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Europe’s largest AIDS charity uses Vi6

Soundcraft Vi6 consoles were deployed for Europe’s largest AIDS charity event in Austria last month, writes Paul Watson.

Life Ball has taken place in Vienna annually for the past 18 years and is the largest AIDS charity event in Europe. This year, a pair of Soundcraft Vi6 consoles were brought in to deal with the plethora of artists that were taking part, which included Natasha Bedingfield, Gateau Chocolat, Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes To Hollywood vocalist) and Kazaky. Hosted by Parisiennes Marc Zaffuto and Emmanuel D’Orazio, the event took place in Vienna City Hall Square under the slogan Spread the Wings of Tolerance. Among the 3,780 ticket holders were special guests including former US President Bill Clinton, Janet Jackson (who represented amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research), Brooke Shields, and fashion-guru Vivienne Westwood. More than 20,000 fans gathered outside the Rathausplatz for the main outdoor show and TV stations from all over the world were in attendance. Two Soundcraft Vi6s were in charge of the sound at FOH and monitor position respectively, and audio coverage needed to extend almost 200 metres via three speaker delay lines to the back of the square. System tech Klaus Hubner was overlooking the Vi6 at FOH position, and says this year’s event was particularly challenging as production built a stage with two large 9-tonne wings which had to be moved during the event. Due to time constraints and each artist only playing one song, snap decisions needed to be made on whether to go live or opt for playback. “The orchestra was relocated to the catwalk and downgraded to playback; and we also received information that Natasha Bedingfield and Natalia Kills would play live, but because the staging company was late, we ran out of rehearsal time,” Hubner explains. “So the promoter decided to do them all on playback, which was probably the better choice.” The Vi6 at FOH was originally set up for everyone to play live, but due to the changes in schedule, only 32 channels plus FX were in use. The desk was configured for MADI and an analogue split was also provided for ORF, the Austrian TV station. Hubner optimised the system and worked alongside fellow engineer Andy Frey (of Freyaudio). Hubner says the fact that two engineers can work off the one Vi6 console is a major plus point on an event of such magnitude. “It meant that sometimes when Andy [Frey] was operating rehearsals, I could be preparing for the next rehearsal on the right bay,” Hubner explains. “He also cares about the show, and I care about the system; he really likes the Vi6 and also specifies it for his shows.” Hubner is also a fan of the Vi6’s Vistonics II touchscreen interface, and says that he finds the console totally self-explanatory and easy to operate. “The Copy & Paste facility is really important,” he says. “In a stressful situation with a lot of changes, it’s a life saver; and as for the dynamics, I love the Lexicon FX and I use the de-esser as a dynamic EQ, which works perfectly.”