May 21, 2008

Touring & Corporate

JHL's Soundcraft Vi6™ Joins The Cast For Jools

--Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, North London-based John Henry’s Ltd has constantly kept its equipment inventory at the cutting edge — whether it be backline or monitoring. And Henry’s takes pride in being able to respond immediately to musicians’ rider requirements — irrespective of how outlandish they may be.

Specialising in primetime TV productions and artist showcases, late last year JHL purchased its first Soundcraft Vi6™ digital console to mark the new BBC series of Strictly Come Dancing. The purchase was recommended by JHL’s General Manager (and Head of Audio) Robert Harding, who explained, “To mix at least 40 personal in-ears — plus the floor sound, VT and voiceovers — a large channel capacity was required. We had 54 channels going into the console and we were using 20 of the outputs.”

It proved so successful that it’s now incorporated it into the regular control and PA package on the new series of Later... With Jools Holland (BBC 2) — which now incorporates a live-to-air show, broadcast on Tuesday evening, as well as the regular show that airs on Friday.

While Harding also project manages Later..., it is JHL’s Aden Gregory who has started operating the Vi6 on the show. The experienced sound engineer has a long history working on Later..., stating, “We started doing this show back in 1992, and we did The Late Show [its predecessor] before that.”

The Vi6 first successfully trialled on another live-to-air show [Dance X] — and in front of a team of seasoned sound engineers in the JHL warehouse. Aden describes the sound quality and ease of use as “fantastic”, adding “... it doesn’t feel like you’re using a digital desk — it works more like an analogue board so you can get through everything really quickly.

And with 35 mixes and a graphic EQ on every channel it’s brilliant for monitors, he says. The copy and paste function is excellent and you can use multiple stage boxes, which is great.”

The Vi6 is additionally used to mix the sound feed for the studio audience on Later Live. And because the show is live to air — with no opportunity to retake — the desk has to be super-reliable... another reason for Robert Harding recommending the original investment.

With six acts working in rotation — using four separate sound stages in the BBC’s TC1 studio — production space is at a premium, and Aden Gregory says the reduced footprint of the Vi6 is essential. A further advantage is the fibre optic interface, which allows a run of up to 1.5 kilometres between the stagebox and the local rack.

Finally, he notes that the Vi6 uses the patented Vistonics II™ touch-screen user interface developed with Soundcraft’s sister company Studer — and with one of the BBC’s Studer’s Vista 8 digital consoles mixing in the BBC’s control room upstairs there is a guaranteed smooth workflow.

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