Mar 25, 2008

Touring & Corporate

Soundcraft Bolsters The Sound Of Thunder

--There's a big sound coming out of the "Motor City" these days, and it's emanating from the Detroit-area headquarters of Thunder Audio, which was first established in the late '70s by Owner Tony Villarreal thanks to a wisely-invested $1,500 income tax refund. Today, some 30 years later, this regional-turned-international touring sound reinforcement company counts top acts like Garbage, White Stripes, Metallica and Steely Dan on its roster of regular clients, a testimony to the high quality of its engineering team and equipment.

In its efforts to compete for larger, more technically demanding tours, Thunder Audio has undertaken a concerted multi-year campaign to upgrade its gear--an initiative that recently found the touring company adding its first Soundcraft Vi6™ to its stock of digital consoles.

Thunder Audio VP Paul Owen is very sure of what he likes and what works for touring, having served as Metallica's monitor engineer for well over two decades now. "In this day and age, you have to be diverse to attract a wider range of clients yet still accommodate your current ones," says Owen. "As we continue to grow at Thunder Audio and the digital world takes over from analog, we increase our inventory according to demand, performance and popularity. Adding the Soundcraft Vi6 to our selection of digital consoles seemed the way to go. The format of the console is very user-friendly and the eight-engine Lexicon package gives you an unbelievable selection of great sounding effects to choose from."

Considering that new equipment choices can often have a very real effect on a touring company's bottom line, Owen notes that Thunder Audio's purchase of the Soundcraft digital console was not made lightly. "We first looked at the console about a year ago and, at that point, it was still quite new and not appearing on many riders or being seen on tours yet. However, as we've observed, a year can certainly make a big difference in the development of a console and its profile. So we have now invested in the Vi6, which we feel is a great addition to our present stock, and fully expect that it will deliver a significant return on our investment."

Soundcraft USA National Sales Manager Tom Der largely attributes the surging popularity of the Soundcraft Vi Series™ to its intuitive ease of use--something digital consoles are not traditionally known for. "The elegant Vistonics II™ touchscreen interface of the Vi Series greatly appeals to touring companies because it doesn't require the use of a mouse or keyboard. Every feature on the console can be immediately accessed by a push of a button or turn of a knob. It's very analog-like in that sense and provides a very short learning curve, allowing band engineers to become comfortable in hours rather than days. Over the past few months, we have also made several new updates available--including a Copy & Paste function and Offline Editor--and with these now in place we expect an even more rapid uptake of Vi Series consoles in touring company inventories."

But none of this would mean anything if the desks did not measure up in terms of audio quality. "The Vi Series sounds extremely good," adds Der. "Obviously, every manufacturer claims that about their consoles, but we've had a surprising number of people comment on how great it sounds--and many of the users who made these comments have just come off years of using large analog desks that they literally loved!"

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