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Yamaha Says Hello Dolly At Pitlochry Festival Theatre

August, 2013

One of the most popular theatres in Scotland, Pitlochry Festival Theatre (PFT)’s demanding summer rep season is complemented by an increasingly busy winter programme. More complex productions have meant that an improved audio mixing system was required, so the venue has invested in a Yamaha CL5.

For several years a Yamaha LS9 served the theatre at front of house. But the 2009 decision to stage musicals, with an annual pantomime added from the following year, meant that in due course a higher channel count and greater flexibility was needed. Following the venue’s successful grant application to the Foyle Foundation, Edinburgh-based The Warehouse supplied a Yamaha CL5 and three R-series i/o units in time for the 2013 summer season, along with 24 channels of Shure ULX-D digital wireless microphones.

The Warehouse also supplied three Dante-MY16-AUD interface cards, allowing the theatre’s existing LS9 and 01V96 consoles to be seamlessly integrated into the new Dante network.

“It was a tough selection procedure. We looked at pretty much everyone who does digital desks with a big tick sheet of our requirements,” says Jonathan Towers, PFT’s Deputy Head of Lighting and Sound. “We chose the CL5 for a number of reasons. One of them was that Yamaha is a universally accepted standard. I have been using Yamaha consoles for a long time and we needed a surface that other engineers would immediately know.

“Another big thing was the Dante network. With the ULX-D microphones being Dante-based, we could be digital from the pack through to the console. And, from a venue point of view, it’s amazing that so much audio can go over one Cat5 cable, rather than the analogue infrastructure we used to have all over the place.”

Prior to the final decision, The Warehouse loaned Jonathan a CL5, an experience which clinched the deal. “I tried everything, getting it to do some crazy things which I knew our sound designers would want to do. It did all of them, no problem,” he says.

The centrepiece of the 2013 summer season is Hello Dolly, featuring a sound design by Paul Hoolahan. The latter’s design for PFT’s production of White Christmas helped the theatre win the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) 2012 award for Best Music & Sound.

“There wasn’t much time to get to know and configure the system before prepping Hello Dolly and the five other shows which are running throughout summer season, but getting it up and running was straightforward,” says Jonathan. “The shows are performed in rotation, sometimes two in a day, so the system has to be robust and flexible.

“The CL5 is permanently at front of house - for the bigger productions we also bring in the LS9 and the 01V does sound effects playback for our straight theatre shows. They just slot into the system and it works really well.”

For Hello Dolly, the CL5 handles around 50 stage channels, plus four channels of sound effects from QLab. It also hosts eight channels for effect playback from the season’s other shows. “We’re using about 16 mixes and five matrix outs, using quite a lot of recall for mutes and unmutes, mixing on the DCAs and using custom layers to keep things we most need to access quickly on top,” Jonathan continues.

“Having things like DCAs, more faders and more mixes on the CL5 has brought things on in leaps and bounds, compared to what we were doing. Many people have said there has been a noticeable improvement and we’ve only lost two more seats compared to when we had the LS9 at FOH. The other options we looked at meant taking eight seats out… yet with the CL5 I still have more than enough faders to do what I need.

He concludes, “You look at the number of Yamaha consoles still out there, gigging every day, still being supported and still able to be fixed. Yamaha is a benchmark and, if the CL5 does as well as the company’s other consoles - and I’m very confident that it will - I think we’ve got a solution that we will still be very proud of in 10 years time.”

PFT's Jonathan Towers with the Yamaha CL5

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