Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011 and Miss Nebraska 2010 winner, with the Soundcraft Si Expression 3.
Clyde Reimers, owner of live sound contractor CL1 Productions in Lexington, Nebraska, and a veteran audio professional whose career began in the 1960s, recently purchased a Harman Soundcraft Si Expression 3 digital live sound console and used it for the Miss Nebraska 2013 pageant.
Reimers used the 32-channel Si Expression 3 to play back more than 50 audio tracks and 30 tracks with audio and video.
“Each contestant either performed live or provided their own track for accompaniment, and each track needed different EQ, compression, level matching and other tweaking,” he says. Previously, Reimers says, he would have to spend a lot of time before the pageant remixing and re-recording the tracks to get them sonically consistent, or even more daunting, make adjustments on the fly at the time of the show.
He took an entirely different approach using the Si Expression 3. “In the two weeks of rehearsals I made the adjustments to each track on the Si Expression 3 and saved each one as a separate scene that I could instantly recall during the show.” Reimers assigned each contestant a number and found that what was previously very stressful and time-consuming became as easy as pushing a button once to go from one track to the next during the course of the 3-hour show.
Harman's Soundcraft Si Expression 3 digital live sound console at the Miss Nebraska 2013 pageant
Reimers did the same thing for the live performances, accommodating everything from 16 channels of wireless and an onstage grand piano to in-ear and wedge monitor mixes. “Previously I’d have to have a very big cheat sheet,” he says.
Coming from a live theater sound background, Reimers finds the versatility of the Si Expression 3 to be so useful in this regard and in other aspects that he says he’ll “never look at an analog desk again.” In addition to the Miss Nebraska 2013 event, CL1 Productions has used the console for theater productions like Nunsense, air shows, corporate functions, music festivals and other events and in every case he’s been impressed by the Si Expression 3’s ultra-clean sound quality, lack of noise and immunity to ground loops.
“With many consoles you’ll hear that ‘pop’ when you turn the console on and off while the amps are still on. I’d have to ask the other crew members if it was OK to turn the console on or off.” At one festival notorious for its “horrible” AC power, Reimers always had to struggle with noise coming through the analog console. “Now, the Si Expression 3 is so quiet I can’t even tell if the P.A. system is on or not.”
Reimers has used the console on shows where the Si Expression 3 provided a main mix and six monitor mixes and still had six subgroups left. In another situation he found he could configure the console where three subgroups rather than eight provided all the mixing flexibility he needed. “You have to re-think the way you normally mix audio,” he notes. “The Si Expression 3 feels more like a VCA console where you can assign anything to do anything you want.” The ability to globally look at functions like panning, EQ, and other aspects is invaluable when he needs to troubleshoot, instead of having to cue every channel to see if one is misbehaving.
Although all the automation and functionality is extremely useful, Reimers notes that the Si Expression 3 is equally adept when he has to mix manually. He says that during one production of Nunsense, he neglected to save any settings, and realized it while people were entering the theater. He was able to do the show “blind” with no problem, finding the console’s FaderGlow illuminated fader feature particularly useful in the darkened theater environment.
Reimers adds that CL1 Productions is planning on purchasing another Si Expression 3. “When you go to the CL1 Productions Website in the near future you’re probably going to see an ad that says, ‘Much analog equipment for sale—cheap!’”
For more information on CL1 Productions, visit www.cl1productions.com.