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46 l January 2014

livereport SOUNDBITES

Allen & HeathiLive digital mixing systems were chosen for the grand opening of the 2013 Vienna Music and Arts festival. A number of different size consoles were employed for the various acts, including a modular iDR10 MixRack with iLive-144 surface for the final of the Eurovision Young Musician’s Contest. The annual event, held in Rathaus Square, has used iLives to manage the audio for the past four years.

German cabaret act The Popolski Family are impressed with their new DPAmicrophones. So impressed, they made a video singing the praises of DPA’s German distributor, Mega Audio. The musical comedy act currently use three DPA d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones to capture their accordion and brass sections. Sound engineer and CEO, Hans Wollrath, praises the “virtually unbreakable” microphones, hailing them perfect for touring and TV appearances. Watch the video at XSULqLUcc

Jessie J and her crew have been using Sennheiser mics for both lead and backing vocals on her recent Alive tour. The star uses a combination of Sennheiser 5200 transmitters with MD 5235 capsules; eight in total, two of which are gold-plated for her use alone. “We use this mic combination because the 5235 is, quite simply, the best sounding capsule and the receivers are great,” says Andy ‘Baggy’ Robinson, monitor engineer. “Jessie was already using this mic when I joined the tour, but we then upgraded the backing vocals, and it makes a perceptible difference.”

Mixing engineer, Gerard Albo, whose credits extend from Amy Winehouse to the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, chose the new AvidS3L for the current Madeleine Peyroux UK tour. Peyroux’s voice has carried her from busking on the streets of Paris to mainstream recognition. The tour venues included a sell- out concert at the Royal Festival Hall for the last night of the London Jazz Festival.


Tinsel Concerto

Phil Ward uncovers a lavish Christmas Spectacular with all the RF trimmings

TUCKED AWAY in deepest Norfolk, the collection of mechanical organs and steam engines in converted farm buildings at Thursford is a mini institution. It’s a grand day out in summer, but in winter the whole space is devoted to a seven-week run of the Christmas Spectacular, during which a sprinkle of the West End descends upon the venue to play to packed and loyal audiences who regard it as something of a treasured secret. The colours are bright and pastel, like a cross between an ’80s pop video and a seaside postcard. The programme is a safe blend of popular classics, Christmas hits, chorus girls and fridge-magnet philosophy, and the audio is superb: easily matching any revue in the West End or on Broadway. Sound designer and FOH engineer Steve Brodie is responsible, now 21 years into his role here as sonic curator which he combines with the versatile services of Brodie AMS, a provider of audio for broadcast, multimedia and events. “John Cushing, the producer, has been fantastically supportive of the ongoing development of

The Shure wireless collection Bring on the dancing girls!

the production, including the sound system,” Brodie reveals, adding that the sustained commercial success of the show has enabled regular and rewarding investment in the kit. “There’s no set budget,” he continues, “and it tends to be artistically driven: it may be that we want more head mics, or a tweak to the system where we’ve identified an area for improvement.” This year, for example, a further eight channels of Shure’s UHF-R wireless microphone system have been added to the existing inventory, taking the channel count up to a rare 64. “We started head-mic’ing about 10 years ago,” Brodie explains,

“before which it was all done with handhelds and overheads. Then we got a Yamaha PM5D front-of-house desk and two DSP5D racks, taking us up to 148 input channels, and at that point I felt that we needed greater reinforcement.” Brodie’s solution was to mic up the string section individually, giving them parity with the singers and the band. “But then the woodwind section needed to keep up,” says Brodie, “so the following year we radio mic’d them up too.” Some of the channels are what

Brodie describes as ‘legacy’ channels from the digital switchover, which doesn’t seem to have arrested development at all, and as of this year the brass section is also on radio mics – courtesy of those eight extra channels of UHF-R. The capsules, however, are by DPA Microphones. “I was a fairly early adopter in the UK,” Brodie says, “and they’ve kept me on as a ‘practitioner’ account with UK distributor Sound Network. The d:vote 4099 is rapidly becoming one of my favourite instrument microphones. “With the woodwind section in particular, we have to mount

the mics in all sorts of peculiar ways because they’re not typical instruments for radio mic’ing. A combination of 4060s and 4099s works well, and in general the show is very mobile: the sections move around the set, just as the choir moves right through the audience.” This is a spectacular overture to the show, as the choir infiltrates the auditorium from behind the audience. Using the delays and surrounds, the audio moves with them from rear to stage front – fully manually, it turns out, as the automated crossfade on the PM5D is capped at one minute, and it takes one and a half minutes for the choir to complete the entrance. With the RF landscaped

entirely by Shure, as well as the DPA mics there are Shure Microflex overheads and a collection of Shure UR2 handhelds for the poppier sequences when some Jersey Boys-style mic stand posturing is de rigueur. The vocal headsets feature DPA 4066 capsules connected to Shure UR1-M transmitter packs, and Brodie uses Shure’s Wireless Workbench 6 software to co-ordinate the frequencies. The presence in technical support of Tom Coleman, applications engineer at Shure Distribution UK, reveals the high status of this production among the many on his agenda. “Shure wireless gets used on many applications on a daily basis,” he says, “but there aren’t many shows in the UK with a channel count this high. Every instrument is mic’d, there’s a huge vocal cast of around 50 – with 26 mics

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