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Stefano Carboni: piano and forte

Stefano Carbon is FOH engineer for Italian classic pianist and composer Giovanni Allevi. Mike Clark reveals some of the mic placement techniques he deploys for the piano ace’s monumental concerts and his preferred set-up at FOH position...

Stefano Carboni, FOH engineer since 2006 with Italian contemporary classic pianist/composer Giovanni Allevi, explains his mic placement to meet the artist’s requests on the Italian leg of his Alien world tour, which visited some of the country’s most spectacular monuments…

”He wants top-grade sound – classic, very smooth, never aggressive on the high notes, with a full-bodied natural bottom end – all at quite high volumes. DPA 4021s are among the most suited to amplifying classical instruments, ensuring precision and extremely linear frequency response, no matter what the dynamics of the music. Allevi’s music can vary from an almost inaudible pianissimo to a fortissimo with a full orchestra.” 

Carboni’s placement features one 4021 in the tail, in the area of the bass strings, and another at the centre, more or less at the height of the bentside curve, in the middle of the sound board (both mounted on Flamingo active floor stands).

“The tail mic does about 70% of the work and is extremely precise, not only in the low range, but also the rest of the frequencies. The other adds a touch of ‘freshness’ and definition in the mid-high zone, and a bit of natural reverb. If, for broadcast reasons, Giovanni plays with the lid closed or removed, two more 4021 are mounted with magnetic bases on the soundboard – and, in spite of being so close to the strings, they’ve astonishing softness and definition.”

On his first outing with a DiGiCo SD11, Carboni enthused: “The sound’s excellent, the preamps and EQ work very well and I’ve everything I need on one layer. Considering the locations, having a small console with such high quality and Cat5 signal transport solved a lot of problems. Sound reinforcement in these contexts is quite basic – ancient Greeks and Romans knew the rules of acoustics better than many present-day architects and engineers!” 

Audio contractor BH Audio from San Giuseppe (Ferrara), which has been in the trade since 1979 and is a specialist in acoustic music, fielded a d&b T-Series rig. The company’s Massimo Carli adds: “I chose them because they’re compact and could be rapidly adapted to suit the wide variety of venues – many were classified monuments, with no designs, often no flying possibilities and seats round both sides of the stage. We had up to 12 T10 and two T-SUB ready to fly per side, but at the Taormina Greek Theatre (built in 3BC) we had to stack the T10 and use four B4 subs we also had on tour with us on the stage. We used an iPad with a VNC to control a laptop running R1 remote control software and an R70 Ethernet to CAN interface, which in turn remote controlled the enclosures’ processors.

The T-Series are very neutral and natural – almost like studio monitors – so the grand piano sounds just like it should, not like an electric instrument, as happens with other PAs.”