Archbishop Grimshaw builds for the future with Yamaha M7CL
When Nick Gaunt, technical support manager for Archbishop Grimshaw School, a Solihull comprehensive, was presented in late 2006 with the case for needing a new mixing console, local audio specialists SSE Audio Group suggested that a Yamaha M7CL-48 might just fit the bill.
Not only did Nick agree with the suggestion, he went on to design a brand new theatre for the school around the M7CL, which has become a vital part of the technical infrastructure.
“For a long time we had an analogue console on loan, but the day finally came when its owner wanted it back,” says Nick. “So I went to see Spencer Beard, operations director at SSE, and the first thing he brought out was the M7CL. I wanted to bring the school into the digital domain and I liked the console straight away. I thought it looked amazing.”
Nick is also technical co-ordinator for the National Rock and Pop festival - a non profit event run by teachers to provide a top class performance opportunity for pupils of all ages - of which Yamaha is, coincidentally, a sponsor. For the 2007 event SSE provided a pair of M7CLs, which gave Nick chance to get some hands on experience with one at the monitor position.
He needed no further convincing, approached the school’s governors and, after pointing out how much higher the costs would be for a comparable analogue solution with all the outboard equipment required to match the M7CL’s processing power, he was given the go ahead.
“Having used it, I thought the M7CL was stunning,” he says. “Spencer at SSE was spot on with his recommendation and replacing a 24 channel analogue console with the 48 channel M7CL makes life so much easier, especially as many of our productions feature a wide range of different performances.”
But this wasn’t the end of the story, as the national Building Schools for the Future programme enabled Archbishop Grimshaw to effectively build a brand new school next to the old, with Nick Gaunt having the enviable opportunity of working closely with architects Bond Bryan to design a brand new, state of the art school theatre.
SSE were invited to design the audio system and chose Nexo PS15s and LS1200 subs with mixing, of course, on the M7CL.
“When I contacted SSE it was with complete confidence that they would give the school the best solution, and I have not been disappointed,” says Nick. “With the new space and Nexo system, the M7CL has really come into its own. Altogether it’s a great system.”
The new theatre handles everything from awards evenings to school plays, live rock / pop and orchestral performances, so the sheer versatility of the M7CL is very important.
“It’s wonderful having the instant recall facilities as well,” says Nick. “To be able to soundcheck and have everything for instant recall at changeovers is so useful. And with 48 channels we no longer have to re-patch, which was a real chore.”
So far the console hasn’t been used a great deal for teaching, but that is set to change as the school introduces it in Drama practical exams.
“We are starting to bring in sixth formers to look at how we set up the system and they will progress to using the M7CL on shows,” says Nick. “The idea is that it will start a slow cascade learning process, they will pass on how to use it to other pupils.
“We are hoping the facilities will also be used by the local community - from this summer Solihull Music Service will be starting a Saturday Music Centre, based at the school. This will give local youngsters the opportunity to get involved in all aspects making music.
“What is fantastic about the M7CL as a teaching tool is the screen display. Getting over the concept of parametric equalisation is really hard to someone with no knowledge of it, but I can now show them it on the M7CL screen and they grasp it. Teaching the principles of audio makes a lot more sense, because they can literally see what I mean.”
And the M7CL is in good company - a pair of Yamaha NS10 studio monitors has also made the transition to the new set up, as well as a venerable D1500 digital delay, still working absolutely perfectly despite its age.
“As far as I’m concerned, Yamaha can do no wrong,” says Nick. “The reliability of the equipment is amazing. We also have a lot of Yamaha keyboards in the school, they’re extremely reliable and very easy to service.
“As for the M7CL? I love it. It’s absolutely fantastic.”