Soundcraft digital desks have piloted the sound mix for many leading rock bands over the years, but in the last six months they have also reinforced the speech of two world leaders.
Following the use of Soundcraft consoles during the visit to the UK of Pope Benedict XVI last summer, a Vi1 was again on duty in the Chateauroux region of France on January 20, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed more than 1,000 health workers in the gymnasium of the local hospital in Chatillon-sur-Indre.
The rental company called in to convert the gym into a full production space were Poitiers-based sound and lighting company, SLJ Sonorisation, Eclairage, Vidéo. They built a lighting structure which was rigged in the roof while the President's staff constructed the stage itself.
FOH engineer, Benoit Lasjuilliarias, confirmed that the President always favours using local service operators where possible on his regional visits throughout the country, and the gymnasium was one of several locations visited by M. Sarkozy during his trip to France's mid-west. Although they have worked for the President's office in the past, this was SLJ's first outing with the new 32-input Soundcraft Vi1.
“We purchased it on January 10th and little over a week later we were using it for the first time — with the President,” declared Benoit. “So there was quite a lot of pressure.”
He added that although the company could have chosen other digital desks in their inventory, they felt they needed a board with sufficient output capacity for TV and radio feeds. “The desk also needed to provide simplicity of use and give us a lot of onboard 30-band equalisers — which the BSS effects do. We could see that with the Vi1, Soundcraft were one step ahead of their competitors.”
SLJ first became interested in the Soundcraft Vi1 when they saw the new console with French distributors SCV at last year's Frankfurt Pro Light + Sound show.
Hugely impressed, they placed an order and SCV's Jean-FranÃ§ois (Jeff) Guillot duly provided the training. However, the learning curve had been remarkably short. “The desk was very intuitive, and even without much knowledge of digital desks you could be ready in a few minutes … the transition is very easy,” confirmed Benoit Lasjuilliarias.
This view was shared by SLJ's own theatre and corporate customers after they had attended a demo.
Over in Chatillon-sur-Indre, the Vi1 took a simple live mic feed from the President who spoke for around an hour. The signal was routed to four OB vans for TV broadcast, with four separate audio sources sent via Nagra digital recorders for the radio station and journalist feeds.
Although the President's address didn't require the desk to add any DSP cards, SLJ did take the precaution of purchasing a MADI expansion card to connect to a Vi6 stage box for future use. Benoit explained, “An associate of ours also has a Vi1 with a stage box — so now we have the possibility of being able to do a FOH and monitor mix.”
In conclusion, SLJ's sound man gave the Vi1 an unqualified seal of approval. “This is an extremely good desk — highly functional and an easy routing path. Everything is right in front of you, and you can see all the sends at a glance.”
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