Jun 02, 2004



--Fox’s smash hit American Idol has once again weeded through a pack of young pop star hopefuls to zero in on the big finale of its third season. As to be expected of a show with live performance at its heart, the studio’s sound system was top-notch, right down to the 40-channel Soundcraft MH4 console used to mix monitors and house sound.

For the second consecutive year, Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher was in charge of the live mix at CBS Television City in Hollywood where the event was filmed. He notes that he hand-picked the desk from the inventory of ATK AudioTek, the show’s live sound equipment provider, primarily for its comprehensive routing and control capabilities.

“The MH4’s matrix and VCAs were very big parts of my decision to use the console,” says Fletch. “I had actually mixed the previous season on a pair of digital mixers with no VCAs or matrix, which was difficult at best given the large number of outputs and mixes that a show like this requires, so I was much happier this time through.”

For the sake of consistency and fairness, performance music was still automated through a digital sidecar mixer before feeding into the MH4 and out to the stage wedges and PA. All other aspects of the room’s audio reinforcement, however, were handled by the Soundcraft board.

“With up to 38 RF channels on the show, as well as numerous hard-wired mics and playback devices, I used all but four input channels on the MH4,” he says. “And there was a ton of stuff being routed around; every single output on the desk was utilized. We had left and right PA speakers, three front-fill zones, and subs for the 560-seat room, three monitor zones on stage for the performers, mix-minus monitor sends for host Ryan Seacrest and the judges, backup broadcast feeds, and a bunch of other sends here and there. Thankfully, the MH4 allowed me to get all of the auxiliaries onto a matrix and adequately take care of everything.”

Fletch also added that he appreciated the sound of the console’s mic pres and EQ, as well as the large number of available input channels. “And, of course, with the MH4 being blue, it fit right in with the color scheme of the show as well!” he jokes.

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