An SD7 at FOH and two more in monitor world provided Music’s Big Night with concert-grade live sound for the performances in the Staples Center while giving the mixers the kinds of operational and workflow features that let them easily manage the most complex music event of the year

For the sixth year in a row, the DiGiCo SD7 console was the audio mixing hub for the two most critical junctions of the live sound for the Grammy Awards, held on February 10 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. A DiGiCo SD7 supplied by live-sound provider ATK Audiotek was in place to mix sound for front of house, while two more SD7 desks were located stage left backstage to handle monitors for the 18 performances that would take place on the split stage, with one SD7 assigned to each side of the stage. Monitor engineers Tom Pesa, who worked stage right, and Mike Parker, on stage left, joined FOH mixer Ron Reaves—plus production mixer Mikael Stewart on an SD5—to make Music’s Big Night an all-DiGiCo affair.

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards FOH crew, clockwise from front: Ron Reaves, FOH music mixer, at the house DiGiCo SD7; Leslie Ann Jones; Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher, FOH system engineer; Jeff Peterson, FOH tech; Rick Bramlette, PA system tech; and Mikael Stewart, FOH production mixer, at the DiGiCo SD5 production console (credit for all photos: Kevin Winter / Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards FOH crew, clockwise from front: Ron Reaves, FOH music mixer, at the house DiGiCo SD7; Leslie Ann Jones; Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher, FOH system engineer; Jeff Peterson, FOH tech; Rick Bramlette, PA system tech; and Mikael Stewart, FOH production mixer, at the DiGiCo SD5 production console (credit for all photos: Kevin Winter / Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

“The SD7 is literally the best console in the world for what I do at the Grammy Awards,” says Ron Reaves, who is in his 17th year as the FOH mixer on the production. “There’s such variety musically on the show, and it’s one genre right after the other. The SD7 lets me build a template for the entire show that I can adapt as we go through the rehearsals, so I’m ready for each song the night of the show.”

Reaves used only the processing onboard the console during the show, including EQ and effects. “Not having to go outside the console at all during rehearsals and the broadcast let me keep my focus where it needs to be, on the music,” he says. “The SD7 performed flawlessly, as expected.”

Reaves and the SD7 were to be together once again less than a week after the Grammy Awards, as he mixed front of house for the 30th annual Premios Lo Nuestro (Lo Nuestro Awards), the Spanish-language awards show honoring the best of Latin music, presented by Univision from Miami. “It’s the same thing in that the SD7 gives me a rock-solid base from which to mix anything, and to be ready for any changes that come my way during a live music broadcast,” he says. “And believe me, there will be changes.”

Tom Pesa at the stage right DiGiCo SD7 monitor console

Tom Pesa at the stage right DiGiCo SD7 monitor console

Tom Pesa, who completed his 20th Grammy Awards show mixing monitors in February, reports that he also just used a DiGiCo SD5 to mix the pre-game and halftime shows for this year’s Super Bowl. With plenty more mix time on SD-Range consoles on the schedule for this year—including the recent Academy Awards telecast, as well as the upcoming CMA Awards, ACM Awards, and Billboard Music Awards—Pesa clearly shares Reaves’ appreciation for the SD7. “The SD-Range consoles are the go-to desks for the big awards shows, and the SD7 has really become the standard for the shows with multiple music performances like the Grammy Awards,” he says.

This year, the SD7 was especially helpful at monitors because of the larger-than-usual mix of both in-ear and wedge monitors; for instance, while Dolly Parton used IEMs mixed by Mike Parker for her performance on the show, her band relied on wedges, also supplied by ATK Audiotek. “We were able to set up 12 stereo ears and 16 wedge speakers on the console, so we were ready for any combination the artists wanted to use,” Pesa says.

Mike Parker at the DiGiCo SD7 monitor desk at stage left

Mike Parker at the DiGiCo SD7 monitor desk at stage left

Both monitor mixers were able to rely on the SD7s for all of the processing for the monitors, including EQ and dynamics. “We had compression, gating and parametric EQ on all of the inputs and mix outputs, so we never had to go beyond the package for that,” he adds. “The console lets me lay out all of the resources I’ll need to tap into during the show. We could make one big template and then adapt that for each artist or band, apply it to their inputs and be ready to go. The SD7 is the largest of the SDs, and we used all of it. Monitors for the Grammy Awards is complicated, but the SD7 can handle it all so efficiently.”

For more detail on this year’s Grammy Awards, visit www.grammy.com. ATK Audiotek can likewise be found online at www.atkaudiotek.com.