DiGiCo SD8 - Mixing In A Beautiful Light
After playing festivals last summer, multi award-winning Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Macdonald has spent February and March on a European tour to promote her latest album Life In A Beautiful Light. Front of House engineer Fabrizio Piazzini is mixing the shows on a DiGiCo SD8.
Fabrizio is a long-term DiGiCo user, having started on the D1, not long after the company was founded. “DiGiCo consoles are my favourites,” he says. “They go to places where other consoles don’t. The automation is so in-depth and so easily editable that I can edit it during the show. Even at a really busy gig, I can still do really geeky things and make sure they work. It’s very simple to do.”
Fabrizio’s choice of the SD8 has been based on a number of factors, all of which he believes the SD8 excels at.
“I love the SD8 for many reasons. Firstly it is a very clear, crisp, natural sounding console - the preamps are very clean and it doesn’t colour the sound at all. It’s also a very sexy surface - it just feels ‘right’,” he says. “The multi input channels and the dynamic EQ that you can dial in as and where you want are great. I also like the fact that it’s all on MADI, which makes it very fast and easy to do virtual soundchecks. Literally one button click allows me to tune the room with the show file, rather than with some well recorded music from the 1970s or whatever.”
The SD8 uses 53 inputs on the shows, which Fabrizio is outputting to a basic left/right mix. While Macdonald’s guitar and vocals are the obvious focus, he also has to bring out the dynamics of her album recordings, which means he has to stay on his toes.
“I want people to see and hear Amy, but without her being overpowering,” he says. “The production on the albums is very clever, there are lots of little melodies coming from different instruments - one second the piano has a really interesting melody, the next second the bass does a cool line, then a Hammond organ comes in, then a guitar…it’s very dynamic. I have a Snapshot per song, but I am riding the faders throughout the show.”
The shows includes an acoustic interlude, for which Fabrizio has found the Set Spill feature - in the SD8’s latest Overdrive 2 software - exceptionally useful. “Set Spill is a great feature. For the acoustic segment, I can dial up all the faders of the channels being used in those four songs, rather than having the whole lot, so I can re-populate the surface as I want it,” he notes.
Another feature he is a big fan of is the Waves SoundGrid integration, which he uses extensively. “I do the drum bussing and compressing using the Waves SSL G-Master Buss compressor, the phase plug-in for the kick and snare and multi-band Waves TransX modulation for the toms, which keeps them prominent without being too loud,” he says. “The Abbey Road REDD Consoles plug-in gives the bass a huge sound, which is amazing, and I also use transit modulation on the acoustic guitar. For the vocal I use the C6 multi-band compressor and the Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter®.
“These are all tools which I could not afford to take the hardware versions of on tour, but with the Waves integration I can,” he continues. “Being able to use effects out on tour that everyone knows in the studio is fantastic. It’s just a matter of choosing what tools I need for that day, loading the file and I’m done. And access to all of them is on the console’s surface.
“Waves with DiGiCo perfectly complements the consoles, because the whole chain is super high quality. DiGiCo consoles sound good and the Waves plugins make a show sound better. The combination is of a really, really high standard and has revolutionised the way I work on tour.”