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Universal university approval for new Yamaha / NEXO system

Oct, 2010

Yamaha’s M7CL and LS9 digital mixing consoles continue to make great inroads in the education market - their user-friendliness, high end facilities in a compact footprint and cost-effectiveness all making them very attractive to schools, colleges and universities. The latest establishment to invest in Yamaha is Aberystwyth University, which recently took delivery of two new systems.

Supplied by SSE Audio Group, the new equipment comprises an M7CL-48ES and LS9-32 digital mixing consoles, MY16-ES64 Ethersound interface cards for the latter, three SB168-ES stage boxes and two Nexo PA systems.

“When I moved here just over a year ago, it was obvious that the equipment needed updating,” says the university’s technical manager David Mitchell. “Having never worked in education before, it surprised me that the technical theatre students were still using rather dated methods to run live shows.”

He continues, “I knew that this was going to be a one-off opportunity to get the university to buy a system that would bring the learning experience of the students up to date. It was very important that we had something that will still be commonplace in the industry five years from now. I visited SSE earlier in the year and was blown away by just how versatile the LS9 and M7CL are.”

University students stage productions in a variety of spaces, from the university’s Studio 1 - an ‘in the round’ studio theatre - to a range of venues throughout the town, some of which are geared up for regular live performance and some which are not.

SSE Sales Manager Alex Penn (coincidentally an Aberystwyth University alumnus) made a site visit and suggested a permanent installation of eight Nexo PS10R2 with flexible sub locations (for either two RS15 or two RS18 speakers) for Studio 1. The M7CL48-ES and LS9-32 consoles were supplied with flightcases, so they can be used with either the permanent system or a mobile one comprising Nexo PS15R2s with RS15/8s. The latter can be used anywhere on campus or in external venues.

“I had constantly found myself setting up small PA systems in odd little venues around the town, using 8 -16 channel analogue mixers. After miking up and running playback from QLab and an eight way sound card, there were few (if any) channels / inputs available for anything else,” says David. “The new mobile system is ideal for running shows in venues that are not necessarily designed to handle the demands of a live show.

“It was also important to have a system which we can hire out,” he continues. “Hotels, conferencing and open mic nights are avenues we are looking at to generate more income for the university’s Theatre, Film and Television department. As part of that, being able to act professionally, to walk into a venue and be up and running quickly, with low impact on the client, is all a part of my developing the department’s technical standards.”

The inclusion of the MY16-ES64 interface cards for the LS9 console means that the SB-168ES stage boxes can add their audio quality and flexibility to both systems. The Nexo NXAMPs used to power the speaker systems are also Ethersound compatible, meaning both systems are fully digital.

SSE’s innovative packaging also helped with making use of the systems straightforward, the mobile amp rack including signal/power distribution panels, custom engraved with the University’s logo, as well as an integrated cable trunk.

Regarding the system in Studio 1, David says, “It was important to me that the students could get to grips with the console in a ‘safe’ environment. Aberystwyth Arts Centre is next door, where they already have an M7CL console. I wanted students to have the opportunity of transferring the knowledge learned in Studio 1 directly to the more demanding venue next door, working closely with touring shows and feeling confident in their abilities. Having the same console definitely helps with that.”

In addition, the ubiquity of Yamaha digital mixers in the pro audio market means that student sound engineers trained on the M7CL and LS9 have a definite head start when they graduate.

David continues, “Another advantage of the installation in Studio 1 was that the previous PA system was bigger and also ground-stacked on large square blocks. SSE flew the new system, which has given us a lot more floor space to work with.”

Both systems have already seen considerable use, the mobile system being an integral part of this year’s Fresher’s party, while the Studio 1 system has featured on an MA student’s sound installation, which was inspired by Chris Watson (Foley artist for BBC series Planet Earth).

“It worked brilliantly, giving us almost instant responses to the artists’ needs. Being able to play with frequencies covering the channel which had an underwater mic was vital,” says David.

Of course, both Yamaha and SSE’s service doesn’t simply end with delivery of the products. Alex Penn and Karl Christmas, Deputy General Manager Yamaha Commercial Audio (UK), paid the university a recent visit to ensure that everything was up and running smoothly. Karl also took the opportunity to provide training on the consoles.

“Karl was super cool. He explained the desks and Studio Manager software brilliantly, dealing superbly with technicians who are largely from a lighting or television background, but who also need to know how to use the desks, with the patience of a saint.” smiles David.

“And it wasn’t just us. Thanks to the training, Technical Manager Nick Bache and Technician Dyfan Rhys from Aberystwyth Arts Centre have already reconfigured their desk, by copying up the channels to control varying levels and requirements between FOH and monitor mixes.”

All-in-all, the new systems have received the university’s universal thumbs up, from the students and staff through to that most critical of faculties - the finance department.

“In terms of quality sound and precise delivery, the Yamaha / Nexo combination at the price we paid is incredible. We have a high quality mobile system that we will be able to hire out and there is also the fact that they hold their value, all of which was a great help in persuading the finance department to make the investment,” says David.

“The LS9 is a great console with a huge amount of inputs, while the M7CL’s touch screen makes it very easy for new users, the EQ sections giving them a visual aid and explanation of what is happening to the sound. They can see and hear the effect in real time as they pull out certain frequencies. They are both perfect as teaching and technical demonstration aids.”

Data

Products M7CL-48 , LS9-32 , SB168-ES

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