Dec 22, 2009

Touring & Corporate

Soundcraft Vi6s in 96-channel mode for Wella International

--Sound Technology Ltd, distributor of Soundcraft in the UK and ROI, are pleased to announce two Soundcraft Vi6 digital consoles were used to mix Wella International's Trend Vision Awards, a major corporate event hosted in Berlin.

Berlin’s iconic Tempelhof Airport, which ceased operating in 2008, played host to this year’s event. Jack Morton Worldwide was appointed by Procter & Gamble to produce the fast-paced event, now in its seventh year, and they in turn recruited David Brown of dB Audio to design the sound systems in the entrance hall, the main show hall and a subsidiary hall to host an all-star cast including the Blue Man Group and a performance by headliner Sophie Ellis Bextor.

This brought the curtain down on an event attended by an international audience of around 2,000, which saw competitors from more than 60 countries fighting it out for the titles of Young Talent and Colour Category and the unveiling of the Trend Vision trends for 2010.

“Because it was a very rock ‘n’ roll event, operating at a fast pace, it needed large PA and cutting-edge control,” said David Brown. “Jack Morton had worked with SSE Audio on other projects and I needed a lot of PA, so we decided on them as sound supplier. They’re an excellent company.”

The West Midlands based rental company fielded no fewer than 166 loudspeakers in the different locations, and central to the system design at the business end was a pair of Soundcraft Vi6 digital consoles.

“I’m a huge fan of the Vi6 — it’s just one of the best digital boards on the market, a real engineer’s desk,” he said. “It’s hugely accessible in terms of ergonomics, totally transparent, and reliability is rock solid with the Studer Vistonics II technology - it’s a top quality product. The combination of the excellent control surface and optical core system makes for a huge upshift in sound quality overall.”

SSE supplied two Vi6’s — a 96-input board (using the new v3.0 software’s channel expansion facility) for all radio mics and live acts, and a standard 64 channel support desk for playback mixing, supported by a 360 Systems Instant Replay HD machine for fast on-the-fly updates and transfers. SSE also provided crew to babysit the desks.

With an Optocore optical core system running the 140 metres distance between the desk and the racks, David Brown himself mixed the sound from the main Vi6 matrix, importing the playback sound from sound engineer John Scott on the second desk on two faders. “It was the perfect solution,” he said. “and of course digital all the way through with AES transfer between the two desks.”

In spite of the large space, David Brown was grateful for the small control footprint of the two Vi6’s, operating side by side, which required no outboard racks. “Everything you need is on the board. Anyone should be able to do a decent job with the eight Lexicon FX engines, which deliver pristine quality — these are first class algorithms.”

Describing the show as a “high energy, all action” event, he said a fast response desk was essential. “There’s a lot of live action, staging and dance sequences, aerialists, DJ’s, VJ’s — it’s a busy show. Sound wise, its an aircraft hangar, what can I say — even with audience in you still had a reverb time approaching 10 seconds. You can try and fight the acoustic all you want, better to work with it and use it — it’s a big room and its got a big sound so get the speech intelligibility sorted and then make the most of the space.

“All in all it was a pretty challenging environment, and being in show mode for the best part of 14 hours makes for a long day.”

The main show hall comprised a catwalk, an end-on stage and a circular satellite stage — which was used for the evening party after the catwalk had been removed to leave two separate stages. The second hall comprised four stages, one in each corner, with live cutting / styling demonstrations on each one.

With so many loudspeaker clusters at his disposal, David Brown was able to initiate some inspired multi-channel sound effects — using all 32 outputs on the main Vi6 desk to create an immersive sound field. “In fact we used everything the board had to offer. There were 16 discrete sends driving 16 different sources so we weren’t working from a template — flexibility was key, and it was a case of building the design into the desk as I went along.

“We had multichannel SFX sequences, and moving the sounds around the sources with the Vi6 created real movement, very effective. I like to do immersive style soundtracks in big rooms — you’re always further from the source so you can build a perception of less directional sound and a more seamless soundfield, and of course it’s particularly effective with multiple sources.”

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