London's Southbank Centre is adopting a more flexible approach to digital sound mixing through its three flagship venues, the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, thanks to the acquisition of several Soundcraft Vi1 digital consoles from Richard Nowell Sound Services (RNSS).
Based at London’s Southbank Centre, the highly experienced rental company has been servicing the audio requirements of the Centre’s three premium venues for many years.
With the London Jazz Festival looming, technical director, Eddy Smith, decided that a more flexible platform was needed for incoming sound engineers than was offered by their existing digital desks. “We didn’t feel the sound of the preamps was as good as we wanted, nor were the configurations particularly user friendly--which was important when shows needed to be set up quickly.”
He asked Richard Nowell to arrange a three-desk shoot-out and the Vi1 came out on top in terms of usability and functionality.
RNSS placed an order for the Vi1’s--along with an optical MADI card for future channel capacity expansion--with his long-term supplier, Amber Sound, which has also made available a third desk for general demo purposes.
Nowell says that the support given by the Potters Bar-based suppliers was again second to none. “Amber Sound meets pretty much all our requirements and provides absolute support on every product. I can’t sing their praises highly enough.”
While one Vi1 has been permanently installed in the 500-capacity Purcell Room the second will be floating between a number of locations--from the Front Room at the Queen Elizabeth Hall to the foyers of the Royal Festival Hall. Another Vi1 is expected to be installed permanently in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the near future, with all Soundcraft components distributed in the UK/ROI by Sound Technology Ltd.
Explaining the timing of the sale, Richard Nowell commented, “In most of the halls analogue desks are still installed--but these are now getting a bit long in the tooth. The technical team’s policy is that it does not want to restrict programmers in any way and with the compact footprint of the Vi1 we can easily add this alongside the existing analogue desk, providing a lot more flexibility in what they can offer.”
This is the first time RNSS has worked with Vi1 consoles and Richard Nowell states that the desk’s footprint was just one of several primary concerns.“The desk also needed to be easily recognizable for incoming engineers — and you also want a very easy interface. Not every show is staffed by experienced sound engineers so it had to be something the engineer would not be fazed by — and the Vi1 fits the bill. It is just so much easier to get your head around.”