Image of Marc Repp (foreground) and Browning McCollum seated at the Lawo mcÂ²66 console inside MTVâ€™s Remote Unit 8 truck.
Milwaukee, WI â€“ October 20, 2010â€¦ Geared to increase awareness of the importance of family farms, Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America, took place at Miller Park on Saturday, October 2nd. Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews performed, as did Kenny Chesney, Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, and several additional high profile artists. The event was broadcast on Willieâ€™s Place, Sirius/XM Radio as well as DIRECTV’s The 101 Network. Ensuring the best possible audio quality for this event was a huge undertakingâ€”one that was very ably managed by MTVâ€™s Remote Unit 8 truck and its crew, which consisted of Marc Repp and Browning McCollum. At the center of all this activity, Lawoâ€™s mcÂ²66 digital audio console and Plug-in Server handled the mix.
Marc Repp is the Senior Audio Operations Engineer with Remote Unit 8 and Browning McCollum oversees technical and maintenance operations. In addition to engineering many of the events that Remote Unit 8 serves, Repp also handles mix assist duties when guest engineers are on on-site. For Farm Aid 25, Marc was the man behind the board. Seated at the 56-fader Lawo mcÂ²66 consoleâ€”configured as 48 and 8 faders with eight DSP cards (the maximum number available) for over 500 fully processed DSP channels, Repp was tasked with mixing all music performances. Interestingly, only half of the acts actually had a sound check prior to the show. This presented several challenges, as Repp explained.
â€œFor this yearâ€™s Farm Aid, which I mixed for broadcast in 5.1 surround sound, I only had actual sound checks with half the acts on the roster,â€? Repp reports. â€œFor those acts, I was able to use the mcÂ²66â€™s snapshot automation capabilities and simply recall the appropriate mix. The bigger challenge occurred with the remaining acts that never had a sound check. For those eight or so acts, I was advised of the inputs, what lines I could find them on, and we essentially mixed on the fly.â€?
â€œOne aspect of the mcÂ²66 that really helped me address this situation is its DSP Library feature where you can save favorite DSP setups per channel and they remain with the console until you actually delete them since theyâ€™re not project specific,â€? Repp continued. â€œI had saved several favorite kick drum settings, drum settings, guitar settings, voice settings, etc., and I used these as starting points for those acts we never did a sound check with. This way, I didnâ€™t have to completely define EQ, compression, and a host of other parameters for each new act.â€?
Lawoâ€™s Plug-in Server, which accepts all VST-type audio processing plug-ins without any modification, integrates seamlessly with the companyâ€™s mcÂ² series consoles and has a dramatic impact on the manner in which DSP processing takes place at the mcÂ²66. The system is integrated with the Lawo HD Core processor, with control of the system originating at the console. This eliminates the all-too-common process of patching external processing equipment into the console and, as Repp points out, is a tremendous time saver.
â€œWe mix a lot of multiple act TV shows and recordings,â€? said Repp, â€œand if youâ€™re setting up an outside processor on an act to act basis, somebody has to keep up with all those settings so they can be reset as you move from one act to another. By contrast, if the signal processing is saved as part of the consoleâ€™s automationâ€”as it is with the Plug-in Serverâ€”it gets recalled as part of the snapshot and is ready to go instantaneously. In addition to dynamics processors such as compression and limiting, we can just as easily deploy reverbs, delays, and other effects that, previously, were only available via the outboard gear.â€?
As he turned his attention to his next project, Repp offered this closing thought. â€œThe mcÂ²66 was, absolutely, the right tool for the job on this project,â€? he summarized. â€œThe fact that it uses the DSP Plug-in server enabled me to have rapid access to a huge amount of DSP capability without ever leaving the console. Thereâ€™s no patching in of external gear and everythingâ€™s extremely fast in terms of its operation. The entire system sounds great and comes together to save you a tremendous amount of time and frustration when youâ€™re scrambling to get a mix up. Those of us working in Remote Unit 8 also work with other manufacturersâ€™ equipment and, frankly, I feel as though the other companies are playing catch-up to Lawo. At the end of the day, itâ€™s all about sound qualityâ€”and this is where the Lawo system excels.
Lawo is a manufacturer of digital audio networking systems and consoles for a wide range of applications from small to large scale audio production in television and radio, post production, and live sound. Established in the 1970s, the companyâ€™s manufacturing center is located in the Rhine valley town of Rastatt, Germany. For additional information on Lawoâ€™s plug-in integration and all Lawo products, visit the company online at www.lawo.ca.