Historic Olympia Theatre Takes Digital Leap With Soundcraft Vi6™

Originally built in the late-’20s, Montreal’s landmark Olympia Theatre recently underwent a renovation project and technical facilities update that simultaneously took the “grand dame” of the city’s theatre scene both back in time and squarely into the 21st century. As part of the plan, local sound and lighting provider Kloda Focus Group was called upon to supply the venue with a new PA system, which now benefits from a Soundcraft Vi6™ digital live sound console feeding Crown-powered JBL VerTec arrays.

“For a digital console, the Soundcraft Vi6 has a shallow learning curve and is very easy to use, which is a great advantage for visiting engineers,” offers Mathieu Guilbault, who serves as front-of-house mixer for the theatre and co-designed the new system. “The console’s EQ and dynamics sections also sound great. I’m very happy with the choice we made.”

Olympia Theatre’s remarkable building combines the modern with the classic and features retro chandeliers, carved wooden medallions, and plaster-cast moldings. With two floors and a seating capacity of 1,370 patrons—up to 2,800 for standing audiences – Olympia Theatre hosts a wide variety of musical and related events ranging from hip-hop, electronic, punk and rock to gospel choirs, jazz, plays and conferences.

The venue’s new sound system was installed as a cooperative project between Guilbault and Kloda Focus Group’s chief of sound, Bill Kinal. “We were looking for a state-of-the-art solution,” Kinal recalls, “and eventually decided on an all-Harman system that would incorporate as much all-digital technology as possible to ensure the highest sound quality.”

The Soundcraft Vi6 digital live sound console features 32 on-surface faders and 64 mix channels routing to 35 output busses (32 group/aux/matrix busses, plus the main LCR busses) with 24 insert send/return pairs assignable to any of the input or output channels. The system comprises a compact control surface, a local rack that houses the SCore Live processing engine, and a stage box that connects to the local rack via Cat-5/7 cable. (A fiber-optic interface is available as an option.)

“We love the sound of Soundcraft’s ultra-low-noise mic amps and the high-power digital processing,” Guilbault offers. The Studer-developed SCore Live engine features advanced 40-bit floating-point DSP elements that ensure ultra-precision signal processing.

“The two-layer control surface, with 32 faders flipping between upper and lower configurations, is perfect,” the designer and FOH mixer continues. “We can also handle a combination of analog and digital sources, routing to a very flexible array of group and auxiliary outputs, and/or the main stereo busses.

“The Vistonics™ II user interface provides rotary controls and switches right on the touch screen. Everything is visible and accessible all the time; you just reach for the function you need. Each signal path offers high- and low-pass pass filters, a powerful, sweet-sounding four-band parametric EQ section, compressor, limiter, gate, de-esser, pan and more. It is an amazingly flexible design.”

Outputs from the Soundcraft Vi6 console connect digitally to a pair of dbx DriveRack 4800s that enable system delay, equalization and 8-in/16-out signal distribution to Crown I-Tech 4000 and XTi 1000 amplifiers powering the loudspeaker cabinets.

An analog Soundcraft MH3 40-channel/12-auxiliary console handles on-stage monitoring. Floor monitors include four JBL SRX712 and six JBL VRX915 wedges powered by Crown XTi 2000 and XTi 4000 amplifiers. Two JBL SRX725 cabinets are available for side-fills.

The flown line array comprises 16 compact JBL VERTEC VT4887 – eight per side – augmented by two pairs of VT4880 dual-18 subwoofers. Four JBL MS26 cabinets handle front-fills, powered by a single Crown XTi 1000. A rack of 10 Crown I-Tech 4000 amplifiers power the line arrays and side-fills. Harman Pro HiQnet™ software handles overall system control and monitoring

“We are very happy with the new sound system,” Guilbault enthuses. “The Soundcraft Vi6 is a delight to use – it’s flexible, powerful and a great creative tool. This coming year we will be accommodating approximately 200 live shows here at Olympia Theatre, of which I will handle maybe 75. I’m convinced that the Soundcraft will be easy for guest engineers to master, which was ultimately why we selected the system.”

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