Rainbow One, a new mobile recording unit, has launched in Switzerland, with a keen young team behind it. Jo Ruddock reports.
Following feedback concerning a lack of high-quality sound trucks in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Rainbow One has taken to the road. The brainchild of twins Chris and Dan Hauri and friend Fabian Ayer, all of whom have experience in the audio or show production business, the intention is to create a comfortable, multipurpose vehicle that offers an ideal 5.1 environment, for recording or live mixing to air.
“Like every big project, it started with a dream, an opportunity and a nice banker. And by the end of 2008, we had enough signs that were saying ‘Go ahead, guys!’ to start seriously thinking about this project,” explains Hauri.
Ayer already owned the truck, having bought it from Swiss radio a couple of years earlier. “He used to work in there mixing some stuff with an old but lovely Studer 900 and some red carpets on the walls,” adds Hauri. “One day I asked Fabien why we couldn’t take out this analogue console and replace it with a Digidesign Venue and Pro Tools. He said why not. A week later, Alain Schneebeli, chairman of sound company Hyperson, came to me with his VENUE to sell. He was probably kidding – he had no idea about our project – but these opportunities were the starting point.”
The trio were keen to control every element of the audio set-up in the truck. “We’ve done the whole audio design from the first signal input to the very last listening point. We choose every single element and how they would interact,” he says.
“For the acoustical part, we wanted to work with Joel Godel from Acoustica. He has designed a lot of studios in Switzerland, including those at National Radio and Studio Mécanique. He designed and we built. Fabien is a former organ maker so he understood all the acoustical instruction we got from Joel and discussed the points with him. We built all the structures ourselves in an organ manufacturer’s workshop - Flayer sàrl in Romont.”
As well as the VENUE and Pro Tools HD, Rainbow One also features mics from beyerdynamic, AKG, Shure and EV. Up to 104 mic preamps are available, along with a PSI Audio 5.1 monitoring system. Video features include HD/SDI input for video monitoring and optional HD embedding and de-embedding.
“The challenge was to create a perfect 5.1 environment in a quite small room. The PSI speakers were the best solution to our constraints. They are small, powerful and self-powered. We really love their sound, and are used to working with them. Thanks to our room design, we were also able to respect the ideal monitor position for 5.1 mixing.”
Rainbow One has already taken to the road and has been employed for mixing and recording Deep Purple at an open air festival in Caribana near Nyon, as well as on musicals such as Bilbo the Hobbit, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Délivrence, a big show with 80 vocal microphones and a full brass band in Gruyère, which was recorded for DVD. TV work includes live mixing for Miss Suisse on Swiss National TV.
“Our truck is multipurpose,” explains Hauri. “For example it can be a perfect add-on to OB vans with its HD-SDI video inputs and audio interfaces, or the ideal tool to record the shows on a summer festival; in half an hour, we are ready to record 128 tracks.”
In terms of plans for the future, the trio are looking to 5.1 surround sound for further opportunities. “Surround sound for music or TV will be standard within a couple of years. Everybody is working on 5.1 solutions and project to move into this technology shortly, but nobody adapts it in a small mobile unit.”
Hauri concludes: “The best thing to do is to follow our evolution on our website to see if the Rainbow Street becomes a rainbow avenue!”