CCP's Soundcraft Digital Breakthrough in Portugal
Portuguese Harman Pro distributors Custodio Cardoso Pereira SA (CCP) report a huge take-up of Soundcraft Vi6’s among the country’s leading rental companies.
In recent months three premier technical production houses — Décibel, Strong and CLS Audiovisuals — have all made major investments in Soundcraft’s digital platform. And João Azevedo, CCP’s Commercial Manager believes there is more to follow.
“There is a confidence now in the Soundcraft Vi6™ to a point where it is starting to appear on tour riders. It has passed all the technical tests and we can provide new firmware and software updates to customers immediately we receive it.”
The Vi6’s continuing appearance at major festivals has been a major factor. “It gives sound engineers the opportunity to get hands on for the first time and experience the ease of using the Vistonics II™ GUI.”
The first company to invest was Porto-based Décibel. Rui Soares, who set up the company in 1992, confirms that both their new Vi6’s are permanently out on duty.
Aside from providing technical production for Porto’s extravagantly-designed Casa da Musica (House of Music), the company also services a number of festivals, including Festival Músicas do Mundo, Sines, where Human League were recently mixed on a Vi6.
“Because they wanted a good quality desk with a lot of channels [to mix the National Orchestra of Portugal] the Vi6 helped us to close the business at House of Music,” reports Soares, who also has two Soundcraft Series 5 analogue desks in his inventory. “We chose the Soundcraft because the sound was better than the others we auditioned and the price was competitive. We closed the deal with CCP as soon as we tested it.”
Rui’s appreciation is supported by Décibel technicians José Monteiro and Fernando Rodrigues. “I like the ergonomics,” said the former. “With Soundcraft desks it is impossible to touch buttons you don’t want — in fact I can operate the new Vi6 with my back to the mixer, blindfold. The Vi6 continues to achieve the same quality as their analogue boards did.”
And Rodrigues adds, “The Vi6 sounds good, the interface couldn’t be easier, the graphics are excellent — and there are no words to describe the Lexicon FX! Normally outboard processors would be expensive but here you just load up the desk and there is no problem.”
The company with the largest Soundcraft digital inventory, however, is Strong, based in Tondela.
General Manager, Teixera de Matos, has a wealth of experience stretching back 27 years and he set up Strong six years ago.
The company made its entry into the digital world by simultaneously purchasing a pair of Soundcraft Vi6’s and a Vi4 simultaneously — providing cover for both the FOH and monitor positions. Strong already had plenty of experience with Soundcraft’s analogue Viennas and Series 5’s in their rental fleet over the years.
“The Vi6 is not only intuitive and user-friendly, with all the functionality onboard, but it is also fast; everything is in front of you on the monitor, whereas with other brands you are constantly scrolling through all the pages.”
By the time the consoles were delivered all the technical team could also use the virtual mixer, which they had downloaded from the internet. “It’s a very good first approach,” Teixera believes. The compact form factor of the Vi4 is also important for Strong’s growing number of theatre shows — where seats are at a premium —and he has also found his transportation costs reducing considerably.
Strong’s technical manager, João Paulo Martins, recently piloting one of the company’s Vi6’s on the Just Girls tour, highlights further attributes. “Having the EQ on every output is useful as is the ability to link functions on the output graphics. The offline editor is very easy to use, and the ability to swap desks is fantastic — for instance if we are working with one of CCP’s loan Vi6’s we can simply plug our show files straight into the USB port of the CCP board.”
Not all the Vi6 purchasers are live tour sound companies however. CLS Audiovisuals are essentially a broadcast company and although based in Lisbon they also work in Spain, Angola, Dubai and Qatar.
A 50/50 partnership between parent company Mediapro — one of the biggest broadcast companies in Europe — and Nuno Duarte, Andre Senos and Carlos Lima, the company is equally at home in the world of OB trucks and broadcast studios as it is on a live FOH platform.
CLS first stepped up to digital for broadcast duties during the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. “But we had been looking for a digital solution for small and studio PA because we handle entertainment shows for TV,” said Duarte. “In the end it came down to a choice of two desks — but we chose Soundcraft based on its user-friendly surface and a sound that was close to analogue. Anyone can use the Vi6, and for its sheer simplicity it is a good solution.”
In fact a network is fast developing in Portugal among Vi6 users and Puro Audio’s Antonio Monteiro recently sub-hired CLS’s Vi6 for the major Super Bock Super Rock 2008 Festival in Lisbon and Porto, attended by 60,000 people — providing further exposure to sound engineers.
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