The Philadelphia Orchestra has chosen to install an Audient ASP8024 analog console in its new home in Verizon Hall. The 36-input, in-line recording desk is the centerpiece of the audio control room at the 2,547-seat concert hall, which was designed specifically for the orchestra and is located within the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
The Audient was chosen after a lengthy evaluation of analog and digital mixing console options side-by-side in the control room. "Whilst we were seduced by the recall and ease-of-use of the digital solutions, the sound of the Audient was a clear winner," offers Simon Woods, a former producer at Abbey Road Studios in London, and until recently, The Philadelphia Orchestra's vice president of artistic planning and operations.
"It was open, natural, three-dimensional, and gloriously warm," continues Woods, who is now president and CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. "You felt a remarkable sense of space in the hall, and it just felt real rather than processed. It was a huge quantum leap of quality over the digital desks.”
George Blood, of George Blood Audio and the Safe Sound Archives, and the Philadelphia Orchestra's longtime recording engineer, is overseeing technical design for the new control room, with acoustical design provided by Doug Jones. Blood and Woods co-produced the Philadelphia Orchestra's first in-house release, a three-disc set of orchestral works by Robert Schumann, which attracted two Grammy nominations last year.
As Blood notes, the digital console option had to be pursued. "We were particularly interested, not only for the forward-looking technology in a digital desk but also the functionality--recall, and the possibility to apply time delay in the channels. There were things that we liked about all of the desks, but at the end of each day we kept coming back to the Audient. And as this is the first major equipment purchase the orchestra has made in 20 years, we needed to be absolutely certain about performance and value."
The ASP8024 is a full-featured, 24-track console that has been designed using the absolute shortest signal paths throughout, resulting in the highest possible signal quality at the outputs. That design philosophy dovetailed nicely with Blood's design, which incorporates Schoeps microphones, Jensen Twin Servo 990 mic preamps and Prism AD2 converters.
"We've got remote mic pre’s and the cable cut to length ahead of the mic pre’s," he reveals. To then install 36 channels of expensive A/D converters on a digital console would have been prohibitive, he observes. "The digital desks are an excellent value for the package, but what it takes to get from analog to digital is very expensive, and to do it across a whole desk was prohibitive."
For more information about Audient products and further details of this installation, please go to www.audiotoys.com.