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From the 18th century to the digital domain


Yamaha consoles and networking systems in Umbria Jazz theatres

Perugia’s Pavone Theatre was built in 1717 by a group of local noblemen and in 1777, as a response, the town’s middle class decided to have another built: the Morlacchi. For the 35th edition of Umbria Jazz, both the historical theatres hosted top class jazz by Italian and international musicians, a fundamental part of the highly varied program at the famous annual Italian festival.

For these two prestigious venues, which featured performances by artists of the calibre of Carla Bley, Paolo Fresu, Maria Schneider, the Gil Evans Orchestra, Brad Mehldau, Pat Martino, Bill Frisell, Enrico Rava, Charlie Haden and many more, Audiotek of Bolzano supplied four Yamaha digital consoles (an M7CL on FOH at the Morlacchi, a DM2000 at the Pavone, and an LS9-32 on monitor duty at both). Signal transmission in each theatre was entrusted to a digital system made up of six AD8HR 8-channel preamplifiers, which also converted the analogue signals to AES/EBU, an NAI48ES AES/EBU - EtherSound interface and a normal Cat-5 cable, also used for L/R signals fed from the desks to the PAs’ processors.
The firm’s owner, Matteo Coppe, explains, “At the Morlacchi, the FOH console was equipped with an EtherSound MY16-ES64 interface card and two MY16-EX expansion cards to handle all 48 channels, and we sent the TV OB audio team a feed from the matrices, via a Yamaha DA824 8-channel converter mounted in the signal transmission system rack on stage, in order to reduce cable runs to a minimum.”

One of the veterans of the festival’s audio team, Gianni Grassilli, designed the sound reinforcement and supplied the backlines for all the venues for which Fabrizio Dall'Oca (Master Audio - Bolzano) was the audio contractor, including both theatres.
At the Morlacchi, Grassilli also mixed FOH for almost all the concerts and, after his first experience with an M7CL, stated, “It gave me the impression of being more suited to live work and therefore very intuitive to use but, since I almost always mixed for different shows, I wasn’t unfortunately able to make take advantage of the convenience of being able to store scenes.”
He also enthused regarding the transmission system, “As well as being light-weight, it uses Yamaha’s best mic preamplifiers (those on the PM5000 and PM5D-RH), so audio quality gained considerably. For the type of acoustic music played at the Morlacchi, the microphones were almost all condenser models, so having good preamps was a godsend.”

In Italy, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the death of Gil Evans, the famous Gil Evans Orchestra was led by his son, Miles. FOH sound was mixed by another son of the great arranger, Noah, who was also on his first outing with the M7CL. After the concert, he said, “I'm not used to working on digital boards, but we used Yamaha mixers for other concerts on this tour and in Perugia, were able to do two independent mixes - one for the house and one for RAI, that was cool! As far as the features on the M7CL are concerned, they are great - it's insane what you can do, like being able to put EQ, comp, EFX - whatever you want - on every channel! It’s like in a studio - not to mention the possibility of storing your setups!”
Regarding the digital transmission and EtherSound network, he added, “Technically, it is an amazing thing! It just enabled us to do things we could only dream of in the past!”

Ken Jablonski, FOH engineer with charming Minnesota bandleader Maria Schneider, controlled and mixed lo less than 29 signals from the stage. He had already used the M7CL in Belgium and Spain and said, “It is pretty intuitive to get around on and, as well as being able to save a copy of the inputs to my RAM stick for the next show, the EQ and compression for each channel is a great feature. The digital transmission system’s features were invisible to me, but I noted the clean sound.”

Coppe was also on monitor duty at the Morlacchi and, regarding the performance of the LS9, was enthusiastic, “As well as its unbeatable quality:price ratio, it’s compact and works well. In Perugia, having everything at my fingertips was fundamental. With eight menu keys, you can do everything, and with a few sub-menus you have all the essential features for mixing work. The Custom Fader Layer is also very useful – it enables to set all the 32 sliders exactly as required, keeping an eye on - for example - sixteen input channels, six monitor send masters, effects returns, reference monitor volume, matrices, etc.”
Another function Coppe appreciated was “Undo Recall” and, regarding the signal transmission system, concluded, “It offers endless advantages – running out a normal Cat-5 cable, we connected the stage and the FOH desk and a few minutes later everything was ready to go - 48 in and 16 out in that configuration. There’s no need for a PC to set the gain – everything is done from the console – and there are no longer again problems with noisy interference, even if the cable passes close to high voltage supplies.
Plus, with the AD8HR preamps, it sounds really great!”

At his 21st edition of Umbria Jazz, Fabrizio Dall'Oca (with Grassilli) was responsible for the design of the sound systems in the theatres and clubs, as well as coordinating the technicians handling them. He was also FOH engineer at the Pavone and, even if still a staunch analogue fan, had to admit, “With the AD8HR preamps integrated in the transmission system, the sound was considerably better than a similar set-up by another brand I used in the past, as well as being extremely easy to handle.”
Alessandro Barbino, monitor engineer at the Pavone, had already previously used the LS9 on a couple of occasions, but Perugia was his first opportunity to get to know it better and make more in-depth use of its features.
“It’s very intuitive and, in spite of its small footprint, has absolutely everything necessary for monitor work.” Barbino also praised the Custom Fader Layer facility, “I used it for the 24 channels I was mixing, the monitor sends and my reference monitor at the console. Having stored the gains, group changeover on stage was done extremely quickly, I called up the memory and the next group could start playing – this was very useful, for example, with Pat Martino, who played for ten consecutive days.”


Products M7CL-48 , DM2000VCM , LS9-32

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