Eastern Stage Productions Applauds Versatility Of Soundcraft Vi6™
For Eastern Stage Productions (ESP), a full-service sound rental company serving the Tri-State Region around New York City, the term 'versatility' takes on a whole new meaning. There cannot be too many sound companies that handle a Presidential event one week, a major concert series on Long Island the next, and then a West Point graduation ceremony. So when the Edgewood, NY-based ESP went shopping for a digital live sound console, it looked no further than the Soundcraft Vi6. "It has a great layout," enthuses ESP Director of Operations Glenn Davis. "The Vi6 feels like an analog desk but lets you take advantage of the assignability and reset flexibility of a digital design, with all of the extra abilities to route signals in so many different directions with so many options. We are very happy with the purchase."
The Soundcraft Vi6 Digital Live Console features a unique integration of Vistonics(tm) II-based touch screens and encoders that eliminate complex mapping since the compact user surface offers a fully optimized control density. The Vi6's 32-fader user surface accommodates 64 mono inputs routing to 35 outputs--32 Group/Aux/Matrix busses plus dedicated Left, Center and Right masters--with 24 insert send/return pairs assignable to any of the I/O channels via the system's touch-screen based user interface. Outstanding sound quality is guaranteed through a combination of Soundcraft's ultra-low noise analog mic preamp designs and an advanced 40-bit floating point DSP from sibling Harman International company Studer.
ESP first used its new Soundcraft digital console to provide live sound coverage, in conjunction with a White House technical crew, at the President's visit to a Harlem charter school in late-April and Mr. Bush's address to a large crowd regarding the virtues of his "No Child Left Behind" educational program. During his visit to Harlem Village Academy Charter School, the President called on Congress to reauthorize the NCLB Act. "We must raise the bar and strengthen this law to ensure our children have the skills to compete and succeed in the global economy," he said.
"The Harlem event went off flawlessly--just like a show we did earlier this year at Roseland Ballroom using a prototype Vi6," says Davis. "We had plenty of inputs available to handle podium mic, stage mics, CD playback, and a host of other sources. The output matrix is very flexible and we were able to quickly develop a number of dedicated zone feeds. Vistonics is a brilliant user interface."
ESP's new console also includes Soundcraft's optional DSP Package, which adds Lexicon effects and BSS Audio EQ. The add-on card provides eight Mono or Stereo Effects units that may be patched to Aux Bus outputs and then back into a channel input, or inserted into input or output channels. All effects are controlled from the intuitive Vistonics II graphical displays for full control integration. The Lexicon DSP offers 14 reverb types, including various plates, halls/spring types and delays plus chorus, flanger, tremolo and pitch shift. The BSS DSP provides a 30-band graphic EQ on every output, controlled via the first 30 channel faders. Simultaneously, a composite EQ curve is generated and displayed on the Vistonics screen for that output path.
"The new DSP card is outstanding," offers ESP Principal Bill Danilczyk. "It puts graphic EQ and special effects control right into the console and replaces as many as 60 outboard boxes," plus costly cable snakes to outboard racks. "The Vi6's CAT5 interface also dramatically reduces the number of cables we need to pull at a venue and eliminates unreliable patching. We can now handle 64 inputs from the stage and 32 returns via a single CAT5 connection, which is greater than the analog system it replaced; we also run a second CAT5 cable for essential redundancy."
"I like the Vi6 layout," Danilczyk concludes. "It feels like you are mixing on a real console and not a computer. The visual interface is great and you can see 32 channel strip icons at all times. The five icons per channel offer essential channel information for 32 channels at all times. One icon per bank of eight channels can be adjusted at any time by simply touching the icon. Two people therefore can work comfortably controlling channels from different banks at the same time on the Vi6. The color coordination is really nice.
"But, for us, the ultimate feature is the Vi6's sound quality, which is totally brilliant. We have always been highly aware of sonic quality, using high-end analog boards like the Gamble EX56 exclusively for many years. This new Vi6 offers the same kind of exceptional audio performance that we have come to expect."
ESP most recently deployed its new desk to handle The US Military Academy's graduation ceremonies in late-May at West Point's Michie Stadium. "It will now be used at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay for the Long Island Summer Festival concert season as well as other high profile events during the summer," Davis states. "The concerts feature Peter Frampton, Randy Newman, They Must be Giants, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Martin Sexton, Aimee Mann, Dave Brubeck, Linda Ronstadt, Indigo Girls, Rosanne Cash and others--the majority of whose performances will be mixed on our new Soundcraft Vi6. We expect the Vi6 to quickly become the favorite tool of live sound engineers around the world."
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