DiGiCo Powers Streisand, Cirque du Soleil, Sydney Theater Company

It’s been a busy year at DiGiCo as the company continues to provide audio console solutions for huge concerts and events throughout the world, including Barbra Streisand’s Barclay’s Center concert, Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson show, and the Sydney Theater Company.

Barbra Streisand’s performances have been few and far between and the beginning of her 2012 Back To Brooklyn tour marked only her 82nd performance in a six-decade career.

Sound designer/FOH mixer Chris Carlton designed a new system worthy of Streisand for the tour that would improve on previous technical models while streamlining and advancing the technology. Jackson had worked with DiGiCo consoles at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. With a team of 12 engineers on deck, the updated system was comprised of six consoles in five mix locations: FOH (Carlton on an SD7 with Kevin Gilpatric on an SD7-EX007 expander), artist monitors (SD7 run by Ian Newton), band monitors (SD10; Blake Suib), orchestra mix stems (SD10; Steve Colby), and David Reitsaz on a Avid Icon in the M3 Music Mix Mobile truck.

What made the setup so distinct was that all FOH, monitor and broadcast recording engineers shared the 170+ inputs, generated from one central SD system rack—comprised of four DiGiCo SD Racks—and linked solely by a DiGiCo/Optocore 2GHz fiber optics network running at 96kHz. On some dates including Brooklyn, they used broadcast recording feeds into a Brainstorm DCD-8 that could receive Burst or Word Clock, and the DiGiCo system would sync off of that.  In addition, the SD Rack’s third MADI port handled live down-conversion from the 96kHz to 48kHz, which fed to both the mobile truck as well as to a backup redundant recording system located in the orchestra mix room.

Cirque du Soleil: Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL
After spending more than a year touring North America, Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour has finally touched down in Europe.

After a run of nine shows at London’s O2 Arena, this production, which fuses the King of Pop’s greatest hits and Cirque’s trademark acrobatic prowess, will then head into Europe for an extensive six-month stint, returning to the UK again in March 2013 for several shows in Manchester and Birmingham. For the whole tour, two DiGiCo SD7s are in control of everything audio at both FOH and monitor positions respectively.

“This isn’t a typical monitoring position, but it’s great, as I am in the perfect place to see the stage and the people,” smiles monitor engineer, Renato Petruzziello, whose SD7 is positioned on the upper tier of London’s O2, looking down on the stage, and boasting a panoramic view of the arena. “I use the SD7’s video screen to keep an even closer eye on the band, too. I split it into four sections, with a focus on the key musicians; I can always tell if there’s something not quite right going on by the faces they pull – it’s a really neat function!”

Petruzziello is running 140 channels from the console: 80 for the live band, 48 for sequencing tracks, and the rest are utilised for various comms channels. All 11 in-ear mixes are sent to the band members in stereo, and he also creates separate stereo mixes for the Digital Performer operator, four backliners and pyro operator, mime act and two tap dancers in the show, as well as the side-fills.

“Another feature I really like using on the SD7 is the recall and duration time on snapshots, whereby I have the console on a timer; all I need to do is hit the first snapshot and then it rolls through all of the snapshots in the list with this function enabled,” he says. “It’s great for me because it means I don’t need to be hands-on; I can be doing other things like listening to the mixes and making sure the band are getting what they need, without having to worry about changing the snapshots. It makes life easier for all parties.”

FOH engineer, Martin Paré, utilises 166 inputs on his SD7 and has an SD Rack at FOH position to accommodate his favourite bits of analogue outboard. Channel count and the ability to run everything in 96k resolution are two major advantages in using DiGiCo, he says.

“When we were doing the concept of the show, we ended up with 448 I/O and didn’t have enough room on the console we were originally thinking of using. Here, I have two racks, Ray has two, and there are a further three that we share; I don’t think there’s another manufacturer out there that can accommodate those kind of numbers,” Pare insists. “And in terms of quality of sound, what’s coming out of those pre-amps is pretty amazing. You don’t have to do too much to make it sound great – just plug it in, and away you go. For this show, it’s all about the I/O and the amount of cards you can have in every rack, and the SD7 does the job absolutely perfectly.”

Sydney Theater Company
Sydney Theatre Company’s new bar, aptly named ‘The Bar at the End of the Wharf’, is a hot spot for Sydney’s inner city crowds in the know. As the name neatly implies, the bar is found at the end of the Wharf just past the Wharf 1 Theatre. It is now the proud owner of a new DiGiCo SD9 console.

With the 500+ capacity bar now being an extension of STC’s operations it is capable of hosting any number of acts and performances such as opening nights, season launches, media calls and monthly live gigs.

When the time came to choose the front of house console that could be utilised in both the bar and the Wharf 2 theatre STC’s Head of Sound, Ben Lightowlers, was quick to go with DiGiCo, based on his prior experiences with the two SD8 consoles in use at Sydney Theatre. With both the SD9 and SD8 featuring the same audio processing and software interface, users could move back and forth between the venues with confidence.

“When the console first arrived, the Bar was still under construction. I seized the opportunity to take the SD9 with me in my capacity as operator for our touring production Bloodland, which was travelling to Adelaide Festival Centre and QPAC in Brisbane, so I could see how it stood up on the road,” says Lightowlers. “Putting the SD9 up for use in Theatre mode really gave me the chance to embrace its full capabilities. It seems to be common practice that you’ll end up using all the available outputs, so it is handy to be able to tailor the number of Busses and Auxiliaries when setting up the board.”

With the SD9 capable of 48 stereo channels (96 channels total) as well as the ability to create up to 16 stereo busses in addition to the LCR Master buss; any number of different setups can be accommodated. That is in addition to the true theatre style matrix.

“Choosing the DiGiCo SD9 for this venue was rather easy,” adds Lightowlers. “I was already familiar with DiGiCo’s  versatility as we had just upgraded the 850-seat Sydney Theatre across the road with two SD8s, so I couldn’t wait for an excuse to buy one for the bar. Having the SD9 set up in this room also offers my crew more opportunity to train up on the DiGiCo console.”