DiGiCo SD10s Whip Blur into shape
The end of April saw Blur release The Magic Whip, their first album for 12 years. To celebrate, the Britpop legends played two secret shows at London’s Mode club, where a pair of DiGiCo SD10 consoles helped tame the acoustically tricky venue.
With both shows - one for friends and family, the other for 300 competition-winners - taking place at the Westbourne Park venue on the same day, monitor engineer Dave Guerin, Front of House man Matt Butcher and PA tech James ‘Kedge’ Kerridge had a very busy time. But with Dave and Matt each mixing on a DiGiCo SD10, supplied by rental company Entec Sound and Light, what could have been a very challenging event ran very smoothly.
“When we tour, there’s a balancing act between what we need and the available budget,” says Dave. “We decided on the SD10 for these shows because it’s a big enough console to do what we need, it’s physically small enough to fit in venues like this, it sounds really good - especially at 96kHz - and the rental cost isn’t too high.
“DiGiCo desks are great, I’ve been using them since the D5 V3 and we both like them. They’re user friendly and it all just works.”
Matt agrees, adding, “I love them. The control surface is fantastic, the SD-Rack sounds great, the mic preamps sound fantastic and, with everything at 96kHz, there’s so much detail in the sound.
“I love the symmetry of the SD10’s central section, and having the right and left hand sections means you can have something going on in one of the bays, leave it while you go and do something else on another bay, then come back to the first bay and it’s still there.”
For the shows at Mode, both engineers shared an SD-Rack, with its 56 inputs all in use. Dave controlled the gain levels, with Matt trimming them as required.
“Dave was attenuating his outputs because his wedges are so efficient,” says Matt. “So we ran the gains nice and hot, using all the bits on the input and it worked really well. It kept our footprint very small.”
In addition, Dave was using all the local inputs on his SD10, with Matt using a few of his for the shout system and comms.
"I am using quite a few of the AES I/Os on the console,” says Dave. “I wanted to be able to listen to the sidefills in stereo, to make sure the vocal was balanced in the middle and all the instruments were where they should be. I sent the sidefills out via AES outputs and then back into AES inputs that are then inserted on the PFL buss. There's a macro to switch the insert in and out. That way I can listen to the two mono sidefills in stereo. I don’t think you can do that on other desks.”
At Front of House, Matt was happy with the SD10 system’s ability to deliver a great mix and also run dual multitrack recordings.
“I was running 12 matrixes, three stereo pairs for the PA and two sets of recording outputs,” he says. “The SD10’s EQ sounds great and the dynamics are fantastic, there’s so much you can do with the multiband compression. The compressor and noise gate works really well, while the DiGiTubes really warm the sound up and give it a bit of grunt.
“I was using the DiGiTubes on delay returns to do some megaphone-like vocal effects, which sounded really good. The automation is very easy to use and provides a wide palette of things to play with. It is very easy to change things and customise it to your needs.”
For the recording, Matt had a laptop running Steinberg Nuendo connected to the SD10’s MADI outputs, running at 96kHz. Meanwhile, an RME MADIface routed 48kHz audio direct from the DiGiRack to a second laptop running Apple Logic as a backup.
“Overall, the entire system was simple to set up and it all worked perfectly,” he says. “The fact that the SD10 is an easy desk to use also meant we had more time in a challenging room like Mode to concentrate on distributing the PA to achieve the best sound.
“The stage sound was very clean, thanks to Dave and his SD10, which also made life easier for me. The shows were a complete success for the band and the DiGiCo system played a vital role in that.”