The Nova37 hybrid router played a key role in the undertaking of last month’s Vladimir Cosma concert tour, linking up mixing consoles and stagebox via the RAVENNA protocol, notes Marc Maes
Backed by a 60-strong symphonic orchestra and choir, multi-award winning composer, violinist and conductor Vladimir Cosma has recently highlighted 50 years of career with a concert tour. Romanian-born Cosma, 76, is looking back on a huge repertoire of film scores, operas and symphonic works. While he is perhaps most famous for legendary French movies such as Rabbi Jacob and Le Grand Blond avec une Chaussure Noire (The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe), he also composed symphonic music and military and concert band music. Cosma played four dates in Toulouse, Geneva (Switzerland), Rouen and closing in Lille.
For Lawo’s live sound specialist Hervé de Caro, this big production live tour was an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the Lawo Nova37’s abilities to provide optimal solutions for live sound reinforcement. He found the inspiration for the router in houses of worship…
“Actually, the idea for a router was meant as a solution for the churches in the United States – during the service, they very often use three consoles (FOH, monitor and broadcast). By linking these three elements on a Nova router, everybody gets access to all pre-amps, microphones and exchange buses and audio data,” de Caro says. “The Cosma concerts premiered the use of a Nova37 router on tour.”
The audio configuration during the four symphonic concerts consisted of a Lawo mc² 56 console as FOH (pictured top) and a mc² 36 as monitor desk. “The Nova37 is equipped with eight RAVENNA/AES67 and eight MADI I/O’s. Every component connected to the Nova37 is automatically shared with the other work stations in the network. The Nova37, in its key role establishes automatically the tie-line connections when FOH and monitoring share busses and mic preamps. All connections are available directly in the signal list of each console, so the user has just to patch his necessary resources and doesn’t need to worry about the work done automatically by the Nova37,” explains de Caro. “The Lawo-consoles connected to the Nova37 router can, in the cloud, distribute and receive 128 channels. Connected via the RAVENNA-gate, the engineer can either opt for 256 channels in the cloud, or 128 channels and another 128 spare channels for redundancy.”
De Caro says that, for this specific show, he opted for maximal redundancy throughout the whole system. “The Nova37 stores everything in the cloud,” he continues. “The two monitor buses, the two FOH buses and the two Dallis stage box buses – all 128 I/O and redundancy.”
The fact that all components are shared allows the FOH engineer to configure and send sub-groups directly from the FOH console to the monitor position without one single cable, all connected via RAVENNA and the Nova37. “The FOH engineer makes premixes for violins, celli and contrabasses - the monitor engineer then decides, via the incorporated one-touch rights management system, which musician gets to hear a specific monitor mix,” comments Martial Alix, monitor engineer (earning his ‘Lawo driver’s licence’ during the tour). “I particularly appreciate the flexibility of the mc² 36’s touch-screen operation, the user-friendly faders and of course, the pristine sound. To make sure that all of the instruments get the same sound colour, we used two types of identical microphones, placed at the same height, for the orchestra, avoiding any difference in sound by mixing various brands.”
De Caro underlines that the mc² 36 was not specially developed for monitoring. “But a future version of the console could contain a dedicated control section, exclusively designed and elaborated for monitor engineers – leaving the option to use the mixing desk for either MON or FOH assignments,” he predicts, adding that Lawo appreciates feedback from live engineers reporting ‘from the field’ resulting in developments like a cue-list and the option to control inputs via multiple VCA’s.
The audio configuration for the French Vladimir Cosma (pictured) tour was supplied by major French rental house Dushow and consisted of 2 x 12 flown Meyer Sound Lyon line array cabinets, 2 x 4 Meyer Leopard speakers on stage and 2 x 3 Meyer Sound 1100-LFC subs.
Monitors were all L-Acoustics eight 12XT side wedges, eight 8XT as front monitors and an additional pair of 12XT wedges on either side of the conductor’s stand in front of the orchestra.
System engineer Jean-Philippe Bonichon was particularly happy to work with the double Lawo set-up. “I had the opportunity to work with a Lawo mc² 56 some time ago for the production of a musical – it was a superb experience and that’s why I’ve decided to continue with Lawo for this more acoustic production. The mc² is the Rolls-Royce amongst mixing consoles, with top notch components, a genial dynamic section, smooth running faders and, above all, a great sound,” enthuses Bonichon.
Bonichon (pictured) explains that he preferred to let the console do all the work, limiting his outboard to one single remotely controlled TC M6000 reverb. “The console is also connected, via MADI, with a Waves SoundGrid platform and I use a few plug-ins on the lead vocals, internally inserted on the mc², with direct access on the touch-screen display – what more can a man want?”
The first plan was, according to Bonichon, to stage a fully digital production but he soon realised that finding (the budget for) 128 digital microphones was not evident. He opted for a mix of Neumann KM 184 and AKG C414 microphones all routed directly into the console. “I put together sub group mixes in the FOH desk, and share them on the Nova37 router. The monitor signal is then channeled to the side fills and front monitors. The director gets a specific monitor mix on the side wedges,” he explains.
Despite the fact that reinforcing a symphonic orchestra and the respect for the balance and sound colour always represents some challenge, Bonichon is happy with the way he worked with the Lawo/Meyer Sound kit. “At some point, the sound was so natural that people didn’t know whether the sound system was on – if you don’t notice the difference between the original acoustic sound and the amplification – that’s a nice compliment, no?”
De Caro remains somewhat modest when asked whether the Nova37 is the basis for the future sound system. “That’s perhaps too pretentious… But the sure thing is that we at Lawo have developed a flexible and plug-and-play solution. The big advantage of this configuration is its complete and full redundancy, sharing everything in the cloud,” he concludes.