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Live Sound

Bringing Analog Gear into the Live Digital Realm

A live engineer for acts like Camila Cabello, Brandon Blackwell has been integrating analog gear into his live sound setup.

South Orange, NJ (January 2, 2019)—There’s lots of ways to get “that analog sound” in today’s digital live mixing world, but one of the most reliable approaches is to actually use analog gear. That said, the issue then becomes finding a suitable way to integrate old-school equipment with today’s technology.

For South Orange, NJ-based Brandon Blackwell, owner of Blackwell Productions, LLC, that meant converting his entire arsenal of analog outboard gear into multichannel audio digital interface (MADI) format for control at a DiGiCo console—which requires MADI—when mixing FOH or monitors.

Ferrofish Converters Go Mobile

Blackwell works in a variety of situations, from serving as FOH and monitor engineer for acts like pop star Camila Cabello to providing support services for a wide range of venues, including TV specials, theatrical events, seminars and conferences. Finding a go-to MADI solution meant he’d be able to use his inventory of analog equipment in all those settings and more.

“I’m into using outboard gear, but I have to have a piece of technology that gets it all into my console,” Blackwell said. In recent times, he’s been using a Ferrofish A32 AD/DA MADI and ADAT converter, he explained: “With the A32, I can insert my gear into a single MADI stream. And, I have to say, the A32’s AD/DA conversion is the best I’ve heard.”

With “a major pop tour” on his schedule for next summer, Blackwell has been bringing his Ferrofish A32 to all of his gigs. And since he can get all of his AD/DA and MADI conversion out of a single rack unit, he can fit it in his luggage when he travels to one-off gigs.

“A tour I’m going to do next summer calls for some additional pieces of outboard gear,” Blackwell said. “As I continued to look for more outboard pieces for my own setup, potentially getting up to 32 channels into my desk, I would need a 10-stage rack from DiGiCo. The A32 saves space and, more importantly, saves money. As audio professionals, we want all the flashy toys, but if we can get rid of gear to save on the audio budget, we will.”

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