DiGiCo Consoles Handle Challenges of Concerts, Cruises, and More

DiGiCo consoles can be found in two of Brazil’s hottest destinations — with an SD8 on monitors for Jamiroquai at the Credit Card hall in São Paulo and the flagship SD7 at Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Carnival — as well as in London’s West End for The Bodyguard.

Monitor engineer Dan Ungaretti has been working with Jamiroquai since early 2011, and uses a DiGiCo SD8, provided by long-term supplier Britannia Row Productions, to mix the band’s in-ear monitors.

“Jay Kay prefers wedges and has a fair few of them around the stage, so he has a separate console and engineer for them. And as there are 11 other musicians on stage, it makes sense to handle them separately,” he says. “There are 60 inputs from stage. I have some extras for the ears and rehearsals, so I’m using all 60 channels on the desk, plus I’ve snuck another couple in the back door. The entire band wears IEMs and there is a pair of wedges for the keyboard player.

“I use the SD8 because the gig fits in a nice size footprint, which is important when you have two monitor consoles to fit in. I think the SD8 has a great spec for its size and price and, despite filling the board with ins and outs, I never feel lost in its layout. And, although we generally tour with our own consoles, if we haven’t been able to take our own for some reason being able to find an SD8 everywhere we’ve been is a massive advantage.”

Dan particularly likes the power and flexibility of DiGiCo’s matrix and macros and uses them for a wide variety of things depending on the show. “I’ve also recently started using the Audio Enhancer FX which I think can be great for really opening up certain mixes,” he adds. “DiGiCo have been great and always seem to be on hand to help if I need them. I haven’t had much call for the technical support team, but the sales guys have gone beyond the call of duty in helping me track down boards in various parts of the world.”

Meanwhile, at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, Gabisom supplied an SD7 with three SD Racks, which was used as the central audio distribution hub for the audio system, along with the rest of the PA for the vast audience along the Sambodromo, as well as broadcast feeds for TV Globo.

The SD7 received feeds from each of the live audio Samba trucks from each of the school bands, which had three sets of 24 channels of analogue snakes for backup and two sets of 24 channels of digital, a total distance of 700m. As the truck moved with the Samba parade on the 700 meter long ‘Sambadromo’, engineer Marcos Possato Jr. seamlessly switched the audio from one snake to the next on the SD7, which was handling a total of 120 channels of audio. From this mix, Marcos sent out 24 channel splits for the TV broadcast, as well as the mix for the parade which was handled by Eder Moura.

The Bodyguard, playing at the West End’s Adelphi theatre and based on the 1990s Oscar nominated film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, is directed by Thea Sharrock and sees Heather Headley take Houston’s role alongside Lloyd Owen, who plays Costner’s original part. Richard Brooker, no stranger to such mammoth productions having worked on some of the industry’s biggest theatrical productions, including Jesus Christ Superstar, The Sound of Music, Chess, and Cabaret, took on the challenge of the show’s sound design. He has once again deployed a DiGiCo SD7T digital mixing console at Front of House, with an SD824 at the monitor position, to help him meet some new challenges.

“When I was approached about The Bodyguard by David Ian and Michael Harrison, the main brief was that the show needed to have filmic qualities and nods to the original movie,” says Brooker. “But the biggest responsibility for me was having all of those huge hits in the show.”

From the filmic angle, Richard’s approach was to use more surround soundscapes than he had ever done before.

“It’s good fun to do,” he says. “It adds a level of dramatic and theatrical dynamic sound-wise. I also have more warmth in the dialogue and have added a more cinematic low end to the system.”

“There’s a lot going on on stage resulting in a consequently large number of inputs for musicians, radio mics, etc. There are also quite a lot of sound effects and layered sound effects, to add the filmic quality,” Brooker explains, “It was important to me that we had enough surface area to allow us to always have the entire band up on one layer. This means that Digby [Shaw, Head of Sound], who mixes the show, can mix actively if he needs to.”

To cope with this, Richard supplemented the SD7T with a 007 extension to provide additional worksurface area. He also knows that the addition of the application specific T software provides him with all the tricks he needs.

“The dynamic EQ is standard on every channel and buss on the SD7T and is brilliant for achieving the right dynamic when the show goes from quite intimate small dialogue scenes, to songs that are full on concert scenes and are loud and rocky. To get that big, stadium concert sound in what is essentially a fairly small room, you have to ensure that there are no harsh or bitty frequencies, particularly when you’re working with someone like Heather, who has a really powerful voice. Dynamic EQ is great for that, but we are also using some tricks where we filter music down to take us ‘outside’ of the stage and then back onto the stage, which is done as a timed fade and by moving the EQ across. We also use panning, routing of surround sound effects and lots of automated stuff that works really well on the SD7T, but that I think you would struggle with on another console. We also have the added bonus of using Waves plugins on the show. This opens up an Aladdin’s cave of options for me.”