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Yamaha consoles echo to the sound of success

Jun,2010

Established in 1992, the German Phonographic Academy’s Echo Awards has become one of Europe’s most prestigious recording industry events. The winners of the pop music categories are announced in March and, this year, four Yamaha digital mixing consoles were on hand to bring the speeches and live performances to an international television audience.

Presented at the Berlin Exhibition Centre on 4th March, the event included live performances by international artists including Rihanna, Robbie Williams, Depeche Mode, Sade, Ke$ha and The Gossip. Broadcast by German TV station ARD, the event attracted a huge audience from across Europe.

To keep the show running smoothly, two audio crews were employed, each comprising a front of house and monitor engineer, stage managers, stage and wireless techs. One team took care of all live music and playback, the other looking after all the presenters, guests and speakers.

Music and speech were mixed at FOH by a pair of PM5Ds, with the monitor position equipped with a PM1D and PM5D-RH.

All inputs were split on stage and sent directly to the monitor consoles, manned by Karim Humbatsch (speech) and Wayne ‘Heights’ Gittens (live music). Here the PM1D served as the master, the 24 mix sends from the PM5D-RH being routed to the PM1D via AES/EBU, therefore allowing the 32 outputs of the PM1D to be accessed from both consoles. Both consoles therefore had access to all wedge and in-ear audio paths.

With the FOH consoles almost 200 metres away, the decision was taken to use a circular, 48kHz Optocore fibre optic link, which carried around 96 inputs and 48 returns. Six Yamaha AD8HR mic preamps were provided on stage for this purpose, the signals fed into the Optocore system via AES/EBU.

Individual direct access to the remote head amps was possible with the aid of the FOH desks, the relevant Yamaha protocol being supported by Optocore. All four desks therefore had their own head amp with a corresponding recallable gain control for every channel.

As with the monitors, the two PM5Ds at the FOH position handled the live music and speech elements separately, the former manned by Bernd Buthe and the latter by Olli Voges, with support from system engineer Thomas Mundorf.

Individual scenes for each artist were programmed into Bernd’s PM5D, however the most important criteria for Olli’s desk was rapid access.

“Anything can happen when people are speaking from the stage,” he says. “During the last 12 years I have been working on this show, we’ve had everything from speeches performed by people with the microphone virtually in their mouths to those speaking three metres away from it. Once a speaker used the microphone as a support and we have had incidents where it has been torn from the stand during a live transmission.

“Because of this, it is impractical to program individual scenes for every speaker, because we never know what’s going to happen. Direct access is always the main priority, because I have to mix the speech part of the show on the fly. In addition, the sequence of events can also change, especially during a live show.”

To achieve this, all the most important presenter and speaker/guest microphones, as well as playback feeds, were located directly accessible on the top PM5D layer. In addition to these inputs, interpreters and commentators also had to be catered for.

“We primarily worked with the aid of sub-groups, each of which was pre-equalised for a different microphone type. In this way it was possible to react quickly to microphone changes: a headset X could thus be transformed into a hand-held Y in a matter of seconds by changing the group routing,” Olli continues.

All groups were consolidated into matrix outputs. The speech and music mixes from both FOH PM5Ds were consolidated via AES/ EBU and transmitted to the PA system controller as eight output paths, comprising a stereo matrix for music; a complete stereo sum with music and voice as an outside broadcast vehicle average; a monomatrix for voice material; a further monomatrix for the speaker microphones and a monomatrix for fills. The sub-bass was controlled via an aux output.

“These different output paths made it possible to transmit voice and music signals to the various PA system in a selective way,” Olli continues. “Musical contributions were processed in stereo via the main arrays as well as the three delay systems and were equipped with directional references with the aid of corresponding time alignment. Voice material was also reproduced on the common system, while a number of additional smaller systems ensured clear directional reference for the speaker positions.”

The 2010 Echo Awards was a major success, with winners including Lady GaGa, Depeche Mode, Robbie Williams, The Baseballs, Xavier Naidoo and Cassandra Steen. As you’d expect, the Yamaha system performed faultlessly, giving the audio team the necessary confidence that everything would go without a hitch.

“Once again the Yamaha consoles were able to confirm their reputation as extremely reliable and which can be used seamlessly with all audio formats for a live transmission of this size,” Olli concludes. “We are already looking forward to next year.”

Data

Products PM1DV2 , PM5D-RH , AD8HR

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