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Yamaha LS9 Brings a Pleasance Sound to Edinburgh University

Jun, 2011

Think of the words ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘entertainment’ together and the first idea that tends to pop into one’s head is the annual, month long Festival Fringe. But Scotland’s capital enjoys a year-round variety of stage entertainment, nowhere more so than at the Pleasance Theatre, owned and run by the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA). So it’s just as well that a Yamaha LS9 digital console is there to handle the pace.

The 300-capacity Pleasance Theatre stages drama, live music, dance and comedy throughout the year, as well as hosting lectures, conferences and film screenings. Both professional and amateur companies use it and, with the venue also rented out for performances during the Fringe, it’s rare to step inside and not find something going on.

“The theatre had previously had been an empty space with some tabs, a few hemp bars and a 125a socket,” says Tom Lawes of EUSA. “It was used by a variety of student societies to put on various shows and occasionally some in-house events. We bought the LS9-32 in preparation for redeveloping the theatre, which was mainly the installation of a technical infrastructure which would allow events to occur on a much more regular basis.”

While waiting for the rest of the upgrade to take place, Tom and the student union team used the console on shows in other venues.

“We started off using the desk mainly on rock and folk gigs and found the wealth of outboard within it was a great feature. I come from using the Yamaha Rev500 and SPX990 and found the effects were great and that there were so many options,” he says. “I particularly found the recallable scenes to be a great time saver when dealing with multiple bands. One of the reasons we chose the LS9 was because of its reputation for reliability and it coped extremely well in the beer and sweat-soaked environment of those shows.”

He continues, “Rider considerations were also an issue, as we get touring acts and the ability for them to come in and load a show allows for more time to be dedicated to other aspects of the production. It is, of course, also well-established in the live sound world.”

Since the Pleasance Theatre’s refurbishment was completed the LS9 has taken up virtually permanent residence, being used for everything from a single microphone and some playback for a comedian, right through mixing a full orchestra and choir.

“We have found it to be very flexible when dealing with all the challenges that we have presented to it,” notes Tom. “Everything is very clean sounding and accurate, which is of especial benefit as you don't necessarily get the best representation of what is going on in the auditorium at the mix position. Using the monitoring functions of the desk I can trust what I hear in my headphones. We also do a lot of folk music so detail in sound is important and the desk transmits this well.”

Mention of the mix position highlights the remote control options of the desk - another feature that overcomes one of the venue’s more challenging aspects. Located in the rear corner, the elevated mix position has to be accessed by a lengthy walk out of the back of the venue, up stairs and back in.

“We used to use a ladder, but health and safety put paid to that,” says Tom with a rueful grin. “So the remote control features have been especially useful, as the mix position is not the quickest place to get to.”

A Windows computer is linked to the LS9, running Yamaha Studio Manager and its own dedicated wireless network. This can, in turn, be controlled by any laptop, irrespective of operating system.

“Being able to operate key functions of the LS9 from the stage has been great. It saves a lot of running about,” he adds. “The console basically packs a whole lot of features into a very compact package at a price that's hard to beat. Any problems I have had with the interface have proved to be features on the M7CL, which is probably going to be our next digital desk, which I guess says a lot about our opinion of the console.”


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