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Major Tom really makes the grade at Ed Sheeran shows

Jon Chapple 6 August 2015
Ed Sheeran, Wembley Stadium

A Sennheiser Digital 9000 wireles microphone system, DiGiCo SD7 console and Optocore fibre-optic network were deployed for Ed Sheeran’s five recent shows at Wembley Stadium, London, and Croke Park, Dublin.

“The DiGiCo SD7 has been my companion for the last 18 months and I wouldn’t change it for anything,” says Chris Marsh, the singer’s front-of-house engineer. “There’s so much you can do with dynamic EQ and compression: – the need for additional outboard is negated by the power within the console itself. As long as I have my SD7, I have everything I need. The SD-Mini Rack sits on the stage end. The cool thing about that is that I can have a small amount of I/O within the rack…

“People used to laugh at me when I mixed Ed on an SD11. They said it wasn’t possible to do it on something so small, but of course it was. Now, they’re laughing at me because I’ve got the most powerful console available for one man and a guitar!”

Commenting on his choice of microphone, Marsh adds: “The Digital 9000 series has changed our lives. We had been looking at ways of moving Ed’s guitar away from being wired, but we hadn’t found a good enough wireless system for him to lose the cable, which he’d been using since the very beginning. That was until we tried Digital 9000: unlike others we tried, we found it sounded even better than the cable.

“From an audio point of view, his vocal became a lot more prominent and his guitar sounded more natural. On top of that we’ve been doing stadiums, so having something that has such strong RF capability made a real difference. It meant that Ed could be up to 50m away from the receivers and still have rock-solid reception. It’s made a really big difference to the show and to Ed’s ability to move around the stage.”

The Optocore network was, like the Digital 9000, supplied by UK-based rental company Major Tom. “We had been looking at investing in an Optocore system for a while,” says Major Tom’s Andy Banks. “We have been massive DiGiCo users since they started out, and as such have always used the Optocore products within the DiGiCo set up.” It recently purchased its own independent system, comprising multiple X6R and V3R converters with mic in, line out and AES boards.

“We knew it would make FOH runs smaller and lighter and give greater efficiencies,” continues Banks, “with the requirement for far greater channel capacity over far less cable.”


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