Neither heat nor humidity nor last-minute scheduling 'surprises' could hinder the live performances at KROQ's Coachella House stage during April's 2011 Coachella Music and Arts Festival in the midst of the California desert. For the second consecutive year, Los Angeles, CA's rock radio trailblazer, KROQ, rented a huge house, mere steps from the main stage at Coachella. Over the course of the 3-day fest, the KROQ Coachella House stage played host to live mini-sets and interviews with 4-5 bands daily ranging from Arcade Fire, The Black Keys and Cage The Elephant, to Interpol, Flogging Molly and Mumford & Sons. In the midst of the California desert heat, the Broadcast Support-supplied DiGiCo SD8 handled FOH, Monitor and the station's On-Air Broadcast for approximately several hundred thousand listening fans, as well as distinct mixes for the Webcast and backup recordings with the greatest of ease.
Broadcast Support's founder and President, Scott Ramsay, has worked with KROQ for over three decades, and provided services for the station's inaugural Coachella House at last year's festival. He specified the SD8 for the gig for many reasons, one of which was to have an easy-to-operate system on-hand for touring engineers. "I was familiar with the SD8's reputation, but hadn't actually had a hands-on experience with the console. I knew that DiGiCo made extremely intuitive and simply great-sounding consoles, and with the SD8's massive onboard digital processing and control available in an easy-to-operate package was the deciding factor for me. The onboard package is phenomenal, and I get everything I want and more. I laugh every time I walk by my wall of now-retired outboard processors. I will never lug around tons of that crap again!"
Despite the soaring triple-digit temperatures and high humidity—as well as last-minute scheduling SNAFU's—Ramsay was elated that the console performed flawlessly. "The live broadcast environment is extremely demanding and filled with last-minute changes. Bands show up early, late, and often unannounced and we had to be able to change direction very quickly. Because of the heat, and on a stage with no cover, many of the tour mangers were reluctant to put the bands up for anymore than a line check. Because the SD8 was so easy to program, it was no problem and we were able to deal with these situations and surprises very quickly. No other console adjusts to rapidly changing demands as well as an SD8. And most remarked how much they loved the sound."
One of the console's best-used features was the multiband compressors on the matrix outputs, explained Scott Ramsey, who helped interface with the band's FOH mixers and tour managers, provided quality control over broadcast and web mixes, and helped mix when required. "These are better than any in our current inventory. They kept the codecs from saturating and avoided the station's on-air limiters."
And the sonic quality of the console certainly did not go unnoticed. "Unsolicited, many of the bands raved about the sound," recalled Ramsay,"and more importantly to me, the station programming and music directors were very impressed. Kevin Weatherly, KROQ's Program Director went so far as to call this the 'best sounding remote broadcast ever.'"
"Marcus Mumford, the lead singer/bandleader from Mumford & Sons, went out of his way to thank the sound crew by name after the event," McNeil added. "They loved the way it sounded on stage and in the rebroadcast. In fact, their performance video on YouTube received over 20,000 hits a week after the event!"
"Our participation in this event would not have been possible without the amazing efforts of our staff," Ramsey concluded,"including Steve McNeil, Michael Kahler, who mixed much of the broadcast, Chris Malone, who stage managed the entire broadcast, and all the band's FOH mixers and tour managers, not to mention the KROQ engineering staff, comprised of Scott Mason, Steve Skuller and Ali."
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