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DiGiCo rocks with Kasabian on summer festival circuit

DiGiCo rocks with Kasabian on summer festival circuit

As Kasabian embarks on the 2015 summer festival season – with two warm up shows at Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg and Groningen’s De Oosterpoort in The Netherlands, at Belgium’s massive Rock Werchter festival and then headlining multiple festivals across Europe – front of house engineer Paul Ramsay and monitor engineer Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Sargeant explain why DiGiCo’s SD7 is their console of choice.

“We’re not taking any PA on this run, just FOH control and monitor system,” explains Paul Ramsay, who has been working with the English rock band since the end of 2011. “But due to distances between some of the shows we’re carrying two separate, but identical, systems (A and B), so we can physically get the equipment to all the shows.”

Paul’s SD7 system is equipped with two Waves extreme servers running Waves plugins. “I have a Lake LM44 for system EQ with a wireless tablet and Waves BCL hardware unit over the master buss,” he says. “Other than this I’m using no external outboard. I use the internal SD Gates, Compressors, Effects and Waves plugins as required.”

Paul has mixed on DiGiCo consoles since the beginning of 2003, starting on the company’s first offering, the D5 Live. He has used DiGiCo consoles ever since.

“The DiGiCo control surface is by the far the best out there, hands down,” he says. “You can pretty much do whatever you want with the SD7 and it will make it work. With the newer SD Racks running at 96K, the audio signal has also stepped up another level; it sounds stunning and adding Waves plugins for some different flavours is excellent.”

Paul uses one full SD Rack of inputs, with 56 channels from stage, around ten stereo effects engines and a few playback stems, giving approximately 90 inputs in total. For outputs he takes AES feeds into his Lake LM44 for PA inputs, but also has some stems for sub mixes for the broadcast truck.

“I have at least one Snapshot per song, with a few having two for when there’s a major change required,” he continues. “The Snapshots scope is fairly basic, doing faders, mutes and effects changes song to song – for this show I don’t require anything more detailed, but this alone puts me in the right place for the start of every song and then I fine-tune on a daily basis.”

Paul carries out a virtual sound check every day using a DiGiGrid MGB, both with near fields, to tidy up Snapshots, work on songs and in the PA itself in the morning as the band are not able to do sound checks at any of the festivals.

“To be able to hear last night’s mix and walk the field in the morning is essential for us to know how the PA responds,” he explains. “Also, with Snapshots – although I’m not using them to full capacity - just being able to hit one button and change ten different effects units for the next song, with all my parameters correct, is great. I also use Macros a lot; with one button press I’m able to change a whole host of things that I couldn’t do on the fly, but I can nail it every night with Macros, which are an excellent invention.”

At monitors, Rabbit is new boy to the Kasabian fold, having started working with them at the beginning of this year.

Why the SD7s? “Because they rock!,” laughs Rabbit. “They’ve got so many inputs and outputs, they’re very versatile and I feel they’re the best, most user friendly desk out there; they’re designed by engineers, not geeky designers. I love them.

“As a monitor engineer I need to get around things quickly and confidently and, ideally, not take my eyes off the band. I feel that I can do that with the SD7 because I can custom build any of my fader banks, inputs and outputs – in fact, everything.

“I’ve set up a number of banks for the individual musicians. This means I can hit their mix and it’s ready for me. After having spent time with the band for the past few months, I pretty much know what they’re going to ask for, or what areas I need to concentrate on in certain songs. That means I was able to start to build Snapshots before the beginning of the run – the SD7 has got great Snapshot capabilities – and develop them, along with Macros, to use for each song.”

Like Paul, Rabbit’s outboard rig is almost non-existent. “Everything is on the SD7,” he says. “It’s got great EQ and Multiband Compression and that’s really all I need for monitors. I don’t need any outboard other than a TC D2 and that’s simply because [guitarist and vocalist] Sergio [Pizzomo] particularly likes it.

“To give myself a fighting chance, I run virtual soundcheck to tune and balance the festival sidefills – as Paul said, we don’t have any rehearsals. I’m also using an iPad running the DiGiCo SD App to EQ whilst away from the desk.

Rabbit’s set-up is, he says: “A simple system that is compact and bijou. I try to fit everything under the desk, then I have the SD Rack as well. I have a total of 56 inputs and 32 outputs as a general rule, but for a lot of the headline shows we also have a four-piece string section, which will add to that. I could have had a smaller console, but I have dual redundancy backup here. It’s all about not messing up really, isn’t it.”

And what of the human element of backup? “My system tech Adam Smith is the best in the world,” Paul concludes. “If budget allowed, I’d take him everywhere with us. When we are on our normal shows, we tour an L-Acoustics K1 system and he makes it sound stunning, and at festivals he is someone I can trust as another set of ears to walk the field.

“And from back in 2003, they guys at DiGiCo have always been a phone call away, whatever the time of day is. They can usually talk me through any issues or, if needed, have a replacement part to me the next day, with a technician if required.

“In reality, I rarely have to call them other than when I want to pop to DiGiCo HQ to program a new show file, but I know that backup is always there when required – like the day someone threw a beer into the console; the very next day I had a new fader bank and one of their techs was at the gig. And that is priceless.”

17th August 2015

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