As well as multi-platinum sales for several of his 13 successful studio albums, top Italian singer/songwriter Biagio Antonacci can also be counted on for high-impact live events, such as his two recent shows at the Arena della Vittoria in Bari and Milan’s San Siro stadium – for which his long-standing FOH engineer, Stefano De Maio, helmed a CDC eight-32, Cadac’s flagship digital live sound console, on its first outing for a large-scale live event in Italy.
De Maio has worked with Antonacci (pictured) for 25 years – initially as his sound engineer, then, from 1998 (with the album Mi fai stare bene) until 2007 (with Il Cielo ha una porta sola) also as his artistic co-producer. In 2007, he doffed his producer’s hat, but has continued on live FOH duty and, although this was his first outing with a digital console, De Maio had already used a Cadac J-Type console, provided by Italian rental firm Agorà, on the artist’s tours for years.
He explains: “During the two-week rehearsals in the run-up to the shows, I was tied up with solving the countless problems involved in organising such large events – so I actually raised the faders for the first time at the rehearsals on the day before the Bari show, and the same was the case at San Siro!”
After the two high-profile shows, De Maio had no doubts as to which of the desk’s features impressed him most and were the most useful at the events: “Apart from the excellent sound, which is essential, how many digital consoles let you do a good mix in what is virtually a ‘plug and play’ situation? I raised the faders, got the balance – just dialled in the high pass filters on the mic amps – and, with very little EQ or processing, it was up and running!
“Then [there are] the excellent dynamics, EQ and comp, which immediately take engineers like me – born in an analogue world – back to the sounds and settings of top analogue tradition, which everybody is trying to emulate nowadays using plug-ins. With the CDC eight, it’s all right there on board.”
De Maio also stressed the importance of the 24” 16:10 high-definition anti-glare touch screens that give access to the user interface: “Thanks to the large LCD screens, there’s no need to bend over and miss on-stage action while watching the desk… a glance is sufficient.”
Damiano Pinazza (pictured, below right, with Stefano De Maio [left] at the CDC eight), founder of Italy’s Cadac distributor, Audio Network Technology, headquartered in Bovisio Masciago in northern Italy, says: “The Italian market has reacted very well to the products, which we’ve distributed for three years. There‘s ongoing growth and the situation is very positive, particularly in the rental sector – without doubt the must receptive area of the Italian market as far as Cadac is concerned – even although we’ve just finished the first stage of a very high profile install project.
“The features of the CDC eight that have struck potential users most have been its great sound, which everyone takes for granted, but was objectively confirmed at our demos and A/B tests with other brands’ desks. Everybody has also found it extremely easy to use. For example, veteran sound engineer Piero Bravin had never seen the CDC eight, but a few days ago, just an hour after sitting down at the console, recorded a perfect first take of a symphonic orchestra, and after less than three hours’ work was running solo. He said it was kid’s play to use, with its great visibility and layout – in short, extremely intuitive!”
Another winning point, according to Piazza, is the console’s great scalability, as it can be connected more or less as required, daisy-chained or as part of a star network, thanks to the high-speed MegaCOMMS protocol facilities, which enable it to connect to devices such as another console, a MADI or Dante converter, etc.
With Antonacci, Stefan used a CDC eight-32 console, with two main touch screens, each with a 16-fader section, and a central section with the master LCR fader and three other shorter faders for local monitors, headphones and local wedge control.
As well as the lighting and video set-up, L’Aquila’s Agorà (audio contractor for the Sochi Olympics ceremonies, as profiled in PSNEurope in April) fielded an impressive L-Acoustics audio rig for the shows: the main system’s two hangs each featured six K1 subs and 18 K1s, with each of the two side hangs comprising 16 K1s. Infills were 6×6 KUDO, front fills 20 dV-DOSC, and no less than 60 SB28 subs were ground-installed three-up around the set’s central stage. There were also 10 delay hangs, each with six V-DOSC and six dV-DOSC.
De Maio asked Agorà if he could use the Cadac CDC console for the two events… and the company willingly gave its OK. Summing up his experience with the CDC eight-32, De Maio enthused: “This is definitely one of today’s top digital consoles!”