The 25th edition of the US agriculture-aiding event featured performances from Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Norah Jones, Kenny Chesney and others.
Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America was broadcast on Willie’s Place, Sirius/XM Radio and DIRECTV’s The 101 Network. Audio was managed by MTV’s Remote Unit 8 truck and its crew, which consisted of Marc Repp and Browning McCollum. From a 56-fader Lawo mc²66 console – configured as 48+8 faders with eight DSP cards – Repp mixed all music performances.
“For this year’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,” said Repp, pictured (foreground) with McCollum. “For those acts, I was able to use the mc²66’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.
“One aspect of the mc²66 that really helped me address this situation is its DSP Library feature where you can save favourite DSP set-ups per channel and they remain with the console until you actually delete them since they’re not project specific. I had saved several favourite kick-drum settings, drum settings, guitar settings, voice settings, etc., and I used these as starting points for those acts we never did a soundcheck with. This way, I didn’t have to completely define EQ, compression, and a host of other parameters for each new act.”
The Farm Aid set-up also made use of Lawo’s Plug-in Server, which accepts all VST-type audio processing plug-ins without any modification and works seamlessly with the company’s mc² series consoles. The system is integrated with the Lawo HD Core processor, with control of the system originating at the console. This is said to eliminate the process of patching external processing equipment into the console.
“The fact that [the mc²66] uses the DSP Plug-in server enabled me to have rapid access to a huge amount of DSP capability without ever leaving the console,” said Repp. “There’s no patching in of external gear and everything’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 you’re scrambling to get a mix up.”