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Yamaha digital consoles are Fringe favourites once again


2010’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe once again saw thousands of performers and technical crew working phenomenally hard throughout August to support the world famous festival of the performing arts. And, as usual, Yamaha digital mixing consoles were right at the forefront.

The Fringe is a gathering of many esoteric kinds of entertainment, from streets with unicycling fire jugglers and people pretending to be statues, to cabaret, plays, comedy, music, dance and a myriad of other performances in found spaces throughout the city. Bringing the huge variety of indoor entertainment to around two million people is a massive task, one which Yamaha digital consoles play a major role in successfully achieving.

Assembly and C venues are two of the Fringe’s most well-known production houses, between them accounting for around 30% of all tickets sold. Delta Sound and Blitz Communications respectively supply audio equipment and staff to the many performance spaces that come under the Assembly and C venues remit. The combination of small size, ease of use and - critically - reliability, makes Yamaha consoles ideal for the job.

“It’s an extremely tight schedule,” says Peter Russell, Blitz production sound engineer at C venues. “Shows have five minutes to get themselves and their set in and another five to let the audience in. They then have the length of show to the minute and another five minutes to get the audience and themselves out of the venue. So any technical problem has ten minutes to be resolved before the schedule for every other show that day gets knocked out.”

He continues, “I pushed for digital desks at C venues because I didn’t want to spend that ten minutes lining every knob up. We initially had an 02R, then some 01Vs. Now we have LS9-16s in the bigger spaces and everybody loves them.”

One feature of C venues this year is a new space, C plaza at the George Square theatre. At 501 seats it’s a big venue by Fringe standards, with shows covering everything from Dr Bunhead exploding things in the name of science to tap dancing, accapella, marionettes, plays, musicals and flamenco - all of which have their own unique live and/or playback audio requirements. Here an M7CL-48ES and three SB-168ES stage boxes have made life much easier than it might have been.

“Two of the SB168-ES are in the radio mic rack and we’ve remoted another one on the apron where the live musicians go,” says Peter. “We have inputs where we need them and it’s cut all the analogue infrastructure I’d otherwise have had to put in, so it’s been a big budget-saver. With the Cat5 cable everything’s also neat and tidy, which is a bonus.

“One of the shows has had an American crew, who weren’t aware of the ES version of the M7CL. They loved it, I believe they’re going to order one as soon as they get back!”

Another new, large format venue was a major addition for Assembly this year. In this case it was Assembly@Princes Street Gardens, a Spiegel tent erected in the famous city centre gardens. Here an M7CL-48 was in use, with an LS9-32 used to cover the adjacent Ross Bandstand, where mornings saw Scotland Has Talent parade an array of traditional and not-so-traditional musical acts. The latter was also used, together with SB168-ES stage boxes, by Biffy Clyro, who played an acoustic show at the nearby Bulmers Bar for 200 competition winners.

“I haven’t had chance to use the M7CL-48ES yet,” says Assembly head of sound Chris Ekers. “But I really like the Ethersound multicore and stage boxes. It’s a nice package, as is being able to rackmount the LS9-16. Space is always limited at the mix position and this year we’ve got a rackmount LS9 in the Drawing Room. It’s basically a gig in a box and works really well in spaces where literally every millimetre counts.”

Other Yamaha consoles supplied by Delta for Assembly venues include four further M7CL-48s, a PM5D in the Assembly Hall and four more LS9-16s.

“I set things up to try and be as consistent across the venues as possible,” Chris continues. “I pre-program the outputs, but it’s been noticeable this year that people are increasingly bringing in their own drives and wanting to load up their own show files. It demonstrates the ubiquity of Yamaha consoles, which is a real help to us, because people are familiar with them and don’t need so much training.”

Peter Russell agrees, adding, “Anyone can walk up to the LS9 and use it. It has exactly what you need and you can grab it quickly. Even with the less experienced guys - and there are quite a lot of young techs cutting their teeth here - I’ve got a default show for each venue, which they can use easily. I lock off all the bits they don’t need and they can mix a show perfectly well.

“We also use the playback on the LS9, as well as the record function,” he adds. “People like to go away with an archive recording of their shows. Most are on a tight budget, so it means they don’t have to pay someone to come in to record it for them.”

Small size, ease of use, extreme versatility and high quality sound are all virtues which make Yamaha consoles ideal for Fringe venues. But the uncompromising nature of it also means that reliability is critical.

“It’s a relentless schedule. We have a policy of leaving everything on all the time, because they get used for so many hours every day,” says Chris Ekers. “The reliability of the Yamaha desks is remarkably good, they perform their tasks impeccably every day. More than ever now we know if we recall the show it will come back exactly as it was.”

“We don’t have the time for anything to critically fail,” adds Peter Russell. “One of the main reasons that we’re using the Yamaha gear is because you have that complete confidence that you can walk up to it at any time and it’ll be working exactly as you need it to.”


Products LS9-16 , M7CL-48ES , SB168-ES

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