Australia's Tim Minchin Tours with SD7
Comedian, musician, genius. These words may just about describe the phenomenal talent that is Australia's Tim Minchin. The Perth bred stand up sensation just finished a seven-date tour of UK arenas where he performed with a full orchestra. For this demanding audio production, Dutch rental company Da Capo was chosen specifically for its orchestral experience. Their choice of kit were none other than several DiGiCo SD consoles to cope with the extensive requirements.
"We are very experienced with in-ear monitoring for orchestras and have specific systems that we use," explains Da Capo founder and sound designer for the tour, Rob van der Meijs. "Initially, monitor speakers were requested, but the sound level on stage should be as low as possible so we recommended in-ears instead."
Using a system devised by Da Capo, every musician was supplied with his or her own personal amplifier. This enabled them to listen to the mix from the monitor engineer and to mix in the vocal and their own instrument to the total mix.
"This involves a large number of mixes and close mic'ing for the orchestra, so we needed a lot of inputs, which is why we chose to use DiGiCo consoles," continues Rob, "Of course, it is also tailored to the equipment we own, and we own DiGiCo consoles [supplied by DiGiCo's Dutch distributor, TM Audio], which are very flexible and are capable of handling the number of inputs and outputs we needed."
Rob chose SD7s for both the monitor and FOH positions.
"The SD7 could have handled both the orchestra and the band, which comprised a drummer, a bass player and Tim on piano, then there are Tim's vocals and the drummer and bass player's backing vocals. But Tim has his own FOH engineer, Matt Simmons, and he wanted him to do the band sound, so we added a second console at FOH an SD8 36 and we did the same for Fraser Munro on monitors, but with an SD8 24.
"Because of this, there was a need to share racks and make cross mixes. The DiGiCo's MADI connections are ideal for this. All consoles were on the same world clock and we could make connections between racks and consoles, or share racks and make connections between consoles, all using MADI.
"We gave Simmons his own rack for the band and provided analogue splits. For the orchestra, we had only one set of racks and used gain tracking."
Simmons utilized the console's snapshots facility and also used a Waves Soundgrid, allowing him to access plug-ins, but the Da Capo team of Remko Luijten at FOH and Ron Peeters on monitors did not require that particular facility.
"Since the orchestra hears exactly what they need to hear they can play well and make the balance themselves," says Rob. "That makes it easier for everyone; musicians, conductor and sound engineers."
Additionally, every concert was multitracked via a Windows computer with three RME MADI cards and Cubase installed. This enabled Da Capo to record 168 tracks directly from the console with just three BNC cables and, at the push of a button, hear them played back through their individual channels for a virtual sound check.
"Overall it went very well," Rob concludes. "Everyone was very satisfied and enthusiastic. Now Tim is going to do this in Australia with a symphony orchestra in normal sized concert halls. They are going to come back and do this in Scotland in April and we hope to be with them again then."