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Yamaha LS9 takes Wexford Arts Centre into the big league

Apr, 2010

Located in the 18th century Cornmarket House in central Wexford, in the south-east corner of the Republic of Ireland, Wexford Arts Centre has been providing a wide range of contemporary art and entertainment for locals and visitors since 1974. Recently, the 120-seat main auditorium had a major technical refit, at the heart of which is a Yamaha LS9-32 mixing console.

The new system was designed by Mick O’Gorman of Dublin-based Mosco Sound Design and Recording, working closely with the venue’s technical and facilities manager Ollie Dempsey.

“The existing system we had was becoming unreliable, and I spent half my life patching up and adding on to meet the increasing demands of artists,” says Ollie. “It was also a bit of a nightmare for anyone who was not 100% familiar with sound. They could operate the old mixing console, but the slightest problem would quickly become a massive one!”

He continues, “It was also clear that there was a sea change in the industry from analogue to digital and we felt it was time to make a decision - whether to move with the times or cling on to the old ways. We felt the latter was impossible, as the standard is raised around the country, acts get used to a higher standard and also a speedy set up and sound check.”

The new console had a tough brief to fulfil. It had to be extremely reliable and flexible, easy for non-technical users to quickly learn and get good results from and, as with the case of all publicly-funded arts facilities, provide all this on a budget which didn’t break the bank.

Impressed with the Yamaha consoles that touring acts have brought to the Centre, Ollie and Mick found the ideal solution in the form of the LS9-32.

“Yamaha has always been simply good quality gear, the LS9 is really powerful for its size and it’s really simple to use. The 32 channel version is perfect for us,” says Ollie.

“Everything being in one unit saved me needing to buy stacks of compressors, gates and EQs, while the fact you can record on it and save different mixes for support acts is a massive bonus. The recall functions save so much time and hardship for touring productions.”

With the Arts Centre hosting such a wide variety of productions, the recall functions are also continually in use to save vast amounts of time for the different kinds of show. Once a new kind of show or action is set up, Ollie hits ‘save’ and that setup is available instantly forever more.

“We have a lot of setups programmed - we have a film club, the guys select the scene, and everything is exactly how they left it. We have a patch for our regular cabaret night and a range of our other production types,” Ollie notes.

The LS9 has now been in use at Wexford Arts Centre for a few months but, even now, Ollie still has vivid memories of the venue’s pre-LS9 days.

“We’re delighted with the LS9. I'm still amazed by it, to be honest,” he says. “Installing the LS9 has been like someone handing you full control over your work - you gain control over every aspect of the mix and detail you didn't know existed is there for you.

“The feeling of dread I used to get when I received the spec from a band looking for x, y and z, is gone forever. It’s like stepping up to the big league!”

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