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Never mind the X factor … LIPA has the Y factor

Dec, 2008

In a society increasingly obsessed with the idea that merely turning up to audition for television talent contests is the way to have a career in the performing arts, it’s gratifying that establishments such as the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts (LIPA) are there to provide realistic, high quality training for this most difficult of industries to work in.

Key to that training is high quality, up-to-date equipment, both to train the next generation of theatre and live technicians and also to provide the trainee performers with the real world scenarios they will be faced with. To this end, in April 2008 LIPA purchased a Yamaha PM5D digital mixing console, which has now been joined by a further Yamaha desk, an M7CL.

It was the positive experience with the PM5D, purchased from LMC Birmingham, that led LIPA Head of Sound Jon Thornton and lecturer Chris Layton to recommend the purchase of the M7CL, subsequently supplied by Leeds-based TMC.

“We’ve been really pleased with the PM5D,” says Chris. “Its top quality technical facilities are well-documented and having a very high presence in the live market is an obvious advantage in preparing our students for working in the industry.

“But we realised that we also needed a console which bridged the gap between analogue and digital. In the first year we teach students the principles of sound reinforcement and using analogue equipment, then in the second year they move on to learning about digital consoles and DSP. The M7CL is very accessible in terms of that move to a digital desk from analogue.

“Added to that, we wanted the variety of having one with a smaller footprint than the PM5D and a different interface, to provide an additional learning experience for students.”

Currently in use at Front of House on a theatre production in LIPA’s prestigious Paul McCartney Auditorium, the M7CL has the versatility to be used in a wide variety of different situations.

“We have a number of music-based shows coming up and will be using it for some at FOH and for others on monitors,” says Chris.

“The scene recall is extremely useful for theatre and shows with multiple music acts. It’s a very quick and straightforward desk to use at both the FOH and monitor positions. And of course it works seamlessly with the PM5D, if required.”

Together with the high quality DSP and preamps, all in a very compact format, the M7CL will be in use almost constantly. However, nobody is losing sight of its main purpose - that of a teaching aid.

“It’s a very good console for teaching on because it’s so straightforward to show people how to use,” says Chris. “They can never have used digital mixers before, but easily get something out of it.”

“From my perspective, three words sum up our decision to increase our investment in Yamaha products - functionality, reliability and future-proofing,” adds LIPA Head of Sound Jon Thornton.

“The first two are features that we’ve always associated with Yamaha products, but the third is becoming increasingly important as we start to look towards the ‘digitalisation’ of the entire signal chain in live performance. And I should add that the ability of Yamaha products to support many different types of digital interfacing, be it MADI, Cobra, EtherSound or others - rather than a single proprietary standard - was an important factor in the decision to purchase both the PM5D and the M7CL.”

Evidence of the immediate impact made by the M7CL on LIPA’s students is provided by Chris taking two straw polls amongst students about their end of term assessment.

“A while ago, when we had been working on analogue, with VCAs and matrix mixing, I told the students that they had a choice of using analogue or digital for their end of term assessment,” says Chris. “Out of interest I asked for a show of hands about who, at that point, wanted to use which format. About two thirds of them said they wanted to use analogue.

“After I’d done just one very basic M7CL introductory session the other week, I asked the same question. This time every single student said they wanted to use the digital console for the end of term assessment!”

Evidently the ‘Y factor’ is very important to helping the students of LIPA towards a successful entertainment industry career.

Data

Products PM5D , M7CL-48

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