Singer/songwriter, session king and former Squeeze/Mike & the Mechanics keyboardist Paul Carrack recently played three special shows with a trio of Yamaha digital mixing desks in tow.
The Royal College of Music concerts – which saw him joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – were recorded for DVD release.
Fitting a large ensemble and technical spec into the RCM’s 400-capacity Britten Theatre was no mean feat – hence a focus throughout the build-up process on minimising space consumption. In line with these requirements, a pair of Yamaha M7CL48-ES consoles handled FOH and monitor sound, while an 02R96VCM was used to track the show for DVD. With three Yamaha SB1688-ES stage boxes completely the core of the system, the result was a compact, high-quality set-up.
Only a minimum of amplification was required for the intimate shows, which incorporated extensive use of ambient condenser mics – for overall sound – and spot mics for solos and highlighted parts.
“It’s about mixing Paul’s voice on top of the orchestra and pulling other instruments out just enough to make it sound acoustic, but still live and full,” said Keith Birtwhistle, Carrack’s long-term front of house engineer. “These are prestigious shows for him, the kind of unusual gigs that he really enjoys doing. And it’s been going down a storm; the audience is loving it and it’s sounding great.
“One of the really useful things for me is that the M7CL is not dual layered like most digital desks. It’s a 48-channel desk with 48 faders, which means instant access to most of the channels. You need that with an orchestra, because you never know what they’re going to do and you don’t get much time to soundcheck.”
In the RCM’s in-house studio, engineer Steven Harrington used the resident 02R96VCM console to track all three shows to ProTools for a future DVD release.
“We use the console for a lot of things, mainly studio recordings for students and live recordings from the College’s various venues,” said Harrington. “Permanent tielines link the console with the live performance spaces so, for this show, 32 channels of both digital and analogue feed are being tracked on the Yamaha console. That recording will then be taken and mixed for the DVD.
“Some of the original mics hung in the Britten theatre are fed via analogue ties, so we’ve got them on a separate layer, using the preamps on the desk. It’s a pretty versatile console for every scenario we have and we frequently use every layer. It’s got all the facilities we need in a compact footprint.”