Apr 02, 2001

Touring & Corporate

PJ Harvey Opens for U2 Using Soundcraft 328 Digital

--Currently on the European leg of her world tour prior to joining U2 as their support act, Polly Harvey is one of many high-profile artists to give the traditional large-format front-of-house console the elbow in favour of a compact digital desk.

Front of house engineer Rob Coles of Tourtech PA has specified the Soundcraft Digital 328 for her shows, after extensive festival experience with the desk mixing various bands. Rob Coles gave his impressions of the console after a month of dates in Australia, including an appearance at the "Big Day Out" festival, where the 328 was surrounded at the mix position by physically much larger analogue consoles. The compact digital desk provoked a lot of interest from other engineers.

"It sounds great - it's as simple as that. The EQ is very accurate. Quite honestly, when you're standing at the mixing position driving two huge speaker stacks at a festival, the difference in sound between this console and a conventional analogue desk is negligible."

In order to handle all 28 channels hitting the console, the 328 supplied by Tourtech was equipped with two (optional) Mic / Line interface units, housed in the compressor rack.

"It just seems such a great idea. I can turn up at the mixing position with the console in one hand and the Mic/Line interface rack in the other and I'm ready to go. I can run all the inputs into the 328, and just feed a stereo pair to the main rig."

The small footprint of the console was to prove a major bonus during recent dates for PJ Harvey on a promotional tour in the USA.

"We were playing mainly small clubs, where they're more interested in selling beer than where the sound mixer goes," Coles explained, "so you face the prospect of mixing from some impossible corner or balcony. However, since the 328 is so tiny, in most cases I was actually able to negotiate a prime mixing position in the middle of the bar!"

"This was also a factor when we played theatre dates in Australia", he continues. "Since no theatre wants to take out the number of seats required to house the average console, you're usually stuck right at the back under a long balcony. But with 328, I was able to persuade them to take out three seats under the edge of the balcony and get a great mixing position right where I wanted to be. Sure enough, the engineers for the other bands ended up way behind me at the back of the room."

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