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Toronto gig for Innovason’s Eclipse

Now in its 23rd year, the Toronto Jazz Festival attracts some 500,000 visitors each year for 10 days of performances drawn from the mainstream and fringes of the international jazz world.

Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, Chaka Khan and Maceo Parker were among the star names at this year’s Toronto Jazz Festival. To accommodate all of the acts at the 1,200-seat Nathan Phillip Square main stage, FOH chief Brad Mulligan set up the Innovason Eclipse digital console to have a predicable ‘analogue’ topology.

For nearly all of the engineers, it was their introduction to Innovason’s M.A.R.S. integrated multitrack recording system, which enabled them to record portions of the soundcheck and then tweak mixes offline via headphones.

“Of course, the huge advantage of having a digital board for an event like the Toronto Jazz Festival is that we can save each act’s mix at soundcheck and then recall it instantly for the performance,” said Mulligan. “That said, it’s still the case that 85% of the riders we get show a preference for an analogue board. The engineers want to focus on the music, not learning some menu-thick interface. The Innovason Eclipse is tremendously flexible, and I am able to set it up in a way that everyone agrees feels analogue. In that way, we get the best of both worlds – instant recall and an intuitive interface that puts engineers at ease.”

For the Toronto Jazz Festival, Mulligan laid out 36 input channels. The SmartPanel section was set up in four very simple ways: as input channels 37-48, aux sends with direct accessible rotary sends, as channels of effects returns, and finally, as the system matrix. In addition, six VCAs and six VCA effects returns occupied the remaining faders all on a single, instantly-accessible layer. The average festival input request was 34, while larger acts were accommodated by adding channels to a second layer.

“As I’ve set it up, the Eclipse is perhaps the most analogue-friendly digital board out there,” said Mulligan. “Everything is accessible from the control surface so there is no need to hunt around for things, which can be off-putting. When each of the engineers came in, I gave them a three-minute intro, and they were happily left to zero in on a mix for soundcheck. The Innovason Eclipse’s very small footprint was also nice, as space at the FOH booth was a premium. Even so, the surface comfortably fits 48 faders.”