DiGiCo Is The (USB) Key For Live Band Audio
Added value for both performers and fans is one of the many advantages that digital audio has brought to live music. Taking this side of digital audio to the next stage is Live Band Audio, whose recently-purchased DiGiCo SD8 is key to delivering live recordings to audiences much more quickly.
Thanks to digital audio, instead of a few dates of an entire tour being recorded for release as the occasional live album these days fans are able to buy a recording of every show. The ability to have a recording of a gig you were at is a powerful incentive to purchase, providing satisfaction for the fans and more income for the artist.
Swindon-based Live Band Audio’s new mobile studio is aiming to make this even more accessible, by making live recordings of both entertainment and corporate events available on USB wristband flash drives almost immediately after the gig.
After graduating from Australia’s prestigious SAE Institute in Byron Bay, Australia, Live Band Audio Director Adam Mardell has spent the past six years honing his craft as a mixing engineer. With a lifelong interest in live recording he believed that there was a market to sell live albums, which not only gave the fans the 'Magic of the night' but also provided the artist with an additional revenue stream. “By selling the music on USB bracelets we found we could make copies faster”.
Having decided to build a mobile facility that could achieve this, Adam’s choice of mixing console was straightforward.
“I had used DiGiCo consoles before. I liked the preamps, the reliability and the fact that the audio quality makes them a good choice for this kind of work,” he says. “The SD8’s channel count was the right size - we’re currently running 48 channels, but it can run up to 60 channels locally - and the effects are really good. We also have the Waves SoundGrid, which gives us extra creativity and is industry standard. Being able to use both the DiGiCo and Waves effects is brilliant, we can bring in any particular sound that an artist wants.”
Feeds for the system come from an onstage house splitter or, when one isn't available, the MaDiRack purchased with the SD8. MADI lines are run out to the mobile studio, where multitrack recordings are captured on two separate Pro Tools systems, for later mixing if required. Two stereo mixes for the ‘instant’ USB wristband recordings are output from four of the SD8’s outputs to a pair of Tascam SS-R200 digital recorders.
“One of the main reasons for providing this facility in a Transit-sized van is that we can work outside the venue,” says Adam. “We speak to the production company in advance to organise how the multitrack split is going to happen, but we don’t want to be in the production team’s way at the venue. Once we’re hooked up, we just run in the background. They can get on with the job and forget about us.”
Advance meetings are also held with the artist, to confirm any branding required on the finished USB wristbands and any particular requests regarding the sound. At the venue, Adam and the team will record the soundcheck, which they will then ask the artist to spend a few minutes listening back to for final approval.
“It is their art, so we make sure that the artist is 100% happy with everything before the show,” says Adam. “The reaction has been very positive and the DiGiCo system has been really reliable.”
Once the show has finished, Adam’s aim is to have around 300 recordings ready for purchase on USB wristbands within three-to-four minutes. Good news for the audience, but perhaps even better for the artist.
“The service doesn’t cost the artist anything and they can profit from the sales “the money we all make is distributed from the sale of the USB wristbands,” says Adam. “A lot of bands are touring on exceptionally tight budgets, so any extra bit of money is everything to them. This service provides extra revenue for them and something different for the audience.”