Gand Concert Sound of Glenview, Illinois recently added a DiGiCo SD8—their first DiGiCo purchase—to their roster of digital consoles. Established in 1977, Gand Concert Sound was created to meet the growing demand for large-scale music performances on a regional level. Colleges and local festivals provided a jumping off point, and by the early '80s, GCS had expanded into facilitating national tours. Under the stewardship of senior engineer Gary Gand—a music industry veteran of 40+ years—GCS is regarded as one of the Midwest's longest operating sound system providers.
It was GCS Vice President Tim Swan who suggested the SD8 to Gand. "As you know, our industry is rider-centric," he explained. "The market tells those of us who are willing to listen, what they want. VP Tim Swan has been running the day to day operations at GCS for over 25 years and recommended that I take a look at the SD8. We have a large stable of analog and digital consoles from all the top companies already, but Tim started seeing the DiGiCo SD8 appearing on riders as an acceptable console, as well as a first choice console, and recently, as the only choice console. That tells us that this is a console we should have, as our reputation is based on being the Midwest's 'go-to guys' for the latest technology."
On top of that, the 'buzz' was growing loud from many of their regular touring bands. "Many of the acts that GCS have worked with—who are carrying their own SD8 consoles on the road—have offered strong statements about the console: from 'best-sounding digital console' to 'best sounding console…period!' We also have a huge Nexo Geo T rig that many acts tour with, and have told us is 'the best-sounding speaker system' they've worked with. Now, in tandem with the DiGiCo SD8, it's a great-sounding total audio production package for our clientele."
"I have been following DiGiCo since they appeared on the scene and have been waiting for a product in the price/feature strata that would work for us," Gand added. "Up until now, the DiGiCo line has been aimed at only the cream of the tour industry. The SD8 breaks a price and feature barrier that addresses the bell curve of acts today, which is our main focus."
"The flexibility of the SD8 makes it a money-maker for Gand Concert Sound, as it can go out for FOH, extensive IEM mixing, onstage monitors, broadcast, and rentals to friends in the industry. Its ease of use and virtually flat learning curve make it a great product for an act or industry associate who needs the flexibility and small footprint of a digital console, but may not have the experience needed to operate some of the other popular digital consoles on the market. Its light weight and compact size is a big plus when the client is on a tight schedule and tight budget, especially when the console needs to get air-freighted to a venue."
GCS lead engineer, Adam Rosenthal, cites his favorite features exclusive to the SD8 as being the dynamic EQ and multiband compression. "These allow me to make specific problem channels sound consistent and pleasing all night. For example, I know that every guitar amp has a 'sweet spot' as far as level versus tone goes. But as a player knows, you just have to step on the gas to get over the band or to get that adrenalin flowing for a good connection to your audience. The amp might get nasty at a particular frequency just for that short time. I can smooth that out and make it not only frequency-sensitive but also amplitude-sensitive so I don't have to sit there and ride the EQ during a solo. The onboard software does it for me. This is also great for vocals as the singer's getting raspy at the end of the night or long into a tour."
While the analog sound versus digital flexibility debate still rages on today, Gand is emphatic that diehard analog engineers take notice of this console. "I think that anybody who is an 'analog guy' owes it to themselves to sit down with an SD8 for a few minutes for a test drive. Being part of the analog generation, I was knocked out with how musical the EQ and dynamics in the SD8 sound. It is very easy for anyone who can pick up email on their laptop, to get the hang of. Adam ran some old BBC TV soundtrack music through it that featured a big orchestra with a groovy 60's rock band inside and even some wacky bachelor synth tracks, and I got the best audio-file-style hi-fi sound out of a pair of big old UREI 813s. Made his iPod sound like silky vinyl, and that's really what we all want, isn't it? To smother the crispy crunch of the 21st century with gravy and take it back to when we could listen deep into a track and enjoy the sound as well as the music. Try it, you'll like it!"