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Paul McCartney Auditorium's PM5D adds to LIPA's ever-growing Yamaha inventory

Jun, 2008

The recent addition of a Yamaha PM5D digital mixing console to the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts (LIPA) - the internationally acclaimed educational and training establishment founded by Sir Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty in 1996 - cements a longstanding relationship between the two concerns

The relationship between LIPA and Yamaha stretches back to the Institute’s 1996 opening, during which time a large and ever-expanding inventory of Yamaha equipment has been installed - from the most basic mixer to now the PM5D - which means that students can learn their craft on small Yamaha consoles, building up their knowledge and capabilities through progressively more complex models, all within the confines of the learning environment.

This allows them to be as highly skilled as possible before they go out into the workplace, a process Yamaha is very committed to assisting.

The Paul McCartney Auditorium (PMA) is LIPA’s main performance space - a 500-seat venue featuring cutting-edge sound and lighting facilities, which puts on an average of 120 performances per year - which has now been significantly upgraded with the installation of the Yamaha PM5D console.

“Productions in the PMA range from Shakespeare to rock’n’roll gigs and everything in between,” says Jon Thornton, LIPA’s Head of Sound. “For some time we have been committed to buying a large format digital console, but we wanted to wait for a while to see how the market developed. And we feel that now the time is now right to take the plunge.”

Despite the long-term relationship with Yamaha, Jon and his team naturally wanted to buy the console that would provide the most benefits to LIPA students, so they looked at a number of alternatives before settling on the PM5D.

“One thing we didn’t want was a console which was effectively just a computer running software with a control surface attached,” says Jon. “And, having tried several, we loved the ergonomics of the PM5D’s user interface. It’s a very logical console to operate.

“We also had to look and see what large format digital consoles are most commonly used out on the road. It’s very important, of course, to teach students on the ‘right’ console for when they leave here and get out into the working environment.”

Also important for LIPA was the reliability and ruggedness of the console which, having long term experience of Yamaha equipment, was something Jon knew is at the very core of the Yamaha product ethic.

“It’s a testing environment for equipment here,” he smiles. “It all gets really pushed to its limits. We had some of the first Yamaha 02Rs when LIPA opened and they’ve been really reliable. And if I have to point to another piece of gear which has never needed any attention, it’s the Yamaha SPX990 multi-effects. We’ve been using those units since the beginning and not one has ever had a problem or needed repair. To me, that says a lot about Yamaha reliability.”

Another advantage of choosing the PM5D was the ‘family resemblance’ to other Yamaha digital consoles already installed at LIPA.

”We have a lot of Yamaha digital consoles and the way of working is very similar from one to another,” says Jon. “The PM5D involves a shallow learning curve anyway, but students can get up to speed on it very quickly because they’re used to the other Yamaha digital desks.”

Once installed, the PM5D was immediately put to use in technical rehearsals for the musical The Boys In The Photograph - a reworking of the Andrew Lloyd Webber / Ben Elton production The Beautiful Game.

“The first public previews of the production were staged here in mid-April, which was also the public debut of our PM5D,” says Jon Thornton. “It has been a great opportunity for the students, straightaway getting hands-on with the new console, on a major production.”

Of course it doesn’t end there. The PM5D offers considerable future potential for the Paul McCartney Auditorium’s cutting-edge audio facilities to be improved and expanded further.

“With Yamaha’s development of the rackmount DSP5D expansion option, the console is even more flexible,” says Jon. “On top of that, the number of interfacing options means that we can look to replace the entire analogue network around the building with digital. It gives us a load of options.”

In fact, a DSP5D has already been at work in the Paul McCartney Auditorium, because The Boys In The Photograph actually saw the PM5D run out of available channels.

“LMC Audio generously loaned us a DSP5D for the show and it worked brilliantly,” says Jon.

But the long-term relationship between LIPA and Yamaha doesn’t only work one way - it has proved an extremely fruitful one for both sides. As well as Yamaha supplying equipment, service and technical support to aid the development of upcoming audio professionals, the loop has been closed by two LIPA graduates now working for Yamaha.

Gianni Abruzzese has recently been promoted to Yamaha Commercial Audio Sales Manager, while Nick Pemberton handles technical sales for the southern England area.

“We have a very strong relationship with Yamaha and it is very much two-way thing,” says Jon Thornton. “The company has been provided invaluable help in our students ability to train on the best possible equipment and we are really pleased that, in turn, some of our graduates are going on to work for Yamaha.”

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