue outputs fed the outboard gear and distributed SMPTE timecode. The remaining four analogue outputs connected to the PA system either as the main feed or as backup. Finally, a DiGiGrid MGB connected the SD10 to the Waves SoundGrid platform via the console’s MADI ports.
Using the DiGiCo Matrix to feed the L-Acoustics PA proved especially useful on this tour, explains Yamil: “We had the option to inject external inputs directly to the matrixes, which allowed us to have guest consoles connected to the SD10 without any interference to our setup by bypassing all the Master processing we needed for the Luis Fonsi show.”
Above all, having the DiGiCo system saved Yamil one of the most precious resources on a tour; time.
“The ability to do the line check directly from the SD-Rack without listening the channel processing on the headphones made it a lot faster by avoiding having to make any changes to the channel processing before soundcheck. Another great feature is the ripple function, which allows us to make big changes to the entire session in just one step. Macros are also a great solution to speed up operation. Macros have allowed us to activate or deactivate several channels of processing all at once.
“Everything has been so intuitive that we haven’t found the need for support. If you understand the master controls and Macros on the SD10, you can operate as if you’ve known the console your whole life.”
DiGiCo SD7 Consoles Help Keep Logic Cool On The Bobby Tarantino vs. Everybody Tour
When Darcy Khan looks out over the meter bridge of the DiGiCo SD7 console he’s mixing multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated Logic’s The Bobby Tarantino vs. Everybody Tour through, he’s keeping an eye on more than the LEDs. This 33-date summer amphitheater and arena tour, which began June 8th in Boston and wends its way cross-country through major North American shed venues with PA and consoles provided by Thunder Audio Inc. has been passing through some of the summer’s hottest spots—literally.
“It was 114 degrees Fahrenheit (45 Celsius) in Phoenix when we were there,” recalls Khan, who’s also been the FOH mixer on tours for Kanye West and OutKast, and owns backline provider Stage Audio Productions in Atlanta. “It was hot!” But the SD7 wasn’t. After watching the internal temperature of previous consoles edging as high as 118 (48C)—and watching global temperatures inching up over the last several years—Khan decided not to take any chances. “In the past, we had to bring out additional fans and dry ice to keep the console temperatures in check. The SD7 has never gotten above 107 degrees (42C). It’s never overheated, never had a failure.”
And the SD7 has another feature that Khan finds critical during summer tours now: two processing engines, A and B, that are mirrored, so any failure is immediately and seamlessly picked up by the second engine. “First and foremost, I need reliable redundancy,” he says. “And the SD7 has that.”
Khan is also a fan of the SD7’s feature set. For instance, the desk’s multiband compressor: “Sometimes Logic cups the mic, sometimes he doesn’t, and I never know when, so the multiband compressor lets me keep up with him and keep the vocal level smooth,” he explains. Khan also commends the DiGiTube tube-emulator feature, available on every SD7 channel and buss thanks to Stealth Core 2 processing.
But Khan saves his biggest accolades for the SD7’s sonics. “What I love best is that I can run the console at 96 kHz,” he says. “The clarity of the vocal is incredible, and it’s consistent throughout the frequency range. I have the bottom down to 40 Hz through 32 subs, and plenty of low-mid and high-mid, and all of it is crystal clear. Intelligibility is at a hundred percent, from top to bottom. That’s an extreme challenge for a console, and the SD7 handles it easily.”
Meanwhile, in monitor world, Dane Tarmann, who is on his seventh tour with Logic, is also running an SD7, not only managing the IEMs onstage but also using the SD7 as part of the intercom network, coordinating a dozen talkback microphones that keep the artist, the musicians and the crew interlinked on the production radios.
“It’s a way of working that I think is becoming more common in monitor world, because it really facilitates communications before and during the shows,” he explains. “What makes that possible, and what makes the SD7 such a great monitor console, is the flexibility of its workflow. Having the two fader banks on the center tile is very helpful—I’m constantly moving between mixes and that lets me leave the VCA mix where I want it and just use the busses on top. I also do a lot of subgrouping of inputs before they hit the monitors, and the SD7 gives me a lot of flexibility for that, too. In fact, it’s why I use the SD7 in the first place—no other console gives me that kind of flexibility.”
The SD7’s twin engines haven’t failed Tarmann either, but he says he does periodically switch between them, to make sure that the consoles aren’t the source of any workflow glitches. “We have a lot of laptops running during the shows, so there are a lot of points where problems can happen, and the ability to switch engines is a great trouble-shooting capability,” he says.
Contemporary live shows can seem remarkably sparse onstage—Logic tours with just two keyboard players and a DJ spread across a large, video-lit stage that seems barely able to contain the artist’s kinetic energy. The reality is that between multiple backing tracks that are time-coded (as is the lighting and video, which rely heavily on Avolites Ai media-server software) but that also have to turn on a dime as Logic leads the show, there’s an enormous amount of I/O to manage. That’s where the SD7 shines. “Easy to understand, easy to use, and very flexible,” says Tarmann. “That’s why we use it.”
DiGiCo Points Niall Horan in the Right Direction
One Direction were one of the UK’s biggest pop exports in over 50 years. They even broke The Beatles’ record, notching no less than five top 10 debuts on America’s Hot 100 chart. Now, more than two years into the band’s hiatus, 1D member Niall Horan’s solo career has also gone global: he signed with Capitol Records in 2016, and his 2017 debut album, Flicker, hit the number one spot in the US and Ireland, and made the top three in Australia and the UK. Now, he is in the midst of a major US tour, where live engineers, Joe Harling and Daniel Kent, are using DiGiCo consoles, provided by UK rental company Wigwam Hire, to create their mixes.
“I have always favoured front of house mixing,” says FOH engineer, Joe Harling. “I don’t have the technical chops, or strength of character, to do monitors… I’d probably end up crying if I did!”
As with any engineer at this level, the working relationship with the artist is crucial – and Harling cites Horan as fantastic to work with.
“He does take an interest in the sound, he has very good ears, and is able to express himself very well,” says Harling. “He expects things to be right, but also sees the bigger picture, and is totally calm around technical problems.”
Harling and monitor engineer, Daniel Kent, both work from DiGiCo SD10s, running at 48kHz, and sharing stage racks.
“It was agreed with production that this was an acceptable price point and weight allowance for freighting control around the world; and the SD10 does absolutely everything we need,” Harling explains. “I have mainly worked with DiGiCo over the last few years, as I have mostly been mixing pop music, and DiGiCo is pretty ubiquitous in this genre.”
Harling is quite hands-on with his mixing, and while he does use Snapshots, very few parameters are in the scope for most channels.
“This gig isn’t very channel intensive,” he confirms. “I think we have about 56 inputs from stage, spread across mono and stereo channels; and, of course, there are some FX returns on top of that.
I use a couple of reverbs, and a delay; and I am running Waves externally on a Mac Mini via a DiGiGrid MGB, and I’m using quite a lot of plugins for some different flavours of compression, some dynamic EQ for problem fixing, and a few FX.”
Monitor engineer, Daniel Kent, says it has been a pleasure to work with an artist as talented and focused as Horan.
“For a young artist, he has played to more people than most bands might do over a long career; he understands why rooms sound different day to day, and is very good at articulating what he needs,” says Kent. “He is not overly technical in his description, but interpreting his requests is my job. When he first said ‘there are some haunting frequencies in here’, I was a little taken aback!”
Kent has been a DiGiCo user since 2010, and has been very satisfied so far with both the quality of product, and the manufacturer’s technical support.
“For this tour, due to weight constraints, we are both running SD10s, and they sound great. Also, knowing that I can pick up the phone and get an honest answer from technical support at any time is the icing on the cake, and why I will stick with DiGiCo for the foreseeable future. On the seldom occasions I have had issues with my desk, the support has been fantastic.”
Like Harling, Kent is also hands-on with his mixing.
“No two gigs are the same; I run a Snapshot or two for each song, but I’m not utilising timecode for this tour,” he says. “I mix Niall from the master buss and have my hands on the VCAs for him for the whole show, so the band’s needs are mostly taken care of via the Snapshots. I have a couple of Macros to help me out and I also use the notes feature on the desk. The channel count soon adds up when you take into account talkback mics, FX returns, etc, so I am probably running around 96 input paths.”
It is a pretty serious sized tour, but is all working out very well, Kent concludes:
“Seven months is a long stint, especially for a UK-based solo artist, and we’re playing a wide variety of venues, which keeps me on my toes – especially as we have a daily battle with a very enthusiastic audience. But it’s always great when a plan comes together, and everyone walks off stage with a smile on their face!”
Maxi Goes Small in Size but Delivers Big with First DiGiCo SD12 in Brazil
Market-leading technology and innovation is part of Brazilian audiovisual company Maxi’s DNA, its aim being to always keep a step ahead of its competitors. With this in mind, in 2012 Maxi purchased the first DiGiCo SD10 in Brazil, kicking off its association with the British manufacturer. Its most recent DiGiCo purchase is an SD12, another first for the Brazilian market.
“In 2012, DiGiCo was already dominant in the world market, but still had very few users in Brazil,” says Maxi’s Executive Director, José Augusto Martins. “We believed the brand had the same innovative and modern appeal that we have and intend to maintain, which is why we made the original investment. We’ve now added the SD12 because it’s a console that has all the great features from the previous DiGiCo consoles, but in a more compact package. I thought this was a brilliant combination.”
And for Maxi, size definitely matters. “We can use the SD12 anywhere from corporate events to concerts, you name it,” José continues. The quality is excellent, it’s quick and easy to use and the two screens make it an ideal monitor console. The new LED meters guarantee faster operation, and the built-in recording interface makes life easier during sound-checks. And, most importantly, our clients love it.”
Providing training is part of Maxi’s ongoing commitment to its staff and customers, with the company able to provide a dedicated training area in its warehouse, where manufactures can offer free courses, not just for the Maxi team, but for freelance technicians.
“We really believe in enabling and developing people,” says José. “The more trained technicians we have that can operate the DiGiCo consoles, the better it is.”
With 25 years of experience in the special events market and a large up-to-date inventory of equipment, Maxi is used to providing solutions for both domestic and international clients.
“As a member of the AValliance, we are required to offer leading brands in audio, lighting and LED, which are all operated by a highly trained, bilingual team,” concludes José. “Having DiGiCo SD consoles available underlines our commitment to fulfilling our obligations, but more than that, it means we are certain we are providing our clients with the best mixing consoles on the market.”
Rhinestones and Sequins for DiGiCo S21 at Moulin Rouge
Situated at the foot of the Montmartre Butte in Paris’s infamous Pigalle district, the iconic cabaret venue that is the Moulin Rouge has invested in two DiGiCo S21s, purchased through DiGiCo’s French distributor, DV2, bringing the audio system at the iconic cabaret venue bang up to date.
It was on October 6, 1889 that the birthplace of the modern can-can opened its doors, revealing its chic interior, gigantic dance floor and picturesque garden resplendent with a huge statue of an elephant. In its early days, the Moulin Rouge was frequented by artists, including Toulouse-Lautrec whose posters and paintings helped to quickly secure international fame for the venue.
Over a century later, in the spring of 2018, Paris-based sales and installation company, Synoptic Broadcast, provided the S21s – one as the main console and one as a backup – at the request of Moulin Rouge sound engineer, Bruno Ravary, who wanted to replace the existing desks with a compact format console that would fit into the amount of space available.
“I decided to change to DiGiCo simply because I went to a concert where a friend was using an SD10 and I liked the sound,” explains Bruno. “But we’ve also worked with and SD9 and SD11 for the recording of a TV Show, so we are familiar with the brand and for me there is no comparison with other product in terms of quality, size and price.”
Used for the Féerie, a show that features a troupe of 80 artists, including 60 Doriss Girls who wear 1000 traditional costumes of feathers, rhinestones and sequins, the S21 uses around 25 inputs and 15 outputs, and is plugged in to an Andiamo audio interface running in MADI.
“It’s a real pleasure to work on a S21,” Bruno continues. “We can work quickly and easily. It’s also great to have a DiGiCo UB MADI for when we want to do recordings.”
But what has really struck Bruno is the notable improvement in sound rendering.
“From the instant we listened to the system we noticed a better sound quality; an incredible dynamic, a perfect definition,” he concludes. “The engineers using the console came to ask us what we had done and we said, ‘we just changed the consoles!”
DiGiCo SD5 the Ideal Choice for Diljit Dosanjh UK tour
One of India’s best loved artists, Diljit Dosanjh, paid a visit to the UK earlier this year, playing sell out arena shows in Birmingham, London and Leeds. His Front of House engineer, Fali Damania, chose a DiGiCo SD5 to mix the shows, provided by audio rental company, Delta, a choice that was duplicated at the monitor position.
“We specify either an SD10 or SD5 for Diljit’s shows,” he says. “I find the layout of both to be extremely functional and the workflow of all DiGiCo consoles makes any show, large or small, a breeze to set up and execute. In this instance, the show isn’t so big; we’re running about 48 inputs at FOH and the monitor console has around 16 Stereo Mixes.”
The system included two SD-Racks and both consoles are running 96Khz sampling rate, providing the best experience for the artist, the musicians and audience.
“The functionality and sonic quality of the SD5 are top notch,” says Fali. “I like to think of the console surface as a blank slate. You can set it up any way you wish and change fader/bank assignments on the fly. And sonically the console is brilliant.”
Fali handles all processing EQ and dynamics on the console itself and doesn’t find the need for any external effects.
“I run Snapshots for all the songs, mostly EQ changes, bringing up solo instruments and pans on backing vocals,” he adds. “We didn’t have much prep time for this run of shows, so I made Snapshots on the fly during the first show, multitrack recorded the first show, and fine-tuned the snapshots before the second show.”
Fali reports that the consoles were perfect throughout the tour and that the team and Mr. Dosanjh himself were very happy with the results.
DiGiCo Desks Shine at Milwaukee’s Massive Summerfest
It was hot and rained for two of the days, but the latest edition of Summerfest, Milwaukee’s massive music festival on the shore of Lake Michigan, again proved why it’s been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “world’s largest music festival.” This year’s event, which took place June 27 through July 8 at Henry W. Maier Festival Park, drew an official count of 766,192 ticketholders who came to see an incredibly broad range of artists—including Halsey, James Taylor, Florida Georgia Line, Dave Matthews Band, Jason Isbell, Journey, Arcade Fire, and more than 800 other artists—play over 1,000 performances on the festival grounds’ dozen stages.
Those concertgoers enjoyed great music pumped through world-class PA systems from rider-ready brands L-Acoustics and JBL, with literally all of it mixed through the world’s leading front-of-house and monitor live-sound consoles, the SD-Range of desks from DiGiCo. An SD or S-Series console was positioned at all 12 of the event’s stages for its entire 11-day run, provided through Clearwing Productions, the longtime sound-reinforcement provider for Summerfest, and through DiGiCo’s US distributor, Group One Limited, which also had an SD10 console set up in a demo tent backstage for artists and mix engineers to check out.
On the seven largest stages, the festival featured two SD5 consoles at FOH positions, two SD10 desks used for FOH and one for monitors, two SD12 consoles for FOH and four for monitors, one SD9 each for FOH and monitors, and one SD8 for monitors, while five smaller S21 provided the combined FOH/monitor mix for the smaller stages. Clearwing additionally deployed an SD12 for Halsey’s performance at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, and an SD11 as a production desk on the Harley Davidson Roadhouse stage.
“There were also many other DiGiCo consoles at the 25,000-capacity American Family Insurance Amphitheater—the ones that the artists brought as part of their tour sound systems,” notes Jeff Schauer, Clearwing’s audio operations manager for company’s Milwaukee office. “DiGiCo has been the exclusive provider of audio consoles for Summerfest for the past four years, and has been part of the event for twice as long. Not only has the sound been awesome, but DiGiCo’s service and staff have been outstanding. When we talk to the engineers who staff the stages, they all tell us that the SD desks are a pleasure to work with. Their interface is intuitive and easy to pick up, so any mixer can move from one stage to another, from FOH to monitors, and immediately be at home on the work surface. Combine that with great features and great sound and that’s what you need to make a huge event like this happen without a hitch.”