One of London’s landmark theatres has installed a new Soundcraft Vi3000 digital mixing console as the first phase in a planned sound system upgrade.
The Grade II-listed Hackney Empire is one of the few surviving Frank Matcham designed music halls, built around the turn of the 20th century, and according to technical manager, Othman Read, with the new desk the venue has made its first excursion into digital to replace the entire technical infrastructure.
The Empire had previously maintained the same control set-up since the theatre reopened following major refurbishment in 2004 — and that included a 48-channel Soundcraft MH4 analogue desk. Read says that looking at modern day production requirements, the theatre needed to provide at least 90 channels.
As a result, he opted for the Vi3000 and fibre multicore. The addition of a new Compact Stagebox would ordinarily give him 32 analogue in/ 8 analogue and 8 AES out — but this has been custom configured to provide 48 / 16. This has been carried out by replacing the standard 8 + 8 output panel with an extra 16-XLR input module. By using the two Studer D21m expansion slots, two D-Subs on the desk each carry 8 channels to a Studer 16 output analogue XLR panel racked to the rear of the Stagebox.
Read comments:“This modification has made it perfect for our needs, since with the additional 48 channels from the Stagebox the Vi3000 now provides us with 96 mix channels — which is ideal.”
He adds that a major plus factor was the speed with which shows can be loaded on the desk. “The fact that a couple of engineers who work here swear by it also helped to sway the decision. It is also quick to teach on. In the time I have had it we have had BBC live broadcast engineers, who are familiar with the Studer Vistonics II interface, and recognise the similarity the two boards but who still need training.”
The next upgrade phase, with replacement of amplifiers and loudspeakers, is expected to take place next year, along with the existing GPO patch system, says Read.