Canadian singer/composer Loreena McKennitt embarked on a North American tour with final stops in 17 U.S. cities in October in support of her latest studio recording, An Ancient Muse, and recent DVD/CD release Nights From the Alhambra. Allstar Show Industries provided production for the tour. Clive Alcock, one of three directors of the company, mixes front of house for the tour with audio support by a Yamaha PM5D-RH connected to the new DSP5D Expander via a Yamaha DCU5D. Two PM5D-RH consoles are used for monitors with an Aviom interface card in one of the PM5Ds.
With nine musicians onstage and McKennitt delivering around 70 source channels to FOH and monitors, Alcock says he strives for the clearest and best sound possible. All the consoles and the Yamaha DSP5D are running at 96 kHz. Having specified digital consoles since around 1998, when Allstar determined digital consoles were viable for live mixing, Alcock says his experience with digital dates back to a Yamaha 02R. He’s been mixing on a Yamaha PM5D-RH for about six years and has used a Yamaha DM1000, DM2000 and PM1D, and consoles from other manufacturers.
“A very important thing for me is that the console can be run at 96 kHz," he says. "To my ear, there is a significant difference in audio quality between 48k and 96k, so I always run Yamaha PM5Ds at 96k. I also think it is the deciding factor between the PM5D and the other ‘professional’ digital mixing consoles that are out in the market. The difference is particularly noticeable when mixing a lot of channels, and on Loreena's show I typically have between 66 and 72 lines from the stage, depending on the current instrument count.”
“The current tour input list is based around 72 inputs,” Alcock continues, “which means two consoles at front of house and two monitor consoles onstage. Typically, we do theater shows and every seat that is not used for front-of-house equipment is potential revenue for the show, so keeping the front-of-house footprint to a minimum is an important point.”
He continues to say that when Allstar took delivery of the DSP5D Expander, it enabled him to use just one PM5D at FOH and keep the DSP5D onstage in its own rack right beside the splitters. “We use a Yamaha DCU5D at front of house and with a Cat-5 cable, cascade the two desks together," he adds. "Consequently, the front-of-house desk acts as a controller for the DSP5D, saving another couple of seats each night. Using the DSP5D in this manner saves having to run more multicore to front of house and reduces the number of return lines, as well.”
Allstar plans to add AES/EBU output cards to the DSP5D so that the mix outputs can be routed directly to the P.A. processor in digital format. “The Yamaha PM5D-DSP5D system sounds even, clear and very neutral, which works well for me because there is an amazing array of sounds that come off the stage,” Alcock adds. “If the system sounds colored, then it compromises the individual tonalities of many of the instruments and makes the mix a lot cloudier.”
The tour uses a Meyer P.A. with MILO cabs for front end and CQ2 and M1D for down- and front-fill, respectively. The downstage monitors are Meyer UM1 and UPA speakers; most of the backline musicians use ear monitors controlled by Aviom personal mixing stations. Microphones include Neumann KSM105s; AKG C-535 and C-2000s; Shure Beta 98, Beta 91 and Beta 57; and Audio Technica PRO-35R and PRO-37R.
“There are two continuing challenges for me; the first is to create a space for all the sounds so that they can be clearly heard and yet all fit together in a musical way, and the second is to keep command of the mix—to make sure that the balances are correct, appropriate and reproducible every night," Alcock says. "I can't imagine mixing this show without a digital console using scenes, event lists and store/recall functions that I now take for granted on the PM5D. The Yamaha DSP5D is really stable and solid, and of course it sounds as good as the PM5D.”
For more information on the board, visit www.yamahaca.com. For more information on Allstar Show Industries, visit www.allstar-show.com. For additional SR news, visit The Briefing Room and mixonline.com/live/tourprofiles/.