Oct 22, 2007

Music Venues

New Soundcraft Vi4™ The Toast Of Sound Expressions

--What do Washington, DC’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Sound Expressions, a sound reinforcement rental company on the opposite side of the country, have in common? Interestingly enough, both recently took delivery of, respectively, the first and second Soundcraft Vi4 digital live sound consoles sold in North America.

Santa Rosa-based Sound Expressions is a full-service operation providing sound system rental, instruction, cartage, engineering and consultation. “Our new Vi4 system was first used in early September for the 11th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival,” reveals staff engineer Ian Riggle. “The organizer had laid on a reception with two stages that featured a number of entertainers and musical acts, including a 12-member swing band. The Vi4 handled all of these complex mixing duties with flying colors.”

According to company principal Arleen Nakamura, Sound Expressions provides sound rentals to a number of local wineries, in addition to the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance. “We are a service-oriented business that provides sound systems for a number of promotional events,” she points out. “Because the mixing location needs to be as invisible as possible at such events, we were looking for a digital console with a small physical footprint. The Vi4 is a perfect solution; it is well built, small, and comes complete with a lightweight digital snake that can be connected very easily to the stage area. And, best of all, the new console sounds incredible.”

Derived from the highly successful Soundcraft Vi6™ digital console, the new Soundcraft Vi4 model offers all the features and functions of its larger sibling but in a more compact configuration aimed at space-conscious applications, such as theaters, houses of worship, and other venues with limited ‘real estate’ at the front-of-house mix position.

The Soundcraft Vi4 provides access to 48 inputs via 24 physical faders, with a total of 27 output busses available for use as masters, groups, auxiliaries or matrices. The console benefits from the latest Studer SCore DSP engine as well as Soundcraft’s new Vi Series processor card offering eight custom Lexicon DSP devices and individual 30-band BSS Audio graphic EQs for all outputs.

The Vi4’s integral Vistonics™ II user interface features rotary encoders and switches built directly onto an ergonomically designed touch screen. Since both visual information and operational controls are combined within one area, complex mental mapping is eliminated, thereby streamlining workflow and enhancing the creative process. “The multiple Vistonics II screens are very easy to use; we can see everything on all channels at a glance,” Riggle considers. “Those features are a big part of the console's user friendliness. Even people new to the Vi4 can easily locate the controls they need. It’s a very quick console to learn.”

“Everything we have done with the Soundcraft Vi4 so far sounds considerably better than any analog console we have ever used,” the engineer says. “The built-in [Lexicon/BSS] processing is very useful and, because we often use distributed sound systems, the delay functions are very handy. Overall, the console is an outstanding development.”

Summarizing his reactions to the new digital live sound console, Riggle lists five key aspects: “First, it sounds incredible. Second, the 30-pound Cat-5 digital snake is far easier to run than a conventional multicore. Third, the built-in effects and EQ are very comprehensive. Fourth, the Vi4 is extremely user-friendly; anybody familiar with an analog console will be able to get sound out of the console in five minutes. And, finally, it is a great design – the Vi4 is gorgeous to look at!”

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