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Digidesign D-Show Profile Scores 100 with the Sugababes
Two of Digidesign’s most experienced sound engineers this month became the first to pilot the newest addition to the Digidesign Venue family, the D-Show Profile console.
The compact desk, which was previewed at last month’s PLASA Show in London, was used on two special showcase product launches 24 hours apart. While Joe Campbell was working with one on monitors for Chris Rea at London’s Bush Hall, the following night across town Chris Madden was preparing for the Sugababes arena tour next spring with a media show at the 100 Club to announce the trio’s new greatest hits package — Overloaded: The Singles Collection.
Backed by a live band, the Sugababes’ 80-minute show in front of an invited audience was filmed by a video production company for a forthcoming DVD, and Madden synced the audio to video (using the Digidesign SYNC I/O), multi-tracking the set using the Pro Tools| HD rig provided by Digidesign resellers, Marquee Audio. The rig had earlier accompanied the sound engineer during production rehearsals at Black Island Studios — to great effect.
The Sugababes maintain an arduous work programme, packing in TV shows and playback PA’s when not on tour. “These shows will need recording from time to time, and having seen how easy it is with Pro Tools, the management are delighted that we’re touring with Venue,” Chris reports.
The sound engineer stated that after he had been offered the front-of-house position at the end of August, management needed little convincing about the merits of the console. “I just said ‘Don’t worry, you’ll love it’ — and they did, particularly considering the absence of loads of FX racks. And when we showed them the quality of the recordings we had made at Black Island Studios they were astounded.”
But the decision to scale down to the smaller footprint of Profile was taken due to the constraints of the 100 Club. “This show coincided with unconfirmed rumours that Profile might be available,” continued Chris. “I thought it would be a great idea if we could get it, since at just 1.1m long I knew it would be perfect.”
Aside from a 20-minute induction on the Digidesign stand at PLASA the next time Chris Madden saw Profile was when the same desk arrived at the 100 Club just before the show.
Profile is compatible with all existing Venue hardware and software and operates on the same D-Show control software and operating system. Therefore, navigating his way round the board’s ergonomics was never likely to prove difficult for an experienced Venue driver.
Playing out through HK’s compact Contour Array powered line array system, Chris Madden managed to balance the backing textures of drums, guitar and two keyboards to perfection. “As this D-Show Profile console was a preproduction unit, Digidesign staff stayed around to make sure everything worked to perfection and it did! I took the show file that I had saved from the D-Show and loaded it into Profile from my memory stick, and it recognised everything immediately.”
The girls delivered a remarkably polished performance, with the live drumming of the experienced Steve Barney adding a raw edge, enhancing classic hits like Freak Like Me, Hole in the Head and Round Round.
“But the volume of Steve’s drumming became a major worry because he’s a big hitter, and so we screened him as much as possible,” stated Madden. “Furthermore, the vocal timbres of the three girls are very different — for instance Heidi is much softer, Keisha is aggressive and Amelle is in the lower register. All three share the vocal duties — you can’t just leave them open and you have to know the set exactly. The desk helps me maintain consistency, by having the same vocal EQ, dynamics and FX for the girls — wherever we are in the world and whether it’s with D-Show or Profile.”
Madden typically recalled the FX plug-ins, changing its settings accordingly. “There’s a snapshot for each song, but there is far more NOT being recalled. We have some loops and FX coming from Hard Disk and I recall these and the onstage keyboards within a snapshot, along with the FX plug-ins.”
The sound engineer also made creative use of the Fairchild compressors plug ins, the TL Space convolution reverb — which includes impulses of some of the most famous British reverbs ever made (a hangover from his old studio days, he says). He also used AmpFarm for bass guitars, and acoustic guitar DI’s.
Thus Chris Madden was able to reflect on a highly successful debut with D-Show Profile, which was whisked away to its next assignment within 15 minutes of the final encore. “Management and everyone I spoke to were delighted with the show — and we had loads of compliments about the sound.”
D-Show Profile is expected to ship in November 2006. A complete D-Show Profile System, which includes the Profile mixing console and Venue FOH and Stage racks, will be available via authorized Digidesign dealers.
In picture: Chris Madden on Profile duty at the 100 Club.
27th October 2006
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