Bob Dylan Tours North America With Soundcraft Vi6™
With die-hard Dylan fans celebrating his current late-career renaissance, the folk legend's onward-rolling Never Ending Tour continues to delight concertgoers both familiar with and new to the artist's decades-spanning work. For the tour's most recent North American leg, which featured solo performances from the inimitable Elvis Costello as the opening act, FOH Engineer Pablo Wheeler requested a Soundcraft Vi6™ digital live sound console. Escondido, California-based Sound Image, which has been supplying PA systems for Dylan's tours for the past seven years now, was happy to oblige.
"I had used the Vi6 digital mixer last August during tour dates in New Zealand," recalls Wheeler, who has been handling FOH for Dylan for more than a decade. "So, when the time came for the North American dates, the Vi6 was my first choice. Since Sound Image had a Vi6 in its inventory, the rest fell into place. The Vi6 is ergonomically very simple to use, thanks to the Vistonics™II interface, which is one of the major selling points for the console.
"But really, it's about the sound! I like the way the Vi6 sounds. The dynamics sections, in particular, are very nice--the Soundcraft-designed console seems to have inherited a lot from its Studer ancestry. Also, the built-in Lexicon effects are quite useful." Outstanding sound quality is assured through a combination of Soundcraft ultra-low noise analog mic pre-amp designs linked to an advanced 40-bit DSP engine developed by Studer.
"I was working with 40+ input channels from Dylan's five-piece band," the FOH engineer describes. "I kept all of the major sources on the Vi6's top layer, with the second layer used for echo returns and the like. I could also remap important channels to the center of the console, much like an analog board--the Vi6 is the only digital console I have come across that incorporates a very analog-like layout."
The seasoned FOH engineer lists three primary reasons for liking the Vi6 digital live console. "First," Wheeler offers, "the desk sounds crisp and clear, particularly on drums. Second, the Vi6 offers great ergonomics and is very easy to use. And third, the EQ and dynamics section--particularly the de-esser and noise gates on each channel--is very useful."
The Vi6 control surface connects to the I/O rack and processing engine via a single fiber-optical connection. "Pablo and the sound crew preferred optical connectors over conventional CAT5 cables," recalls John Leary, the Sound Image system technician who managed the console during the North American leg of the Never Ending Tour. "The Opticore snake is more reliable and streamlines systems hookups." Leary handled pre-flight checks for the tour and was on the road with the system during the US and Canadian dates. "The Vi6 worked out very well," the engineer recalls. "We put it on the truck and it went out on the tour for the first dates in Florida. The rest is history."
(photo credit: Paparazzo Photography)
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